APRIL 18, 2007
Two separate illegal immigrant smuggling rings caused deadly incidents on U.S. highways this week, illustrating how the lucrative business is spreading its violence north of the border and threatening innocent Americans.
In the first event a sports utility vehicle loaded with illegal immigrants rolled over in Utah’s Four Corners area, killing eight people and injuring six others. The driver, Rigoberto Salas-Lopez, initially fled into the desert but was later apprehended and admitted he was transporting illegal aliens from Guatemala and Mexico.
A few days later a man was killed and four people were injured after a wild west-style shootout involving rival smugglers – known as coyotes – broke out on a Houston highway. At about noon, the occupants of two northbound trucks loaded with illegal immigrants exchanged gunfire and the vehicles later ran a red light and crashed into a car.
The smugglers then got out of their vehicle and continued with the gun battle on a nearby road of Houston’s Southwest Freeway. Innocent bystanders were hurt and traffic was tied up for hours. One local news outlet said the Southwest Freeway was more like the OK Corral as rolling gunfight broke out.
This kind of violence among human smugglers is not unprecedented in Houston, which is considered a major distribution hub for traffickers of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Last year, gunfire erupted in two separate area neighborhoods between rival smugglers battling for human cargo.
Advocates of illegal immigration blame the escalation in deadly incidents on the U.S., saying that tighter security at the Texas-Mexico border is what has actually led to increased violence between competing smugglers..
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