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Inspectors See Liquid Dripping From Truck, Find 88 Aliens Locked Inside

July 09, 1987|From Associated Press

Weigh-station inspectors near San Clemente found 88 illegal aliens locked inside a tractor-trailer rig Wednesday, becoming suspicious after noticing liquid dripping from the underside of the truck.

"The inspectors felt the sides of the truck and it felt unusually warm. They called our agents over and they pounded on the sides. People inside began hollering and screaming," said Gene Smithburg, assistant chief patrol officer for the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego.

The discovery of the aliens was the second in two days. Fifty-three aliens were found hiding in a tractor-trailer rig Tuesday in an industrial area of San Diego.

Smithburg said Border Patrol agents from the nearby San Clemente checkpoint on Interstate 5 had to use bolt-cutters to enter the rear of the tractor-trailer, which was stopped at the state truck inspection scales about 12:45 p.m.

The aliens had been locked in the trailer for about four hours, Smithburg said. They apparently were bound for Los Angeles.

"The people inside were in pretty bad shape," he said. "Several of them had to be treated on the spot for heat exhaustion, but nobody required hospitalization."

All were Mexicans, with most between the ages of 19 and 35. Four were women and one was a child.

Smithburg said the driver of the truck also was an illegal alien.

"He told us he was getting free passage for driving. He wasn't being charged the $350 (fee that others were paying)," he said.

Scale workers who noticed the liquid dripping thought it was strange because the trailer was sitting in a covered area and was not equipped for refrigeration.

"We believe it was sweat and urine," Smithburg said.

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