US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Call to Action: Dangers of Human Smuggling

Release Date: 
July 10, 2020

EDINBURG, Texas – As temperatures rise throughout South Texas, the U.S. Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector continues its efforts to put an end to life-threatening smuggling attempts.  

Alien smuggling and human trafficking are a lucrative business conducted with no regard for human life. While the sector leads the nation in illegal alien apprehensions, agents continue to rescue aliens locked inside tractor-trailer cargo areas. The dangers of this tactic are enhanced with the excessive summer heat experienced in South Texas.

National interest on this dangerous tactic originated in South Texas after a horrific incident on July 23, 2017, when 10 people tragically lost their lives due to dehydration and overheating after they were locked in an trailer abandoned in a Wal-Mart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas.

In response, on November of 2017, the Joint Task Force West, South Texas Corridor launched the Operation Big Rig campaign to raise awareness to the dangers and consequences of human ​smuggling. The campaign enhances community engagement and ensures uniformity in the law enforcement response to alien smugglers who utilize commercial vehicles. The goal of this initiative is to eliminate smuggling attempts and prevent pointless tragedies.

Partnerships with businesses and other law enforcement agencies have proven essential in the distribution of information to truck drivers, and the general public on how to report an incident and how law enforcement will respond.

Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2020, agents in the RGV Sector have rescued of hundreds of people from tractor trailers, many of whom did not have a means of escape.

As a reminder, Operation Big Rig is a call to action for everyone -- the media, community, neighbors, family, and friends -- to call 9-1-1 if they see or are aware of smuggling or suspicious activity of any kind. Reporting an incident, will save lives.   

Please visit www.cbp.gov to view additional news releases and other information pertaining to Customs and Border Protection. Follow us on Twitter @CBPRGV, @USBPChiefRGV and @USBPDepChiefRGV.

Last modified: 
July 10, 2020