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Deputy stops rental truck towing go-fast boat, finds 32 migrants hiding inside

Authorities find 32 undocumented migrants inside a go-fast boat on Monday morning in the Florida Keys.
Authorities find 32 undocumented migrants inside a go-fast boat on Monday morning in the Florida Keys. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – A deputy found 32 undocumented people — including two pregnant women — hiding in a go-fast boat that was on a trailer attached to a truck on Monday morning in Monroe County.

Reidel Garcia-Espino, 39, of Seffner, Fla., was driving the rental truck with three children, ages 1, 4, and 5, who were not in a car seat, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Joel Slough was on patrol about 6 a.m. when he saw the truck heading northbound on U.S. 1 near 107th Street. During the traffic stop, Slough detected an “overwhelming smell of saltwater and body odor.”

A deputy found 32 undocumented migrants hiding in a go-fast boat on a trailer attached to a truck on Monday during a traffic stop in Monroe County. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Garcia-Espino told Slough they had been fishing, but Slough grew suspicious when Garcia-Espino couldn’t show him his fishing gear, deputies said.

Slough called for backup. Key Colony Beach Police and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers responded. Federal agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations also responded.

A deputy found 32 undocumented migrants hiding in a go-fast boat on a trailer attached to a truck on Monday during a traffic stop in Monroe County. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Border Protection agents took custody of the undocumented migrants and officers arrested Garcia-Espino, who is facing child neglect charges and is under investigation for human smuggling.

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About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.