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An alert Houston police officer is being called a hero he saved the lives of 12 people trapped in a hot, locked box truck in Sharpstown Sunday afternoon.

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Officer Chris Meade was canvassing a strip mall’s parking lot, when he heard people — 10 men, one woman and a 16-year-old girl — banging on the walls of the unventilated truck.

With no food and a dwindling water supply, the officer managed to remove the lock in time and save the people who were trapped inside for about 12 hours.


“Thirty more minutes, and this could have been a dozen homicide cases,” Tom Berg, Harris County First Assistant District Attorney, told the Houston Chronicle.

Meade said the Penske truck looked “out of place” in the parking lot, which tipped off the officer.

The three suspects — Priscila Perez Beltran, 21, Nelson Cortes Garcia, 27, and Adela Alvarez, 26 — each face two counts of human smuggling likely to cause injury or death and one count of human smuggling involving a minor.

They were arrested by Meade and other officers after attempting to flee.

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The 12 people, who reportedly paid to be smuggled into the U.S. from various Latin American countries, will be detained here until a trial is set.

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