55 people, some minors, found in tractor-trailer in North Side neighborhood

SAFD: Trailer was air conditioned; 5 people suffered minor injuries

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - Several dozen people were discovered in a tractor-trailer in a North Side neighborhood Tuesday night. 

Authorities from several agencies were called to the 8400 block of Laurelcrest Place around 8:30 p.m. and found 55 people suspected of entering the country illegally in and around a tractor-trailer.

As many as 10 fire units were dispatched to the scene to assist law enforcement.

Homeland Security Investigations spokeswoman Nina Pruneda confirmed that HSI is investigating the incident, but could not elaborate on the investigation.

The individuals found in the tractor-trailer appear to be in good health, however, San Antonio Fire Department chief Charles Hood said that five individuals were were treated for minor injuries they suffered while fleeing.

Hood said that the individuals were traveling in an air conditioned tractor-trailer with water and that none of the people suffered heat stroke or heat-related illnesses.

All but the five individuals taken to hospitals for minor injuries were taken to a detention center. Each person was searched and loaded into a SAPD van. By 11:30 p.m., all of the individuals had been transported from the scene.

Hood said that while most of the individuals were adults, some were minors.

A member of the community watching coverage of the incident purchased pizza for the people from the tractor-trailer. The individuals were able to enjoy the pizza around 10:30 p.m.

Antonio Fernandez, president of Catholic Charities, said late Tuesday that the group's primary goal is to assist the individuals who were hospitalized.

Jenny Hixon from Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services said RAICES will provide legal services to the 55 individuals from the tractor-trailer.

Catholic Charities assisted the San Antonio Police Department in December in a contentious human smuggling investigation that prompted an investigation by the Attorney General's office into whether Chief William McManus violated Senate Bill 4, a state law that requires heads of law enforcement agencies to cooperate with immigration officials in many instances.

In the December incident, many of the 12 individuals suspected of entering the country illegally went with Catholic Charities workers to be fed and clothed at a hotel. Others went their own way and eventually they left for their destinations.

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