CALEXICO, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico East port of entry thwarted a human-smuggling attempt on Friday after discovering a man concealed in a specially-built compartment in the gas tank of a Ford F-150 pickup.
Shortly after 7 a.m., a 41-year-old male Mexican citizen entered the East port driving a 1998 Ford F-150. During his inspection, a CBP officer noticed the driver appeared nervous and referred him aside for a more intensive inspection.
While inspecting the pickup, officers utilized the port’s imaging system and detected anomalies in the vehicle’s gas tank. The officers continued searching the gas tank and discovered a man concealed inside a hidden compartment.
The hidden compartment was built into the top half of the gas tank. The bottom half of the gas tank contained enough gasoline for the pickup’s operation.
Officers extracted the man, a 31-year-old Chinese citizen, from the compartment through an access panel in the bed of the pickup and escorted him to a secure location for further processing.
The driver, a resident of Mexicali, was arrested and will face federal charges related to the incident. He was later transported to the Imperial County Jail to await arraignment.
CBP placed an immigration hold on the undocumented man to initiate removal from the United States at the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.
Officers seized the vehicle.
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.