As investigators piece together how dozens of undocumented immigrants ended up in the back of a sweltering 18-wheeler in San Antonio, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is reflecting on the bigger issue of human smuggling.
“It’s a humanitarian crisis, and in my view murder, when you stuff people when it's 100 degrees or more in the back of a truck. Who knows how long they were in that truck. I’ve always said, I’ve said this for years, no one should have to die to come to America,” said Patrick.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, more than 670 human trafficking cases were reported in Texas in 2016.
That statistic is much higher than the previous four years.
There were 433 cases reported in Texas in 2015, 452 cases in 2014, 431 cases in 2013, and 372 human trafficking cases reported in 2012.
“A truck, a driver, all the people stuffed in the back of the trailer truck – this is not by happen stance. This is organized. They organize because they think they can come to Texas, or other cities in America, and have a safe haven,” said Patrick.
It’s an organized network operating in Houston too.
Just two weeks ago, police say a dozen people were rescued from the back of a rental truck in a strip center on Harwin.
Priscila Perez Beltran, 21, Adela Alvarez, 26, and Nelson Cortes Garcia, 27, were charged with human smuggling.
Crime Stoppers of Houston reports the I-10 corridor in the Greater Houston area is a major hub for human trafficking.
The Lt. Gov. says sanctuary cities are part of the problem, and legal immigration reform is the solution.
“Those who think sanctuary cities are a great idea, this is what happens. When people think they can come to America illegally, because there’s an oasis somewhere that they can live in, that just draws them to fall into the clutches of people who smuggle people across the border,” said Patrick.