Was it “coincidence” Border Patrol agents “overlooked” Bradley’s trailer?
Investigators with Homeland Security are looking into how James Bradley was able to bring his trailer full of as many as 200 immigrants through a Border Patrol-run traffic checkpoint on Interstate 35 north of Laredo.
Perhaps we can offer them a direction to point their investigation. Corruption, than runs rampant through the ranks of the Border Patrol. It’s not difficult to find incidences of corruption within the BP, the largest law enforcement agency in the United States.
From agents getting away with shooting migrants in the back as they try to flee, to shooting across international borders and killing Mexican citizens standing in their own sovereign country. Agents being indicted in Arizona for allowing loads of drugs to pass through their portals in Arizona. Agents charged with rape and sexual abust of migrants in their custody, the lists goes on and on.
My sources tell me that the “fee” to cross the Border Patrol checkpoint north of Laredo is $7500.00 more or less. Whether that money goes to one bent agent or is shared with a supevisor or others, is open for debate.
But consider this. agents manning these posts aren’t on post for an entire 8 hour shift. They are relieved randomly for breaks and when they return, they are posted to a different lane. So obviously, a supervisor would need to be involved.
Think about it. $7500 dollars is a pretty good payday for turning a blind eye.
Bradley passed through the checkpoint around 10 p.m. Saturday. Police were called to the San Antonio Walmart parking lot at 12:23 a.m. Sunday.
The tractor-trailer would have been inspected but obviously with negative results. In this case, as in many others, the iinspection would be two questions;
“Are you a U.S. citizen,” AND, “Is there anyone else with you?” AND “What are you hauling” The agent might have glanced into the tractor from their elevated positions. Total time, 30 seconds maybe. But at 10:00 p.m. at night, there is not a high level of truck traffic passing the checkpoint, especially on a Saturday night.
While the Border Patrol refuses to speak specifically about the Bradley case, it concedes human cargo might slip through in commercial trucks without a full-blown inspection because of the massive traffic that passes through there every day, even at night.
Joel Martinez, acting deputy chief of the Border Patrol’s Laredo sector, said in an interview that it’s impossible to fully check every commercial truck that comes through, especially opening up trailer doors to see what’s inside.
“While we do do our due diligence, and try to talk to as many as possible, just the sheer numbers we’re dealing with, the odds are stacked against us from the beginning,” Martinez said.
Martinez said agents check every truck by talking to the driver and examining their paperwork. If the driver or occupants of the rig are not U.S. citizens, permit paperwork is scrutinized. Border Patrol agents also look at paperwork stating what’s in the trailer.
Actually, it’s rare agents will ask for Bills of Lading or other documents, choosing instead to merely ask.
The trucks are not weighed, and the vehicles will only be X-rayed on secondary inspection, he said. But the Border Patrol agents will look for signs that might raise suspicion and require that fuller, secondary inspection.
“Because of the volume of traffic, they have seconds to determine whether they want to investigate the truck further or not,” Martinez said.
But if no suspicion is aroused, trucks are let through.
“In this case, if the guy didn’t show signs of nervousness, there was no need to hold him up,” Martinez said.
The court documents said people inside reported to investigators later that they were pounding on the interior walls, although it’s not known at what time they were desperately trying to get out.
Martinez said “it stands to reason that if our agents would have heard something like that, they would have stopped it.”
Something to consider though. The trailer in question, a refrigerated trailer manufactured by Great Dane has a three inch polyurethane insulation layer in the walls. One of the most durable trailers manufactured. Immigrant victims interviewed from their hospital beds said they were shouting and banging on the walls trying to summon help.
Obviously, when the trailer was stopped, at the checkpoint, they would have doubled their efforts. Would they have been noticed or heard? 100 or more people banging on the walls and shouting? I would think so.
But what if they weren’t ignored by a corrupted agent and simply weren’t heard?
Consider up to 200 people confined in a space 53 foot long by 100 inches wide 9 foot tall. Packed in there like the proverbial “sardines in a can”. Can you imagine the sweat, the body odor, the human waste?
These trailers have 4 drain holes, two front, two in the back corners. Plugged or not, the K9’s the Border Patrol have would have gone batshit crazy when their sensitive noses detected those scents. Unless of course, the dogs were kept away from the lane Bradley crossed.
So many questions, so few logical answers
Shane Folden, the current special agent in charge of ICE and HSI, said his agency is investigating the trailer case and its possible link to a larger smuggling chain.
“Like I said, the goal is to put together the network and dismantle the organization, and a lot of the time, one of the key pieces to that is the money,” Folden said. “It’s usually a primary motivator for the criminals.
“You usually have individuals who are responsible for driving, but you also have individuals for recruiting drivers. You have individuals responsible for managing stash houses both north of the border and south of the border. Have individuals responsible for managing the money. There can be a whole lot of different nodes in these networks that we want to focus on,” he added.
And the investigation continues, as does this series. From arrest to conviction and beyond.
This post is part of the thread: San Antonio Migrant Deaths – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.
35 years in the trucking business and living in Mexico for the past 15 years, make me uniquely qualified to offer my insight and opinion into the Mexican trucking industry and other border issues. A contributor to SiriuxXM Road Dog Channel 106 and to the award winning Lockridge Report, Mexico Trucker Online continues to publish the unvarnished truth about the subjects we cover.