Charges filed in big rig human smuggling

BROWNSVILLE — Two Cuban nationals have been charged with smuggling 86 undocumented immigrants found in a tractor-trailer Tuesday night.

A state trooper pulled the semi truck over on I-69E near Raymondville for “failure to maintain a single lane,” officials said.

Officials have said a concerned citizen called in a tip that night about a tractor-trailer carrying undocumented immigrants. A state trooper later identified the truck.

Jorge Alfredo Rodriguez, of Miami, and Danay Rego-Plasencia, of Houston, have been charged with harboring and concealing undocumented immigrants. Officials said they are both Cuban nationals.

Court records show the trooper pulled the rig over some time after 10 p.m. and issued a citation to the driver for failing to maintain a lane. Officials said Rodriguez gave verbal and written consent for a search of the trailer.

Both suspects are being held without bond pending a hearing Tuesday before a federal judge in Brownsville.

Court records show officials have four witnesses who identified the two suspects.

Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence has called this one of the biggest human trafficking cases he has seen since he became sheriff in 1985.

The truck was pulled over near the State Highway 186 exit.

Some of the people in the trailer broke through the roof so they were able to climb out onto the top. Spence said he believes they may have been panicking.

The truck was surrounded by DPS troopers, Border Patrol agents, Willacy County sheriff’s deputies and Raymondville police. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter was also called in, as well as BORSTAR agents and EMS crews.