Agents Find Illegal Immigrants Hiding On Big Rigs
Jan 24, 2006, 09:08 AM EST

Reported by Romeo Cantu

U.S. Border Patrol agents announced Monday that they are seeing a dangerous trend smugglers are using to bring illegal immigrants into the country.

Agents said that they are now finding illegal immigrants hiding on top of the cabs of big rigs without truck drivers even knowing it.

Anytime you drive on the highways in the Rio Grande Valley -- day or night -- you'll probably see some 18-wheelers hauling their huge cargos.

But what you may not see is what's hiding on top of the cabs on some of these big rigs. Believe it or not -- there are people hiding up in there.

Last week, agents discovered three illegal immigrants hiding behind the air dam of red big rig.

“They're crazy man,� said Robert Melgoza, a truck driver from Pharr. “People doing this are not all there. They're just trying to get to where they want to but they're doing it a hard way.�

Melgoza said that he was getting ready to drive to Florida and is now double-checking to make sure no one is hiding in his big rig.

He said that he's heard of people riding up there, but there had never actually seen it.

“It's dangerous,� he said. “He could fall and I could run over him. He could fall on the catwalk or he could drop somebody else. If anything happens on those air lines right there and if they unhook, there's going to be a mess out there because the trailer is going to break.�

Melgoza said that unless truckers get up on top, there's no real way to make sure no one is hiding behind the air dam.

In fact, Border Patrol agents at the Sarita Checkpoint only made the discovery after using sniffer dogs.

“At the Border Patrol Checkpoint, while Border Patrol agents were conducting an immigration inspection on the driver, a Border Patrol canine unit alerted on the passenger side of the 18-wheeler,� said Roy Cervantes, a Border Patrol spokesman.

Agents said that in most cases the truck drivers are unaware they have an unwanted passenger.

“In this case, the smuggler loaded up the aliens at a truck stop south of Edinburg without the driver's knowledge,� Cervantes said.

The truck driver was released -- because he didn't know the men were up there.

The three men are said to be okay and will be deported back to Mexico, Cervantes said. ... 0&nav=0w0v