LAREDO, Texas – A disabled dump truck towed by law enforcement authorities to an impound yard was later found to contain 36 immigrants believed to be in the U.S. illegally, the Laredo Police Department said Friday.
According to police, the individuals were secreted inside a compartment obscured by a layer of sand, gravel, and dirt for several hours before they were discovered Thursday. Police searched the truck after receiving an anonymous tip. The illegal immigrants were reportedly unharmed, despite their perilous circumstances.
Police officials told NBC News the truck was in a remote impound lot, and the people might not have been discovered had it not been for the tip. They said the people were not initially seen or heard.
The truck came to the attention of authorities Thursday morning after a flat tire forced it to stop on a Laredo road, police said. As a result of the existing traffic hazard, police responded to the scene, according to NBC News.
Driver Ruben Plata, 62, told police the situation was under control. Moreover, he said that a supervisor and private tow truck were en route. Nevertheless, alert officers checked his background and discovered he was wanted for a parole violation connected to a homicide case, Laredo police said.
With the driver in handcuffs, police impounded the truck and received the tip a short time later, they said.
When rescue crews and paramedics arrived at the lot, they knocked on the truck and heard a knock back, police told NBC News.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the immigrants allegedly crossed the border or where they are from.