U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Southern California found a Mexican national hidden inside a car seat — a tactic CBP described as “inhumane” — crossing into the United States on Monday night.
An 18-year-old woman driving a black Mitsubishi arrived at the Calexico West port of entry at approximately 1:10 a.m., according to a CPB media release.
The driver, a U.S. citizen, and her car were sent for further inspection by the booth officer.
When a CPB canine examined the car and alerted officers to the vehicle’s rear seat, they discovered a 48-year-old man hidden inside a non-factory compartment.
The man, a Mexican native, was taken for further processing and the woman was taken into custody and is being held at the Imperial County Jail.
“The primary focus of our national security mission is to protect the American homeland from all threats,” Pete Flores, CBP director of field operations for San Diego, said.
“Although we routinely encounter individuals attempting to enter our country illegally, this incident serves as another example of the inhumane tactics human smugglers will utilize in order to circumvent our laws,” Flores said.
This is not the first instance this year that federal agents have found people hiding inside vehicles crossing the border.
In February, Texas border agents arrested 36 illegal immigrants found beneath a wooden plank inside a dump truck in the South Texas corridor, Fox News reported.
The immigrants were hidden underneath a wooden plank inside the truck that appeared to be filled with gravel and dirt.
#USBP Laredo Sector responded to the scene of @mylaredopd case where people were hidden inside a dump trailer loaded with dirt with no means of escape. LPD requested assistance from USBP, @LaredoFireDept in the rescue of the individuals. #BorderSecurity pic.twitter.com/1Sqc1SEZeB
— CBP South Texas (@CBPSouthTexas) January 31, 2020
Customs and Border Protection agents also discovered 70 illegal immigrants inside a commercial tractor-trailer in December.
The truck’s driver was a U.S. citizen and was arrested for his part in the plot to enter the United States illegally.
The acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan, said he was disturbed by the “marked shirts” the migrants were wearing, which were thought to classify and identify the individuals, similar to the process of marking transported commodities and cargo.
“Obviously, the investigation is still ongoing to definitively determine what that letter meant on their T-shirts, but preliminary reports suggest that alien smuggling organization’s moniker representing that they had responsibility for those individuals,” Morgan said at the time.
In a Thursday news release, Customs and Border Protection reported it conducted 37,119 total enforcement actions last month, including 30,068 apprehensions and 7,051 inadmissibility decisions.
CBP said February’s number of apprehensions represented a 74 percent decrease from the peak of the border crisis in May 2019.
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