Border Patrol finds 29 people locked inside horse trailer at Falfurrias checkpoint

Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
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)

A man was arrested at the Falfurrias checkpoint early Monday morning after Border Patrol agents found 29 people locked inside a horse trailer, according to a criminal complaint.

Efrain Hernandez was charged with knowingly and with reckless disregard attempting to transport people illegally present in the U.S.

At 4:50 a.m. on Monday, a silver Ford F-250 pickup truck pulling a horse trailer driven by Hernandez entered one of the primary inspection lanes at the Falfurrias checkpoint, the complaint said.

Hernandez told Border Patrol agents that he was a U.S. citizen heading to Corpus Christi to visit a veterinarian who was to check up on the two horses he was transporting.

The agents noticed Hernandez appeared nervous and saw that his mouth was shaking when he was answering questions.

They then asked why he couldn’t simply visit a veterinarian in the Rio Grande Valley, to which Hernandez responded by staring at the agents blankly, according to the complaint.

Hernandez was then asked if he would consent to a search of his truck and trailer.

He consented and was directed to the secondary area of the checkpoint, according to the complaint.

It was then that an X-ray of the truck and trailer revealed anomalies inside the horse trailer.

“Agents then realized there were individuals secreted inside the trailer and attempted to open the locked portion of the trailer where the individuals were located,” the complaint said.

When asked if he had the key to the lock, Hernandez responded with a no, so the agents used a pry bar to open the lock.

Upon opening the trailer doors, agents found a total of 29 people hidden inside.

According to the complaint, the people removed from the trailer were sweating and appeared distressed.

Hernandez is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchel Neurock in Corpus Christi federal court for a detention hearing Thursday morning.