El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents arrested an armed human smuggler after he allegedly attempted to circumvent an interior immigration checkpoint in Southern California. The agents also arrested a group of migrants with the smuggler.
Agents patrolling near the Highway 111 interior immigration checkpoint observed a Volvo SUV attempting to circumvent the checkpoint. The agents stopped the vehicle and began an immigration interview, according to information provided by El Centro Sector Border Patrol officials.
The agents identified the driver as a 37-year-old U.S. citizen. During an interview with the front seat passenger, the agents learned the man was a foreign national who had no documentation to be in the United States legally.
During a search of the vehicle, the agents found two people lying in the back seat who were hiding to avoid detection. The agents found three more hiding in the rear cargo area of the Volvo SUV, officials stated. Agents identified all five as illegal immigrants.
Officials arrested all six of the migrants and identified them as Mexican nationals. The group included five adult males and one juvenile female. Officials did not disclose if any of the adult males were related to the juvenile female.
As the search continued, the agents found a loaded 9mm pistol. The pistol had three rounds loaded in the magazine.
A records check on the vehicle revealed the license plates did not match the Volvo SUV. Agents ran the VIN through a database and found the SUV had been reported stolen on April 17.
“Our agents are placed in dangerous situations day in and day out. None more than stopping an armed man smuggling six illegal aliens in a stolen vehicle,” El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino said in a written statement. “Fortunately, on this occasion, our agents were able to make the arrest without incident.”
The agents transported the six Mexican illegal immigrants to the checkpoint for processing. Under Coronavirus protection protocols, the migrants will be screened medically and have a criminal background investigation run. Once cleared, it is likely that all six will be returned to Mexico.
The agents arrested the driver who is being held pending investigation for human smuggling. They also seized the pistol and the SUV.