Three U.S. Citizens Arrested in Large Failed Smuggling Event

Posted: Aug 08, 2020 8:15 PM

A large smuggling event attempted in California has led to the arrest of three U.S. citizens and 52 illegal aliens. The incident occurred early Friday morning when Border Patrol operators working the Remote Video Surveillance System noticed suspicious activity near the border wall. On Saturday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said the operational capacity of the U.S. Border Patrol improves exponentially with every new mile of border wall constructed. 

Responding agents noticed two vehicles, a stake bed truck and a van, both moving away from the border wall and towards a nearby highway. The agents immediately stopped the stake truck and advised other agents that the van was continuing eastbound on Highway 98. 

The driver of the stake truck, a 22-year-old man and U.S. citizen, admitted to having illegal aliens in the cargo area of the vehicle. When agents searched the vehicle, 37 illegal aliens – 36 adult Mexican nationals and one adult Guatemalan – were found under a tarp in the truck bed. 

When agents caught up to the van, they found 17 passengers inside the vehicle. The driver and the front-seat passengers were both U.S. citizens, but the 15 people in the back of the van were all Mexican nationals illegally present in the U.S. 

Agents placed the three U.S. citizens and the 52 illegal aliens under arrest and transported them to the El Centro Station for processing. The two drivers are being presented for criminal prosecution for 8 USC 1324 Alien Smuggling, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Following improvements made to the existing border fence near San Diego, CBP experienced a noticeable uptick in maritime smuggling events. 

In July, CBP's Air and Marine Operations and the U.S. Coast Guard were able to track two pangas making their way to the U.S. from Mexican territorial waters. Agents arrested all 21 Mexican nationals who attempted to illegally enter the United States.

CBP warns that maritime smuggling is extremely dangerous for numerous reasons, and says, "smugglers will prioritize monetary gain over the wellbeing of their passengers."