Texas police officers that stopped a tractor trailer found 39 undocumented immigrants crammed inside – all of them sweaty and desperate, many of them gasping for air and climbing atop of one another to get out.
The dramatic rescue was captured by a Texas police officer who told Fox News Latino he was shocked when he opened the door of the truck.
“To that degree, we haven’t seen that before,” he told Fox News Latino. “We’ve seen smaller vehicles but nothing like this.”
The officers told ABC affiliate KSAT 12 that the group had been trapped four to five hours inside the trailer.
“They were sweating, dehydrated, it was horrible,” Deputy Sheriff Aaron Ramirez, who opened the door of the truck, said. “They were scared. They thought they were going to die.”
As they hastily come out of the trailer, weak voices from inside the trailer are heard wailing: “Please, help me!” in Spanish. At one point one of the minors politely thanks the officers for the rescue: “Le agradezco mucho.”
Ramirez and Reyna were the first to arrive at the scene, at a truck stop north of Pearsall, Texas, responding to a 911 call Sept. 18. According to KSAT 12, the caller reported seeing a truck driver telling the semi-naked passengers to get out of the trailer and then ordering them to go back in.
When officers got there, the 33-year-old driver, Drew Christopher Potter, was “just standing there, not a care in the world,” Reyna said.
Potter, a Texas resident, has been indicted on four counts of conspiracy to smuggle and transport undocumented people into the U.S. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
The 28 women, seven women and four minors rescued are natives to Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico, officials said. They were treated at nearby hospitals and then transferred by U.S. Border Patrol agents to Laredo, where they will be held as witnesses in Potter’s trial.
While the investigation is ongoing, Reyna said they believe the group was brought up from Laredo, one of six binational cities along the United States-Mexican border.