Matamoros man charged in mass smuggling attempt at Falfurrias checkpoint

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent and K-9 security dog keep watch at a checkpoint station, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, in Falfurrias, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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A Matamoros man was arrested at the Falfurrias checkpoint on Monday after Border Patrol agents discovered 45 people inside a refrigerated trailer that was 35 degrees, according to a criminal complaint.

Adrian Gonzalez-Estrada is charged with knowingly and with reckless disregard attempting to transport people illegally present in the United States by means of transportation.

At around 1:20 a.m., a blue 2012 Kenworth tractor-trailer pulling a white Great Dane reefer trailer approached the Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias driven by Gonzalez.

He stated that he was traveling to Houston and was hauling a load of mixed produce.

Gonzalez provided a Colorado identification card and disclosed that he didn’t have a driver’s license when the agent conducting the inspection noticed Gonzalez’s hands visibly shaking after handing the identification card.

A K-9 alert led Gonzalez to be referred to a secondary inspection.

A systematic search of the vehicle was conducted at the secondary inspection area that revealed people inside the trailer.

“A seal was removed from the cargo doors and 45 subjects were discovered sitting on the floor of the trailer,” the affidavit said.

The document also stated that the temperature recorded inside the trailer was 35 degrees.

Agents also noticed that the boxes of produce weren’t loaded in an orderly manner and the produce was rotting.

During an interview with authorities, Gonzalez stated that he crosses the port of entry daily to work as a roofer and that he doesn’t work for a particular company.

“Gonzalez stated a friend he knows in Mexico offered him a job driving a load of tomatoes to Houston, Texas,” the complaint said.

He denied knowing that people were inside the trailer and that their belongings were inside the cab of the tractor.

Gonzalez is set to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchel Neurock Friday morning for a preliminary examination and detention hearing in Corpus Christi federal court.