Human trafficking is a serious problem that is behind many forms of crime. Human traffickers trade and smuggle individuals illegally into the US, often in order to engage the undocumented immigrants in slavery, forced labor, or prostitution. In many cases, the victims of human slavery are denied basic human rights and are pushed to engage in illegal activities. In many cases, human trafficking also supports organized crime.
There are also many secondary risks of human trafficking – including the risks associated with smuggling groups of people across borders. Recently, this risk was highlighted when a late-night car accident killed nine undocumented immigrants in Texas. Seven people were arrested in the incident, among them a 15-year-old boy that police say was driving an overcrowded minivan at the time of the incident.
Authorities say that 19 undocumented immigrants were crammed into the van at the time of the crash. The driver was allegedly trying to escape U.S. Border Patrol when the accident occurred. Speed may have been a factor and the driver lost control of the car, resulting in a rollover. The passengers in the van were ejected from the vehicle onto U.S. Highway 83. The accident took place outside of San Antonio, in Palmview after the driver fled a traffic stop.
The seven people who have been arrested face human smuggling charges. The young driver was found and arrested in a rural Hidalgo County residence.
A criminal complaint has been filed in a McAllen, Texas. The young man believed to be the driver is too young to face federal court, so the local district attorney will consult with investigators to determine whether the boy will face charges as an adult or a juvenile. According to the complaint, the six adults charged in the case have been accused of having an immigrant stash house. The house was allegedly located less than one mile from where the accident took place.
According to investigators and authorities, the undocumented immigrants in the minivan were likely from Mexico. They were to be taken to a spot close to a Border Patrol checkpoint near Sarita in Texas. The plan was for them to walk through the brush in order to escape the notice of immigration authorities, according to the complaint filed in Texas. The undocumented immigrants were then reportedly planning to travel to Atlanta, Houston, and New York. The investigation into the incident and the smuggling ring continues.