Border Patrol agents discovered 55 people, including three minors, hidden inside a tractor-trailer hauling pallets of peppers on Thursday.
The smuggling attempt resulted in the arrest of truck driver Oscar Richmond Jr., who was charged with smuggling people in the country illegally.
A criminal complaint said Richmond arrived at the Falfurrias checkpoint in a Great Dane reefer trailer at approximately 2:25 a.m. that day.
When Border Patrol asked him what he was hauling, Richmond told agents he had cabinets in the trailer, according to the complaint.
After a service K-9 alerted to the trailer, agents referred Richmond to a secondary inspection where they removed the seal of the trailer and opened its doors.
“After opening the doors, (Border Patrol) Agents observed several pallets of peppers were knocked over and not in place,” the complaint stated.
When an agent climbed into the trailer, 55 people were found trying to hide behind the pallets of peppers.
“Among the fifty-five individuals were three minors, one who was traveling with his mother, the second was traveling with his two adult sisters, and a third was a seventeen-year-old female traveling by herself,” the complaint said.
During an interview with Richmond after his arrest, the man said he received a contract job to bring empty pallets to an Edinburg H-E-B, according to Border Patrol.
The complaint said Richmond needed a trailer to rent and someone named Andre offered him a job and a trailer.
“Richmond stated Andre called him and knew he was going to be going to Edinburg, TX and asked if he wanted to make someone extra money,” the complaint said. “Richmond stated Andre offered him $3,000 USD to transport four people and some hardware from Edinburg, TX to Houston, TX to which Richmond agreed.”
After Richmond dropped off the pallets at the Edinburg H-E-B, he went to an address in Pharr that Andre had given him, where he was supposed to pick up the hardware and people.
When he arrived, the complaint said he dropped off the trailer and went to eat at a Taco Bell while other people loaded the trailer.
“Richmond stated once the trailer was loaded, he departed the location and did not make any stops until arriving at the (Border Patrol) Checkpoint,” the complaint said.
Richmond was scheduled to make a first appearance in Corpus Christi federal court Monday morning in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason B. Libby, court records indicate.
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