39 people found after dozens bail out of 18-wheeler at far East Side truck stop, SAPD says

Police estimate 80 to 100 people bailed out of the trailer; search is ongoing

SAN ANTONIOUpdate: San Antonio police said 39 people have been found in the surrounding area as of Friday morning, after a tractor-trailer was pulled over May 6.

Homeland Security Investigations responded to a call from San Antonio police after officers say 80 to 100 people escaped from the back of an 18-wheeler when an officer arrived to investigate the suspicious big rig at a far East Side truck stop.

Lt. Jesse Salame, with SAPD, said police received a call for the suspicious 18-wheeler that was eastbound on I-10 East around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

When a Park Police officer responded to the call at a truck stop near I-10 and Foster Road, he went to confront the truck driver when a group of people bailed out of the back of the 18-wheeler, Salame said.

Police estimate about 80 to 100 people -- a mix of men and women -- were in the trailer, but officials are still investigating to get an accurate count. Twenty-nine people made contact with San Antonio police and fire crews, according to Salame.

Only one person was taken to the hospital out of precaution due to dehydration, according to Joe Arrington, public information officer of the San Antonio Fire Department. The other 28 were healthy and taken on VIA buses, Salame said. It’s unclear where the buses were headed, and police directed further questions about the transportation of those individuals to HSI.

The driver, 49, may face federal charges, which will be determined by HSI, which is taking over the investigation, according to Salame.

Several first responder units, including fire crews and medical personnel, assisted at the scene. Arrington says medics will stay at the scene in case any of the other people who bailed out return.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent KSAT the following statement regarding this case:

“On May 6, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) responded to a call from San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) for assistance on a possible human smuggling event involving a semi-tractor trailer traveling on I-10, east of San Antonio. HSI is following up on the information provided by SAPD. No further details are being released at this time since the criminal investigation remains ongoing.”


About the Authors

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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