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Man charged with smuggling 20 undocumented immigrants in semitrailer faces judge

Authorities say 20 people who entered the country illegally were hiding inside this cargo truck. Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Irving Hernandez-Rueda, 21, will go before a judge Wednesday morning where he could be making a plea bargain.

He was arrested on Aug. 16 after he allegedly tried to smuggle 20 undocumented immigrants from El Paso to Pecos, Texas.

According to court documents, he was stopped at a checkpoint in Sierra Blanca when an x-ray machine revealed the immigrants.

Those same documents say Hernandez was to be paid $1,000.

One of the immigrants said he paid $1,200 to be smuggled into the U.S.

Border Patrol officials said the immigrants were all men from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

They were all in good health, but immigration attorney Iliana Holguin says immigrants often “don’t realize or don’t understand how dangerous that track could be,” and “are placed very frequently in life-threatening situations.”

Holguin says that immigrants often come to the U.S. due to “of the tremendous instability and violence in their countries.” She adds that “their government's inability, frankly, to protect its own citizens,” is another factor.

According to court documents, two of the immigrants say they crossed into the United States illegally via the Rio Grande River near downtown.

One says he crossed illegally in late July and the other claims he crossed in early August, just weeks before the bust.

The documents say the immigrants were moved twice to different houses before making the trip toward Pecos. It’s still not clear if that was their last stop.

Hernandez will testify before the court on Monday at 8:30 a.m.

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