Feds release new info: Man accused of smuggling immigrants in trailer admits to driving truck

53 people found inside tractor-trailer, suspect ID'd as Gerardo Carreon

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator, Brina Monterroza, Bill Barajas - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - UPDATE (6/14/18 6 p.m.): Members of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, an organization dedicated to educating and providing legal services to undocumented immigrants, claim Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied them access to the undocumented immigrants as they were taken into federal custody.

RAICES members also claim that at least one of the undocumented immigrants was deported before he was given legal counsel.

ICE denied the allegations and released the following statement:

"Anyone who was not functioning in a law enforcement or first-responder capacity was denied access in order to maintain the safety and integrity of the site. Providing medical attention, maintaining a safe environment, collecting evidence, and identifying potential victims and witnesses are all of paramount importance at any crime scene,” said Shane M. Folden, HSI special agent in charge.

UPDATE 10:18 p.m.: Gerardo Javier Carreon, the man accused of driving a tractor-trailer full of undocumented immigrants on the North Side, admitted to investigators that he traveled from Laredo to San Antonio on Tuesday, a federal document said.

Carreon said another person drove the truck to near H-E-B warehouse near Rittiman Road on the Northeast Side and parked it there.

Carreon then drove to the warehouse and picked up the truck. He drove to an alleyway near Loop 410 and Broadway, where the undocumented immigrants ran out. All 53 were eventually caught.

Carreon said he used bolt cutters to cut the seal of the trailer to allow the immigrants to exit, the document said. 

The document said the youngest person in the trailer was 16 years old.

Carreon remains in federal detention.

(Previously)

Officials with Homeland Securities Investigations released new information on Wednesday following a possible human smuggling case where 53 people were found inside a tractor-trailer Tuesday night on San Antonio's North Side.

The group was found inside a tractor-trailer around 8:30 p.m. in the 8400 block of Laurelcrest Place near Loop 410 and Broadway.

Shane M. Folden, HSI Special Agent in Charge, said the group of immigrants consisted of men, women and minors. Folden said they were from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Brazil.

Folden also identified a person arrested in connection with the case as 36-year-old Gerardo Javier Carreon of Laredo.

Carreon was expected to be charged with federal human smuggling violations, Folden said.

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According to Folden, all the immigrants were provided medical assistance at the scene.

Five were transported to the hospital, and all but one had been released as of Wednesday. 

"The people rescued from this tractor-trailer were very lucky to have been discovered before the Texas heat took its toll,” Folden said in a press release. “We have recently seen how smuggled people have died under the dangerous circumstances human smugglers transport their human cargo.  These horrific instances show how no one should trust their lives — or the lives of their loved ones — to these criminal organizations.” 

Folden credited the San Antonio fire and police departments for their assistance in the case.

According to Folden, the immigrants were still in the process of being identified and interviewed.

The investigation is being led by HSI, according to the release.

WATCH: Tow truck driver delivers pizza to immigrants found in big rig

Note: This story has been continuously updated since its original publication and has new information provided by federal authorities. 

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