SAN DIEGO — Two men were found dead in the trunk of an orange Dodge Challenger as the driver attempted to cross into the U.S. from Mexico through California’s San Ysidro port of entry Tuesday afternoon.
Both men found dead in the car’s trunk were reported to be Mexican nationals in their 20s, suspected to be attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. They were found when the driver of the vehicle, Nicholas Zakov, was asked to pull in for secondary inspection. Scanners detected an anomaly in the vehicle and upon further inspection the unconscious men were found in the trunk. They were determined to be dead after being transported to the hospital according to a report by Fox 5 San Diego.
Border Patrol union spokesman Gabe Pacheco told Breitbart News that “often Mexican cartel members will go down to airports and bus stops in Tijuana to recruit individuals who have recently arrived and who are looking to cross the border illegally. The cartel members will also prey on individuals who are down and out on their luck and/or are looking to make some quick money. The cartel members will use intimidation and extortion to control these individuals.” The individuals will be offered a sum of money in exchange for their actions bringing the smuggled persons into the U.S.
Zakov told authorities he was offered $3,500 to smuggle the two men, according to the Union-Tribune: report also stated, “Zakov told authorities he was driving the men to a Denny’s in Chula Vista, and was to receive payment once he got them into the United States.”
Pacheco told Breitbart News that cartels would charge individuals $7-10,000 to be smuggled through the border or port of entry and/or to have false documents provided to them. The cartels tell those involved that the trip will be short, much like what smugglers tell illegal aliens attempting to navigate around U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints like the one in Falfurrias, Texas or north San Diego county.
In speaking with Breitbart, Pacheco also concluded that there was “no way CBP could have prevented this.” Though it is a sad event, Pacheco said individuals attempting to cross illegally are taking a risk and have been found a number of times close to death while packed tightly in vehicles. He said that CBP officers “at the port of entry have a big job to do,” and that K-9 units are particularly helpful in inspecting the cars and detecting people or contraband being smuggled through.
Wait times at this particular port of entry can be as much as three hours, and the heat can reach approximately 120 degrees inside confined spaces, according to independent studies Pacheco cited. He compared the situation to leaving a child or pet locked in a hot car on a summer day.
San Ysidro is the busiest land port of entry in the Western Hemisphere, according to U.S. General Services Administration.
Zakov, a U.S. citizen, was charged Wednesday with the federal offense of “violating immigration law, specifically failing to present the two men to immigration authorities” according to the U-T. Zakov pled not guilty to the charges.
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Photo credit Josh Denmark/CBP.gov