Operation Big Rig is putting a watchful eye on tractor trailers in an attempt to combat human smuggling in Laredo, Texas. The movement was launched in November 2017 in an attempt to prevent tragedies like the 2003 Victoria, Texas incident, when nineteen people d*ed inside of a tractor trailer. Operation Big Rig is getting more trained eyes on the look out, with law enforcement agencies, the community, and truck drivers on watch. Drivers in trucking schools are discouraged from taking the route of James Bradley, who was sentenced to life in prison for the d*ath of 10 people.
According to U.S. Homeland Security special agent in charge Shane Folden, Bradley was being paid $1,000 per person. “It’s simply just not worth it,” Folden said. He also stressed that the investigation is not over in the Bradley case, saying that they have numerous leads. Folden says that HSI has a “tremendous relationship” with the Mexican government in taking down vast human smuggling operations, mentioning “numerous successful cases.” According to KSAT, thousands of people take this life-threatening risk every year. Last July, Catholic Charities was asked to help the families of those who perished, as well as the survivors. Fernandez recalls that one individual was in a hospital for weeks, unable to speak.
U.S. Attorney James Bash, said that employers who hire undocumented workers are putting the employees’ lives at risk. According to Folden, HSI goes to great lengths to verify the legal status of their employees. He also believes that hiring undocumented immigrants for less money and fewer benefits is unfair to other employers. “It’s really a matter of exploiting people,” he said. As reported by KRGV, in the second month of the 2018 fiscal year, there were over 100 apprehensions and up to nine semi-truck human smuggling cases. If you see suspicious activity, call 911.