18-wheeler loaded with illegal immigrants, marijuana stopped in Far East El Paso

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Twenty-three illegal immigrants along with 250 pounds of marijuana were found hidden inside an 18-weeler that was stopped on I-10 near Eastlake early Wednesday morning.

The traffic stop happened around 4 a.m. Wednesday along I-10 where special agents with U.S. Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations agents found 18 men and two unaccompanied underage boys in the trailer along with two women and a man in the sleeper cabin.

Three of the immigrants were from Guatemala and 20 were from Mexico, according to ICE.

Along with the large number of immigrants, agents also discovered 256 pounds (116 kilograms) of marijuana hidden in the sleeper cabin of the 18-wheeler.

The driver of the truck was identified as Comothial Harper, 44, from Bainbridge, Georgia. Authorities say he was arrested and charged with transporting illegal aliens for financial gain. A passenger in the truck identified as Gerardo Aguilar-Roque, 35, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Court documents show that the men and underage boys were hiding behind boxes in the back of the trailer. They all appeared to be in good health, despite there being no ventilation in the trailer.

Last month, ten immigrants died in San Antonio after being transported in the back of a sweltering semi-truck from the Laredo area.

“The people inside the trailer had a long trip ahead of them, and nothing assures us they would have arrived at their destination alive,” said Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso. “HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to dismantle human smuggling networks operating on the border.”

The investigation is being led by federal HSI agents with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol and the El Paso County Shierff’s Office.

All of the illegal immigrants are being held in federal custody pending immigration hearings.

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