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TRANSPORTING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

By BY GABE SEMENZA -
April 25, 2009 at 10 p.m.
Updated April 25, 2009 at 11:26 p.m.

Thick underbrush, trees and native grass located near the old Hanes manufacturing plant in Harlingen, is the staging area for immigrants who have just crossed the border waiting to for transportation to safe houses in the area.

They met inside a soiled hotel, closed the door to Room 135 and embarked on a night that would scar the state forever.

Before that tractor-trailer ever left Harlingen, before news of all those deaths, three unlikely people met in a peculiar way.

One was from Ohio, the other from New York and the most cunning of them all lived right here in Texas.

Never before has their story been fully told.

This month, six years ago, events unfolded that led to that now infamous tragedy. Those events made way for a smuggler, a truck driver and a drug dealer to meet.

More so than anyone who was not stuffed into the pitch-black trailer, these three maintained a front-row seat to the worst botched human smuggling attempt in U.S. history.

Had they not met, the fates of 19 dead illegal immigrants might today be drastically different.

Abel Flores Jr., Tyrone Williams and Fatima Holloway are forever linked as the three people who last had the power to open those suffocating trailer doors.

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