A federal agency has ordered the Northwest Iowa trucking company that owned a semi-trailer involved in a deadly human trafficking case shut down.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put Pyle Transportation under an “out-of-service” status Monday, records show. The order came after the FMSCA conducted a review of Pyle Transportation’s safety practices in August, agency spokesman Duane DeBruyne said. The status means Pyle Transportation is not authorized to operate
“The compliance review investigation found a number of deficiencies in their compliance with the federal safety regulations,” DeBruyne said.
The agency’s review was initiated after eight undocumented immigrants were found dead inside a semi-trailer owned by Pyle Transportation in July, DeBruyne said. The trailer was found in a Wal-Mart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas. Another two immigrants later died at a hospital.
Even though the review began after the deaths in Texas, DeBruyne said any action taken by his agency against Pyle Transportation was not due to the incident.
“This is entirely focused on the safety regulations that the companies are required to comply with. We only have that authority,” he said.
The Associated Press first reported the out-of-service order Thursday.
Brian Pyle, the trucking company’s owner, denied knowing the trailer was being used to transport people. He has also said the trailer’s driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., operated mostly independently from Pyle Transporation.
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During an interview with the AP in July, Pyle said he sold the trailer to someone in Mexico and then hired Bradley to deliver it at a drop-off site in Brownsville, Texas.
“I’m absolutely sorry it happened,” Pyle said at the time. “I really am. It’s shocking.”
In August, a federal grand jury indicted Bradley for his role in the deaths. Bradley also had denied knowing he was transporting immigrants.
Prosecutors argued Bradley drove the trailer up Interstate 35 in Texas as temperatures reached into triple-digits, the Washington Post reported in July. The trailer’s air conditioning system was not working.
Pyle Transporation is based in Schaller, about 60 miles east of Sioux City. The company has run into legal trouble in the past and failed to pay federal employment taxes, the Washington Post previously reported.
DeBruyne said Thursday Pyle can still appeal or contest the out-of-service order. In the interim, though, Pyle’s company is not permitted to have any trucks on the road.
Violations of an out-of-service order, DeBruyne said, can trigger criminal proceedings by the U.S. Department of Justice.
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