“We are dying in here”: Texas authorities search for tanker truck after 911 caller reports dozens trapped inside

The New York Post:

Federal, state and local authorities in Texas are searching for a tanker truck days after a 911 caller in the San Antonio area reported dozens of people were trapped inside it, offering a glimpse into the difficulties authorities face in investigating human trafficking.

In the recording of the Monday emergency call obtained by The Associated Press, a man can be heard pleading for help. The caller says there are an estimated 80 people inside the truck’s tank — typically used to haul liquids or gases that can be hazardous — and that they can’t breathe.

“We are dying in here,” the caller says in Spanish, telling a dispatcher that the white tanker truck was parked and that he could hear passing cars. People can be heard gasping and screaming in the background. Then, the call dropped.

Javier Salazar, the sheriff of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, told the AP on Thursday that all he wants now is to find out if the people survived the trip and made it to their final destinations. Salazar said he is not interested in prosecuting the people who were inside the tank, because they’re victims. But he wants to hold those who trapped them accountable.

“That is the kind of thing as a first responder you lose sleep over,” Salazar said. “You are just wondering ‘are there people that were dumped in our county and just waiting to be found?’”

San Antonio police also are investigating but declined comment, saying they had given the information they received to the federal Department of Homeland Security.

A spokesperson for Homeland Security said in a statement that its investigations division is “looking into an incident along with local law enforcement partners regarding a possible human smuggling event” and that no further details could be released.

Salazar said one of his deputies was able to locate surveillance camera footage of a business where the call was traced. The business — along Interstate 35, which stretches southwest from San Antonio to the border with Mexico — is not involved in the criminal investigation, Salazar said, but provided the video.

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