Document: Driver in Sierra Blanca human smuggling bust hired in Juarez

Dangers of crossing border illegally

SIERRA BLANCA, Texas - A complaint affidavit obtained by the ABC-7 I-Team states Border Patrol agents in Sierra Blanca suspected a truck driver was trafficking humans when they noticed the tractor trailer did not have a seal or lock.

On August 14, 2017, 20 undocumented immigrants were found inside a tractor trailer at the Sierra Blanca I-10 Checkpoint Monday morning.

According to the complaint affidavit, Border Patrol agents were suspicious of the freight liner truck, driven by Irving Hernandez-Rueda, because he did not have the bill of laden, or the detailed list of the goods, he was shipping.

Agents said they also discovered Hernandez did not have a seal or a lock for the cargo door. The affidavit states that because Hernandez did not have the proper paperwork or a seal or lock for the door; agents requested consent from Hernandez to X-ray the tractor-trailer. Hernandez agreed and the X-ray scan was conducted in the secondary inspection area.

Hernandez was questioned as to if he had additional people in the truck, however he told agents he was alone.

The X-ray revealed several silhouettes consistent with human bodies in the rear cargo area. Immediately, Hernandez was placed under arrest and escorted to the checkpoint officer for further processing. 

Hernandez told investigators, that a month ago, he met someone in Ciudad Juarez and was offered a job of transporting people illegally from El Paso, according to the affidavit. Hernandez said he agreed to do the job.

According the the complaint, Hernandez crossed into the United States at 4:17 a.m. through the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry. The statement says Hernandez was picked up by a friend and taken to the truck that was outside of a stash house in Northeast El Paso.

Hernandez told investigators, that before he arrived to the Border Patrol checkpoint, he was instructed to turn on the light in the cargo area of the truck in order to signal to the occupants to be quiet and to not move around as to not draw attention from agents. 

Hernandez told investigators that he knew the people in the truck did not have legal permission to enter the U.S. but he only thought he was transporting three. Border Patrol found a total of 20 undocumented immigrants in the cargo area. 

The affidavit states Hernandez was heading to Pecos, Texas, to drop off the immigrants. He stated that someone else was expected to pick up the truck and to continue transporting them. Hernandez says he was to be paid $1,000 for transporting them.

According to the federal document, Hernandez was given a gray shirt to wear that said AIM Nationwide, which coincided with the name on the driver's side door of the truck.  He stated that the work shirt was suppose to give the appearance that he was official. 

The affidavits also lists some of the interviews that agents had with the people in the back of the truck.

According to the complaint, one of the them said he entered the U.S. by crossing through the river in downtown, El Paso illegally. The witness claims that after crossing he was picked up by a vehicle and transported to the stash house. According to the document the man was then taken to another stash house a couple of days later.

The witness told agents that he was instructed to get in the back of the cargo truck, in front of the cargo area, next to the plastic containers and to keep quiet.

A second witness told agents that he entered the U.S. on Aug. 14, just days before the bust, by crossing the river west of downtown. According to officials the witness was picked up by a truck and taken to a house shortly after before being moved to another house.

The second witness said that on Aug. 14, he was told he needed to be ready because he was going to be transported out of El Paso. The witness told investigators that he was to pay $1,200 to be smuggled into the United States.

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