On January 8, 2023, at approximately 10:50 p.m., Border Patrol agents working approximately five miles north of the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, observed a white Nissan Sentra sedan, suspected of human smuggling, travel east on Strauss Road. Another agent working in the area observed the driver of the Nissan Sentra turn north onto Pete Domenici Highway. The agent followed the Nissan Sentra in an unmarked Border Patrol vehicle and notified sector communications, via his service radio, that he would initiate a vehicle stop on Pete Domenici Highway, near mile marker five. The Nissan Sentra slowed and rolled through the red light at the intersection of Airport Road and Pete Domenici Highway and continued north while accelerating. Reportedly, the agent came to a stop at the intersection, checked for cross traffic, then activated his lights and siren and attempted to perform a vehicle stop, but the driver of the Nissan Sentra failed to yield.
Approximately one mile north of the intersection, the driver of the Nissan Sentra lost control of the vehicle, spun across the highway median, and collided into a concrete barrier on the opposite side of the highway. The pursuing agent reported the Nissan Sentra had traveled far enough ahead of him that he did not observe the Nissan Sentra lose control. The agent requested emergency medical services respond to the scene. Additional agents arrived on scene and began life saving measures on the occupants of the vehicle.
A total of ten occupants were in the Nissan Sentra. Eight occupants, including the driver, were transported to local area hospitals and two occupants were declared deceased on scene. Three occupants were in the trunk and seven in the passenger compartment of the vehicle during the collision. One deceased occupant was ejected from the trunk and discovered in the roadway. The second deceased occupant was located in the rear passenger side seat. The deceased passengers were identified as a citizen of Mexico and a citizen of the Republic of El Salvador.
Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility special agents and Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office responded and processed the scene of the collision. The investigators determined the Nissan Sentra traveled from the northbound lanes of Pete Domenici Highway, through the median, and across the southbound lanes of the highway, leaving approximately 400 feet of tire marks before it collided with a concrete barrier.
This incident is under investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General was notified and responded to the scene.