Federal agents in California thwarted an attempt to smuggle 11 Chinese nationals hiding in a moving truck full of furniture crossing the border from Mexico over the weekend.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the smuggling plan was impeded Saturday evening when a 42-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a moving truck arrived at the San Ysidro, San Diego, border crossing from Mexico.
CBP officers took a more intensive secondary inspection for the moving truck and found 11 Chinese nationals packed inside pieces of furniture and appliances.
Photos showed at least two people squatting inside a washing machine and another crammed inside a wooden chest.
Pete Flores, CBP director of field operations for San Diego, said none of the migrants were seriously injured.
“CBP cannot stress enough the dangers of smuggling people,” Flores said. “These are human beings that smugglers subject to inhumane conditions that could have deadly consequences.”
The driver, accused of human smuggling, was taken into custody and transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center to await criminal proceedings, the agency said. The 11 Chinese nationals were also placed on an immigration hold pending a decision on their criminal and immigration case, CBP said.
The smuggling attempt comes exactly one month after CBP agents at the same port of entry discovered six Chinese nationals hiding behind a false wall inside another moving truck – also driven by a U.S. citizen – in an attempt to cross the border.
And in late October in the United Kingdom, 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated truck container that had traveled into England from Belgium.