MCCLAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A human trafficking investigation is now underway, after an estimated 50 people were seen piling from the back of a broken-down semi in McClain County. It’s believed a majority of them are from South America and that they had been packed like sardines in the back of the truck for nearly 24-hours.

“We’re very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time,” said Joshua Cruz, owner of McClain County Towing and Diesel Engine Masters LLC.

Monday night on a rural highway near Wayne, a broken down semi-truck and several SUV’s pulled into the lot across the street from Cruz’s business. Thinking it was a new customer, Cruz and his crew went over to help.

“They started pulling out as fast as they could. The driver of the truck jumped out, slammed the door, ran around, jumped in the car, and everybody left,” said Cruz. “We heard banging on the side of the trailer. People screaming, ‘Help me! Help me!’ We open the back of the trailer and it was full of people.”

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Human trafficking victims were found in the trailer of this semi-truck.

Cruz said at least 50 children were packed inside. He estimated all of them were between 10 and 16 years old.

“It smelled terrible,” said Cruz. “There were six or seven water drinking bottles that had been filled with urination and then defecated all over the trailer,” said Cruz.

The McClain County Sheriff’s Office said it appears the victims are undocumented immigrants. Thankfully, Cruz’s crew speaks Spanish and were able to extract information from them. Some of the victims told the crew they are Guatemalan but were taken against their will in Texas. The Sheriff’s Office told KFOR they had been in the trailer for 20-hours straight.

“The younger kids looked like they had been beaten, looked like they’d been starved,” said Cruz.

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The inside of a semi-truck trailer believed to have been used to smuggle people from Guatemala. KFOR file photo.

After giving them food and water, Cruz called 911. While on the phone, he said the suspects in the SUVs came back allegedly armed. Cruz’s crew was also locked and loaded.

“I told [the dispatcher], ‘You need to get some officers down here pretty quick because there’s about to be a gun fight,’” said Cruz. “People were screaming, ‘Do not let them get us! They’re going to kill us!’”

However, when the lights and sirens pulled up, Cruz said the suspects and the majority of the victims scattered. Seven stayed with the crew.

Right now, The McClain County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police and The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics are looking for the remaining 40 or so victims. They’re also still searching for the suspects.

As for the seven victims who were rescued, they’re currently in custody while deputies try to get them some help.

“Thank God that we were able to help them,” said Cruz.