SAN ANTONIO – A dozen immigrants found in a truck outside a South Side motel room are San Antonio’s latest suspected case of human smuggling.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Homeland Security said agents are interviewing people who are “in violation of federal immigration law for entering the country illegally.” Since the investigation is still ongoing, no other details are being released, such as where they’re from or the circumstances surrounding their discovery at the Nogalitos Motel early Tuesday evening.
Aldo Maldonado, an employee at a car wash next to the motel, said he saw police cars, fire engines and ambulances responding to what initially was considered “a mass casualty incident.”
Maldonado said he wasn’t surprised to hear that human smuggling was likely involved since last July’s incident, in which 10 undocumented immigrants perished in a tractor-trailer parked at a Walmart, was only 5 miles away.
"These types of problems are getting closer to neighborhoods," Maldonado said.
The area is near Interstate 35, leading to the Texas-Mexico border.
Maldonado said at first, bystanders didn’t know what was going on, believing a murder victim or a decomposing body had been found at the motel in the 3800 block of Nogalitos. He said he saw one person wearing a robe and mask over his mouth put into an ambulance.
A spokesperson for the San Antonio Fire Department said all 12 people were transported to University Hospital to be checked out. The HSI spokeswoman, however, would not say why.
The motel manager said two people checked into room 120 on Monday and they were still there Tuesday, but he didn’t know about the other people who were taken by HSI as part of “an enforcement action.”