A group of human smugglers allegedly placed a teenage migrant’s life in danger by engaging Border Patrol agents in a vehicle pursuit. The smugglers allegedly fled to avoid arrest for transporting a group of illegal immigrants in southern Arizona on Sunday morning.
Border Patrol agents attempted to stop a Dodge Dart and a Ford Excursion to conduct an immigration inspection. The agents suspected the drivers were smuggling illegal immigrants after witnessing what they believed to be suspicious activity near the border, according to Border Patrol officials. The incident occurred shortly before sunrise on Sunday.
When the agents activated their emergency lights in an attempt to stop the two vehicles, both drivers failed to stop, officials said. The driver of the Dodge Dart stopped a short time later but the Excursion continued to flee in the direction of Sells, Arizona.
Border Patrol agents deployed a tire deflation device and brought the pursuit to an end. However, the driver and four passengers attempted to flee into the desert. Agents quickly rounded up the five men and place them under arrest.
A roadside investigation revealed the driver to be a 20-year-old U.S. citizen, officials stated. Agents identified the four passengers Salvadoran nationals who illegally entered the U.S. The Salvadorans ranged in age from 16 to 40.
As other agents spoke with the driver of the Dart, they identified the driver as a 47-year old foreign national with Lawful Permanent Resident status, Border Patrol officials said. They identified his passenger as a 33-year-old female U.S. citizen. Both were taken into custody but charges have not yet been filed.
The driver of the Excursion faces human smuggling charges, Border Patrol officials stated.
It is not known if local prosecutors will file additional charges for allegedly putting the teen’s life at risk. Arizona law states that under “circumstances likely to produce death or serious physical injury,” the suspect could be charged with a class 2 felony under §13-3623. If convicted on the charge, a suspect could face between 3 and 12 years in state prison.
Officials turned the suspects and evidence over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations to determine what additional charges might be filed.