Tunnel Hill Police Break Up Suspected Smuggling Operation

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 5/07/2013 6:58 pm
TUNNEL HILL, GA. (WDEF) --- Sixteen people packed into a mini-van are taken off the streets.
They were headed southbound on I-75 when a Tunnel Hill police officer stopped them.
Investigators believe this is all part of a smuggling operation.

The Driver of the Silver Nissan Quest pulled up his hoodie when he saw the Tunnel Hill SUV, he quickly changed lanes.
That was enough for Lt. Scott Reneau who pulled the vehicle to the side of Interstate 75 south.
Inside were 15 men and a woman from El Salvador and Guatemala.

LT. SCOTT RENEAU, TUNNEL HILL POLICE DEPT. "I got the driver out and started talking to him. He said they were coming from Houston and they were construction workers going to Atlanta. None of them were dressed like construction workers." "That led me to believe they were doing illegal alien smuggling."

Lt. Reneau also questioned why they were on I-75 south.

LT. RENEAU "There's a lot of interdiction units on I-10..and it could be they were trying to avoid them."

Lt. Reneau has been working the interstate for two years now with his dog, " Nay".
He's made dozens of stops like this one---mostly finding illegal drugs.

CHIEF ROY BRUNSON, TUNNEL HILL POLICE DEPT. "...Pirated materials like counterfeit shoes, counterfeit clothes and things , everything goes up and down I-75."

Reneau says don't believe the stories about how fewer people are trying to come in illegally.

LT. RENEAU "It's still going on..I mean everybody wants to come to our country...some to better their lives, others for different motives...that shouldn't be here."

Little Tunnel Hill is making some noise with its interdiction program.
And its not just smuggling.

CHIEF ROY BRUNSON "We've encountered some people that really we were fortunate to get off the street."

One of the men in that van will be spending some time in an American jail.
This is the second time he's been apprehended, and he'll face criminal charges.

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