Driver charged after truck full of migrants broke down in Jackson County

ByMycah Hatfield KTRK logo
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Border Patrol respond to truck that may have carried 100 people inside
A south Texas sheriff's office almost 90 miles away from Houston said as many as 82 of those people left the tractor-trailer when it broke down Friday morning.

GANADO, Texas -- A driver is facing federal charges after close to 100 people believed to be migrants were found in the back of a broken-down 18-wheeler on the side of Highway 59 in Jackson County last week.

At about 7 a.m. Friday, a DPS trooper spotted the tractor-trailer pulled over on the side of the road near Highway 59 and County Road 202 in Ganado. When he asked the driver, later identified as Codi Denise Hartman, if she needed any help, she reportedly said she ran out of diesel fuel.

The video featured above is from a previous report.

The trooper continued to question Hartman, who said she was hauling energy drinks, according to court documents. By that time, the trooper said he heard multiple people banging on the walls and doors, asking for help.

When he opened the back of the truck, officials say roughly 60 to 100 migrants scattered, some heading to a nearby private ranch.

The Jackson County Sheriff said he was able to speak with one of the migrants who said they drove through the night and ended up breaking down in Ganado.

The migrants in the back of the truck were not given any food or water, and the air conditioning unit was not working properly, causing extremely hot conditions in the truck.

According to authorities, 65 people were taken into custody, not including Hartman. Several people were taken to the hospital to be treated for dehydration.

Hartman eventually reportedly told authorities she had been offered $800 to make a five-hour trip that was destined for "somewhere" in Houston. Investigators reportedly obtained messages from Hartman to an unidentified number telling the other person that they needed to check on the people in the back of the truck to make sure they were still breathing.

Hartman was arrested for human smuggling and charged. The 65 people found in the truck were placed under arrest for entering the U.S. illegally. They were all taken to the Jackson County Jail for further investigation.

The situation near Ganado is reminiscent of a similar circumstance that happened not too far away 19 years ago this month, but with a historically deadly outcome.

In May 2003, 19 of 70 undocumented immigrants discovered trapped in a truck trailer near Victoria, Texas, died from dehydration, overheating, and suffocation in what is considered the deadliest smuggling incident in U.S. history.