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Migrants found in 18-wheeler will likely be transported home. Law enforcement says they were lucky.

Von Ormy Police found 12 migrants in a stolen 18-wheeler last night. A former Homeland Security Investigations agent the area is commonly used by traffickers.

SAN ANTONIO — Twelve migrants are likely on their way home and one man is now arrested after a Von Ormy police officer stopped a stolen 18-wheeler last night

Von Ormy Police Chief Lionel Perez Jr. told KENS 5 the department arrested 29-year-old Anthony Sanchez, who was driving the vehicle. 

Sanchez now faces 14 charges including, unauthorized use of a vehicle, unlawfully carrying a weapon, and 12 "smuggling of persons" charges. He currently faces a bond of $255,000.

Police said the migrants were from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Chief Perez Jr. said the migrants would likely be returned home. 

"If these are individuals who have not been prosecuted before for illegal entry they will normally end up getting transported back to their originating country," Perez Jr. said.  

Perez also noted that local smuggling incidents have ended in far worse circumstances.  On June 27, 2022, 46 suspected migrants were found dead in a sweltering trailer on a remote back road in southwestern San Antonio.  On July 23, 2017, eight migrants were found dead in a sweltering trailer at a San Antonio Walmart parking lot. Two others died later in hospitals. The driver was sentenced to life in prison.

Former Homeland Security Investigations agent Aristides Jimenez told KENS 5 the area around the I-35 and Loop 410 interchange continues to be a hot spot for trafficking migrants.  Jimenez served Homeland Security Investigations from 2006 to 2013 and worked with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office afterwards. He says San Antonio is often the first stop for traffickers after they cross the border.  

"San Antonio sits in the crossroads of I-35 going south to north and I-10 going east to west,"  Jimenez said. "It's a place they (migrants) come off the tractor trailer and them move to a stash house or are awaiting other transportation." 

Jimenez said truck stops and parking lots along I-35 are commonly used to switch migrants between vehicles.

"Truck stops past exit 145 on I-35, that is a well-known location where they get off that first vehicle coming from the south and now they are going to get in anther vehicle with a family member or transporting organization. I-35 and 410, everybody knows that one," Jimenez. 

Jimenez said the traffickers often have no regard for the health of the migrants and they can end up locked in a truck and dying from the heat. He said it's fortunate that didn't happen here. 

"Imagine if these 12 individuals, instead of being behind the cab of the trailer, they were in the pipe in the back. They would have no way to escape and no air," Jimenez said. "Border Patrol has already reporting an increase of people found dying in the brush. The smugglers just leave them behind." 

Chief Perez Jr. said Von Ormy officers regularly patrol truck stops and parking lots to look for drug trafficking, human trafficking, and prostitution. He also told KENS 5 this situation could have ended much worse. Fortunately, in this case, the officer ran the 18-wheelers plates and discovered it was stolen. 

"Our officer did a great job at being able to detect this 18-wheeler and I'm glad that the 12 individuals were not in the tanker portion but the truck portion. We're just glad that everybody was in good health, including the one pregnant woman." Perez Jr. said.

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