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Agents Arrest Woman Driving Van with Man Hidden in Small Compartment

Release Date: 
May 16, 2014

PINE VALLEY, Calif. — Early Thursday morning, a woman was arrested for alien smuggling.  A male Mexican national was hidden inside a tight compartment under her vehicle’s floorboard.

Just after midnight, agents became suspicious of a woman in a 2002 Chevrolet Astro who was driving west on Interstate 8.  They stopped the vehicle near the Pine Valley checkpoint and questioned the 21-year-old U.S. citizen driver.  Agents asked and received permission to search her van.  A nearby K-9 team performed a sniff of the vehicle, which resulted in a positive alert.

Agents checked the undercarriage of the van and observed ventilation holes and some clothing.  Further investigation revealed a man squeezed inside a non-factory compartment that was located above the exhaust system of the vehicle.  Agents freed the man from the compartment and verified that he was not injured.  The man admitted he was a Mexican national who was illegally present in the U.S.Man stuffed inside small compartment

The Mexican national and woman were arrested and are being held in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody.  The female driver faces federal charges for alien smuggling.  The man is being held in DHS custody as a material witness.  The van was seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on corridors of egress away from our Nation’s borders.  To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.