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Border Patrol agents at Falfurrias checkpoint find 26 people hidden in secret compartment

Border Patrol agents at the Falfurrias checkpoint arrested a man driving a Budget rental truck Friday after they found a secret compartment behind the cab — with 26 people jammed inside. (U.S. Border Patrol)

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KGBT) - Border Patrol agents at the Falfurrias checkpoint arrested a man driving a Budget rental truck Friday after they found a secret compartment behind the cab — with 26 people jammed inside.

James Clayton Pool arrived at the Falfurrias checkpoint Friday night driving a Budget rental truck, according to the federal criminal complaint against him.

Agents sent Pool to secondary inspection after a K-9 alerted to the truck.

When agents searched the truck, they didn't find anything unusual, according to the criminal complaint. The cargo area contained nothing but a "small appliance hand truck."

An X-ray examination, though, revealed what appeared to be a secret compartment behind the cab.

"Inside the compartment, the backscatter identified the silhouettes of multiple people," according to the criminal complaint.

Agents broke through a wall in the truck and found 26 people hiding inside.

The 26 people were jammed in a secret compartment that measured 8 feet 6 inches tall, 8 feet 6 inches wide, and 5 feet long, according to the criminal complaint.

Border Patrol determined all 26 people weren't legally present in the United States.

"Interviews of all 26 aliens were conducted by Border Patrol agents," according to the criminal complaint. "No interviewee admitted to ever seeing the driver. Two material witnesses were able to provide some information pertaining to their encounter while most appeared coached and stuck to their script."

Pool is charged with bringing in and harboring aliens.

U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington ordered Pool held without bond until a preliminary examination and detention hearing on Thursday.

An attorney for Pool couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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