Imperial, Calif. - On March 30, Customs and Border Protection U.S. Border Patrol agents from the El Centro Sector disrupted two separate incidents in which individuals attempted to utilize two commuter aircraft as a means to smuggle illegal aliens out of the Imperial Valley.
The first incident occurred at approximately 5:00 p.m., when Border Patrol agents conducting anti-smuggling operations near the Imperial County Airport arrested six Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States as they attempted to board a commuter aircraft. Agents also arrested one female and one male, both Mexican nationals, suspected of transporting the individuals to the airport. A male United States citizen was identified and arrested as the pilot of the aircraft being used in the smuggling event.
The second incident occurred at approximately 8:15 p.m., when Border Patrol agents encountered a second group of individuals boarding a different commuter aircraft. After a brief investigation by agents, it was determined that the pilot, a male United States citizen, was attempting to smuggle five Mexican nationals, also present in the country illegally.
In total, 12 illegal aliens and four suspected smugglers were arrested. As a result of these incidents three vehicles and two aircraft were seized for involvement in criminal activity. All four suspected smugglers are being held pending prosecution under alien smuggling charges.
A total of five aircraft have been seized by the El Centro Sector Border Patrol since fiscal year 2010.
The El Centro Sector Border Patrol encourages the public to report any suspicious or criminal activity to the Border Community Threat Hotline at (800) 901-2003.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.