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Migrant workers detained after passerby on I-20 suspects foul play

COVINGTON -- Around 80 Mexican migrant workers were detained for a short time at the Newton County Sheriff's Office Thursday morning after a passerby called 911 and said they saw someone being forced into the under-carriage of a bus on Interstate 20.

According to NCSO spokesman Lt. Tyrone Oliver, deputies made a traffic stop on what turned out to be two buses traveling east at I-20 and exit 92.

"After that they determined there was one person under one bus where it had been made into sleeping quarters. He was under there free and voluntarily," Oliver said, adding that the purpose of the compartment was for the bus drivers to sleep.

"There was access to air conditioning, a telephone, they could read. There was no foul play or anything like that," he said.

Oliver said the buses were detoured to the NCSO parking lot so they could be inspected for safety violations by the Georgia Department of Public Safety and any other infringements.

"They all had passports and work permits and had all crossed the border legally and went through customs checkpoints down in Texas," Oliver said.

The group is headed to the North Carolina Growers Association meeting and according to their work permits are intending to work in the tobacco fields in North Carolina.