The Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department took 30 illegal immigrants into custody on Tuesday after finding them being transported in a U-Haul truck.
One of those immigrants is a member of the violent Salvadorian gang known as MS-13.
The Sheriff's Department said they do not know what that member of MS-13 was doing in the U-Haul. They suspect he was part of the human smuggling operation and was there to keep order in the back of the U-Haul.
A deputy got behind the U-Haul sometime after 9 p.m. Tuesday night and noticed that the gate was not closed and secure, and the vehicle was riding low. The gates are sometimes left open so that the immigrants being transported inside can breath.
The driver of the U-Haul noticed another deputy vehicle up ahead on the road who was assisting a stranded motorist, and so he decided to pull over just north of FM 735, which is the Palito Blanco exit. The driver and two passengers got out of the cab and ran on foot.
After more officers showed up, the deputies opened the hatch and found 30 people inside.
"As soon as we opened the hatch, you could feel the heat coming from inside there," said Captain Brandon Torres of the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department. "Just all those bodies in that confined area, and just two inches of breathing. They're all hungry and thirsty."
The Sheriff's Department deputies do carry water and provided it for the immigrants. The U.S. Border Patrol then went out and took the individuals into custody, and began their investigation with ICE.
The Sheriff's Department has identified one of the occupants in the U-Haul as a member of MS-13, a transnational gang that started in El Salvador. Captain Torres said MS-13 is involved in human smuggling, drug smuggling, murders, robbery and more.
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