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Three U.S. citizens arrested, 52 in custody after smuggling attempts stopped

el centro cbp Migrant Truck.jpg
Posted at 4:53 PM, Aug 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 19:55:52-04

EL CENTRO, Calif. (KGTV) — Three U.S. citizens were arrested and 52 people were taken into custody in two smuggling attempts in the El Centro area early Friday.

The first incident occurred just after 5 a.m., according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A remote video surveillance system reported a stake bed truck and van suspected of smuggling near the border wall west of Mount Signal Road. Agents responded and stopped the truck as it traveled toward Highway 98, but the van continued on, CBP said.

The driver of the truck, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen, admitted he was transporting individuals illegally in the rear cargo area of the truck. The truck was carrying 37 people, 36 adult Mexican nationals and one adult Guatemalan national, who were hiding under a black tarp in the truck bed, CBP said.

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Soon afterward, the van that agents spotted earlier and followed was stopped. The driver and passenger, both U.S. citizens, were placed under arrest and 15 people, all adult Mexican nationals, were found in the back of the van, CBP said.

The three U.S. citizens were charged with alien smuggling. The 52 individuals were placed in federal custody pending processing.