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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Star-Telegram | 07/20/2004 | Trooper foils planned dispersal in Fort Worth

Star-Telegram | 07/20/2004 | Trooper foils planned dispersal in Fort Worth
Trooper foils planned dispersal in Fort Worth

By John Gutierrez-Mier;Caren M. Penland

Star-Telegram Staff Writers


WEATHERFORD - State trooper John Forrest has pulled over countless trucks in his 33 years of patrolling highways in Parker County.

But when he stopped a truck on Interstate 20 Sunday morning and opened the trailer, he wasn't expecting to find 30 pairs of eyes staring back at him.

"The air was stale, and it was already getting hot," said Forrest, who pulled the truck over near the Willow Park exit, just east of Weatherford, after he noticed that the back wasn't properly sealed.

"I'm sure those folks were miserable by the time I stopped them, with no fresh air, no restroom facilities" and no way of knowing how much longer the trip would last.

It turns out that the undocumented workers -- 20 from Brazil and 10 from Mexico -- were only 15 minutes away from their destination in Fort Worth. Authorities believe that had they reached Fort Worth, the immigrants would have scattered.

After the discovery, authorities removed the immigrants from the truck and took them to the Parker County Jail, where they received food and water.

Monday morning, officials transferred them to federal immigration facilities, including one in Euless, said Mike Herrera, a spokesman with the Border Patrol.

Herrera said he isn't sure when the immigrants will be deported.

"Right now, it's an open criminal investigation, and they are potential witnesses," Herrera said.

Authorities charged two men from El Paso, Rodriego Ureno, 28, and his brother, Rolando Ureno, 25, with trafficking of persons, said Cpl. Lowell Moss of the Parker County Sheriff's Department.

Both remained in the Parker County Jail late Monday in lieu of $50,000 bail each.

The undocumented immigrants, including four women, rode in the back of the truck along with several pallets of apple cider and Mexican soda.

Forrest called for backup, and trooper Adam Jara, who speaks Spanish, arrived a short time later.

Jara said all of the men and women asked for water but otherwise seemed in good spirits.

"I didn't see one jug of water in there," Jara said. "And most of the men were wearing three layers of clothes." He added that most carried small plastic bags with some clothes and toiletries in them.

"Some of them had broken into the apple cider," Jara said. He said all of them appeared to be in good health but were disappointed that they had been caught.

Forrest said the Ureno brothers are lucky that none of the immigrants were hurt.

"The trailer had began to heat up pretty good," Forrest said, adding that a small hole near the door of the trailer provided the only fresh air.

Forrest said the two brothers, who declined to be interviewed, probably received about $300 per person.

Correspondent Gale M. Bradford Contributed to This Report.

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