26 migrants are rescued after smuggled and held in a shack with buckets for toilet and no running water

Operation recalls 2022 smuggling tragedy in similar area outside San Antonio

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 07 June 2024 18:26
Biden signs executive order on border

Twenty-six migrants were rescued from a rural residence outside of San Antonio, where they were being held in a shack in blistering heat with no water or toilets, according to Texas officials.

"It’s miserable conditions in there and it’s just blazing hot," Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar told reporters on Thursday. "Fortunately, we were able to get these people before any of them passed as a result."

Eleven of the migrants were taken to hospitals for heat-related injuries and are expected to recover.

Seven smuggling suspects were arrested as part of the operation.

Sheriff Salazar said officials found the residence after they were tipped off about a trailer potentially being used in a smuggling operation, and later observed migrants stowed in a false compartment beneath the truck for hours before being unloaded into the house.

Once inside, the police said the smuggling appeared to be “clearly cartel-related,” and that rifles and bulletproof vests were discovered.

Only one of the 26 migrants’ identities has been confirmed, and she is Guatemalan.

"It’s possible that we have others from other countries, but just her, we know for a fact she paid $16,000 to be smuggled to this point," Sheriff Salazar said. "So, I mean, if you just got one of these people paying 16 grand and there’s 26 smuggling victims, this is a big money operation."

The sting is reminiscent of a tragedy from two years prior, when 53 migrants, including eight children, died nearby as a result of being smuggled in a trailer with a malfunctioning air-conditioning unit. It’s believed to be the deadliest smuggling incident in US history.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden issued an executive order giving himself power to shut down the US-Mexico border to asylum-seekers after separate, illegal crossings, reached an average daily threshold of 2,500 people.

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