As stated by the officials, one of the mentioned SUVs, had 25 illegal immigrants squeezed inside, who shortly became involved in a deadly accident at State Highway 115 and Norrish Road in Holtville. 12 people were killed at the scene as a result, and one more victim died a little while later. According to the government of Mexico, ten of the deceased were Mexican citizens, however, the nationalities of three remaining victims were not immediately identified.
The press reported that one more SUV was found in flames about 10 minutes after entering the United States. 19 people were found hiding the nearby brush. It wasThe cause of fire remains unclear.
Customs and Border Protection sources claim that a hole was cut in the border fence near Calexico, Calif. Both vehicles that drove through the hole somehow managed to evade a mobile camera system set up in the area.
Gregory Bovino, the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector chief, commented to the reporters that those incidents are the outrageous examples of the disregard with which human smugglers treat their victims:
"Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life. Those who may be contemplating crossing the border illegally should pause to think of the dangers that all too often end in tragedy -- tragedies our Border Patrol agents and first responders are unfortunately very familiar with."
The breach in the barrier was discovered by Border Patrol agents at 6:05 a.m. on Tuesday, soon they found out that the SUVs had entered the country after reviewing surveillance video from the area. In about one hour, at 7:11 a.m., Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene in Holtsville, where the vehicle, a Ford expedition, carrying 25 people had collided with a big rig.
According to the report of the Border Patrol, all passengers and drivers of both SUVs were suspected to have entered the United States illegally. The investigator of the cases added that neither SUV was being pursued by Border Patrol personnel at the time of the accidents.
As a Customs and Border Protection spokesman told to the press, the opening in the metal border fence appeared near the Gordon’s Well exit near Interstate 8. For how long it was there, and and whether more vehicles or pedestrians had entered the country through that break was not immediately clear. As well as it was not clear if the damage to the barrier was repaired right after Tuesday’s discovery. For now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started an investigation of human smuggling regarding with the fatal crash.
Notably, the incidents took place during the climax of the harvest season in California’s Imperial Valley agricultural are. This region is famous for its supplies of lettuce, onions, broccoli and more to supermarkets around the United States.
The region, where the crashes happened started becoming known for illegal crossings in the 1990s, when heightened U.S. enforcement in San Diego pushed migrants to more distant areas.