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Frantic 911 calls spark local search for tanker carrying undocumented, potentially endangered immigrants

The calls were made Monday, and Sheriff Javier Salazar said the tanker could be anywhere by now.

SAN ANTONIO — Local investigators are searching for a white tanker apparently full of dozens of potentially endangered immigrants after a man called Bexar County emergency dispatchers on Monday, claiming they were trapped and endangered. The immigrants are believed to be undocumented.

On the emergency 911 call, the man speaks in Spanish and claims their oxygen is running out, adding that they’re in a tanker made to carry water. In the background, audible distress from others can also be heard.

The unidentified man later tells dispatchers that he isn’t sure where they are in San Antonio, but then the call drops.

According to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, BCSO used cell phone tower triangulation to determine the truck may have been on I-35 near Fisher Road. In audio records, dispatchers can be heard saying: “Be on the lookout for a white-colored 18-wheeler/tanker, followed by a black Chevy truck.”

KENS 5 obtained surveillance video from a business near Von Ormy in which a white tanker can be seen following a black pickup truck before pulling over to the shoulder. Salazar believes it might be the tanker authorities are looking for.

"This truck could be here locally, or it could be in another part of the country by now," he said. "We just don't know."

The sheriff called the 911 calls disturbing.  

"These smugglers don't care," he said. "They cram these people in, because the more people they get in, the more it increases their bottom line. But (as far as) the victims themselves, I just want to know if they are alive and accounted for."

Investigators with the Department of Homeland Security provided KENS 5 with the following statement: 

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is looking into an incident along with local law enforcement partners regarding a possible human smuggling event. No further details can be released at this time since the matter remains ongoing.”


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