U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 16 people on Nov. 20 after smugglers cut a hole in a section of U.S.-Mexico border wall and drove a truck through it.
The scheme unraveled at around 3:45 p.m on Wednesday when the smugglers drove a white Dodge 4500 utility truck through a truck-sized hole cut through an old landing-mat section of border wall.
Agents were immediately notified of the disturbance, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said in a news release on Thursday.
About 15 minutes later, agents spotted a man near a truck matching the description of the suspect vehicle attempting to use bolt cutters on a lock on a resident’s private gate near the town of Campo.
When border patrol agents turned on their siren and emergency lights to stop the truck, the driver fled, according to the news release.
“After a short pursuit the truck stopped and the driver and passengers fled,” agents said.
The driver and all 15 passengers were then tracked down and arrested. All 16 reportedly admitted to entering the U.S. illegally and were taken to a Border Patrol station nearby for “processing,” border agents said.
The group of 16 suspects included nine Mexican national males aged between 15 and 53, five Mexican national females aged between 18 and 40, as well as a 29-year-old Guatemalan woman and a 28-year-old Guatemalan man.
Officials said the 27-year-old Mexican driver’s truck was stolen. The vehicle was seized and the driver “will be criminally prosecuted,” the Sacramento Bee reported.
Officials with San Diego Border Patrol told McClatchy the Sacramento Bee that “smugglers cut the old border wall to facilitate an alien smuggling attempt.”
San Diego Sector Interim Chief Douglas Harrison said in a statement that more needs to be done to secure the area.
“[The] breach of this old landing mat wall is illustrative of the need for more hardened infrastructure with greater impedance and denial capabilities to keep the area secure. I’m proud of our agents’ steadfast vigilance that put a stop to this smuggling attempt,” said Harrison.
“A vehicle drive-thru, with overloaded and unsecured passengers, particularly in this terrain, can certainly result in a rollover accident with serious injuries and death.”
DACA Recipient Arrested for Human Smuggling
In a separate incident a day prior, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents for smuggling in an illegal immigrant near Lukeville, Arizona. A 29-year-old woman was caught by Tuscan Sector agents attempting to smuggle a Mexican national, 21, while passing through the inspection lanes at the State Route 85 immigration checkpoint, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed in a news release.
The agents determined the passenger was being smuggled by the Colorado resident across the border after the pair were referred to the secondary inspection lane at about 11 p.m., according to the release.
The Kia sedan was seized by Border Patrol agents and the woman is being held in custody under human smuggling charges. The Mexican national, who is in the United States illegally, will be processed for violations of immigration laws.