Pyle Transportation Faces Investigation After Deadly Human Smuggling

A small-town trucking company, Pyle Transportation, has always promoted itself as a family firm with an emphasis on love of country and faith in God. Their website, which has recently been taken down, displayed pictures of smiling truck drivers and the slogan "Keepin' it Cool Since 1950".

This past Monday, one of Pyle Transportation's drivers was charged with the death of 10 immigrants found packed into a Pyle trailer. The driver, James "Bear" Bradley Jr., claimed he was unaware of the trailer's contents, but he knew that the refrigerator system was not working. He first heard their pleas after stopping at a Walmart on Sunday.

Owner Brian Pyle told investigators that the company sold the trailer and hired "Bear" to drive it to Brownsville, Texas, to deliver it to the buyer. Pyle refused to name the buyer and showed a reporter a bill of sale dated May 10 that did not indicate a price. Bradley stated that he was given neither an address nor a time for delivery while Pyle claimed he was given both.

Refrigerator truck in rural Iowa

Former colleagues of Bradley were shocked to hear about what happened. Paul Terry of Denver said, "Knowing Bear, the pieces don't fit. I believe Bear was set up. He is a country boy and he don't know that much. No way in the world could he orchestrate something like that." Another said the company was constantly looking for ways to save money and make money.

Dozens of immigrants were packed into a dark trailer after being smuggled across the border. Federal authorities described the situation as sophisticated and possibly linked to a cartel, but Pyle denied any knowledge of human smuggling. Federal regulators have since launched an investigation into the company's safety record.

Former employees revealed that it was a miracle the company was still in business. Pyle Transportation defied federal laws, suffered financial troubles, and dealt with prosecutors, regulators, and tax collectors on multiple occasions. Drivers were pushed to drive too many hours without rest, warp their logs, and transport overweight loads on unrealistic deadlines. After drivers quit, the company refused to pay them wages they were owed.

In 2001, Pyle Truck Lines pleaded guilty of falsifying Department of Transportation records and were put on probation. Then, in 2015, the IRS reported that Pyle Transportation refused to pay employment and highway use taxes, which has added up to $150,000 in liabilities. The company has also been operating under a "conditional" safety rating.

Brian Pyle denied to comment on Monday about the company's operations and did not return any messages left on Thursday seeking further information. Brian's father and former owner, Michael Pyle, also declined comments.

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