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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico downtown port of entry stopped a human-smuggling attempt Friday afternoon after discovering a male Mexican citizen concealed inside the dashboard of a small sedan.

The incident occurred shortly before 6:30 p.m., on April 12, when a 57-year-old man entered the downtown port driving a 2012 Nissan March.  A CBP officer noticed inconsistencies with the driver’s travel itinerary and referred him to the vehicle inspection lot for further examination.

While conducting an intensive inspection of the sedan, officers used the port’s imaging system and discovered what they suspected to be a human body in the vehicle’s dashboard.  The officers immediately responded to the vehicle and continued searching the area, ultimately discovering an adult man laying horizontally inside the inner frame behind the dashboard.

Officers extracted the man, a 21-year-old Mexican citizen, from the dashboard and escorted him to a secure location for further processing and a medical check.  The man had no medical conditions that required further attention.  Officers confirmed that the man had no legal ability to enter the United States and took him into custody.

“As afternoon temperatures continue to rise in the Imperial Valley, this incident underscores the disregard smugglers have for the safety and wellbeing of the people they exploit,” said Area Port Director David Salazar. “Human smuggling is extremely dangerous and I commend our officers not only for their diligence, but for safely bringing this event to a successful law enforcement conclusion.”

The driver, a Mexican citizen and lawful permanent resident of the U.S., was arrested and later transported to the Imperial County Jail to await criminal arraignment on federal human smuggling charges.

CBP officers placed an immigration hold on both men to initiate removal from the United States at the conclusion of their criminal proceedings.


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