By Ted Hesson and Kristina Cooke WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US authorities are investigating reports that about 80 migrants may have been trapped in a tanker on Monday and were having difficulty breathing, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said. (ICE (NYSE :)) said Thursday. The official said ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit was investigating 911 calls made Monday in San Antonio, Texas. “We are dying,” said a man who called in Spanish while asking for help on one of the calls, according to recordings obtained by Reuters. Moaning from others could be heard in the background. ICE’s investigative unit is seeking to know if the incident may have been human trafficking, the official said. “At first glance, it is at least human trafficking,” said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter. The investigation comes as arrests of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border have been on the rise after a sharp drop at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In January, US officials encountered nearly 78,000 migrants attempting to cross the southern border illegally or being denied access to ports of entry, a 6 percent increase from the previous month. The field office for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Antonio and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In one of the calls, a man said a white truck with about 80 people inside was pulled over on the side of the road, according to the recording. “We don’t have oxygen,” the man said at one point. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, whose jurisdiction includes San Antonio, described the scene in an interview with KABB, a local Fox affiliate. “It‘s heartbreaking to hear because clearly behind the caller in the background, you can hear others in the car, in the trailer, and they also yell for help in Spanish and say they have run out of air, “he said.
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