FALFURRIAS, Texas — This past Sunday morning, the Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol discovered nine undocumented immigrants in a tractor trailer, at the Falfurrias checkpoint.
This is the second time this year that a tractor-trailer has been used for smuggling undocumented immigrants into the country.
Although, this is not anything new to Border Patrol, agents take extra precautions when looking for undocumented immigrants in the Falfurrias area.
Supervisor Border Patrol Agent Pedro Cantu says agents not only focus on regular checkpoint and processing duties but also cover an area of 1,100 square miles.
The Falfurrias checkpoint, is the largest and newest in the United States.
"We've never had this before, no other checkpoint has this magnitude of inspections, at any other United States Border Patrol checkpoint," he said.
Equipped with eight lanes, four for commercial vehicles and four for non-commercial vehicles, personnel at the facility will inspect all of the traffic heading northbound on U.S. Highway 281.
The facility will provide a primary inspection. And if a vehicle triggers an alert, it will then go to secondary inspection for further investigation.
"Iit's all going to be officer experience, intelligence gathering, or a K9 alert on that vehicle," Cantu said.
The recent tractor-trailer smuggling attempts were alerted from K9's. However, Cantu says many times when smugglers or undocumented immigrants travel to the U.S. they try to avoid the checkpoints by often traveling over rough terrain.
"We know they're coming here and traversing through this difficult land, and we want to make sure that lives are saved," Cantu said. "We have a lot deaths in this area of responsibility, due to terrain and the amount of distance that they have to travel."
Since the terrain is so difficult to traverse, Border Patrol have strategically placed seven safety checkpoints that have giant water jugs attached with a sign that says, "If you need help. Push the red button. Help will arrive. Do not leave the area."
"We provide water for them," Cantu said. "We put these out here to better assist them in anyway we can."
Cantu says although their job is the capture of smugglers and undocumented immigrants, the Border Patrol maintains a human-first philosophy. Safety is first priority. Cantu will be first to tell you that many of the agents in this area are EMT certified. And often, his personnel is the first to accidents on the highways.
"We're here to assist the illegal immigrants, the local population, and everybody that we can assist," Cantu said.
Both tractor-trailer incidents involving undocumented-migrant smuggling are under investigation.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector currently has multiple campaigns focusing on rescues and danger awareness, such as “Operation Big Rig” and “No Se Arriesgue” to combat smuggling and ultimately save lives.