24 Dec 2016
East County, CA

Border Patrol agents in southern California recovered 17 illegal aliens and arrested two others after the human smugglers crashed their pickup truck.

Agents working in East County, California, were alerted to the presence of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck near the Mexican border. As the agents responded to the area, they observed the truck entering Interstate 8. A short pursuit ended as the driver crashed the pickup truck into a drainage ditch, according to information provided to Breitbart Texas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials on Friday.

The incident, which occurred at about 5:30 on Thursday evening, could have been very dangerous as the bed of the pickup truck was packed with illegal aliens. The human cargo was packed in the bed of the truck under a large sheet of plywood, officials stated. None of the passengers were injured.

Photo of “human contraband” via U.S. Border Patrol

In addition to those packed like sardines in the bed of the pickup, other’s being smuggled were stashed in the cabin of the truck. The driver and one of the passengers were identified as being involved in the smuggling operation and were arrested. All 19 people in the truck were identified as Mexican nationals. Ages and genders were not listed in the CBP statement.

A records check at the Border Patrol station revealed that the driver was a previously deported felon. The 31-year-old Mexican national was deported after serving a 70-month federal prison sentence after he attempted to run over a Border Patrol agent during a 2008 human smuggling attempt. He was arrested and faces new charges of human smuggling and illegal re-entry after being formally removed as a convicted felon.

His alleged co-conspirator in this human smuggling attempt, a 29-year-old Mexican national, was also arrested and faces possible federal charges for human smuggling.

The pickup truck was seized by federal officials. The 17 Mexican nationals who were being smuggled will be processed for removal.

Border Patrol officials stated they believe this smuggling incident is connected to Tomas Lara-Sanchez. He is believed to head up a transnational criminal organization that allegedly conducts smuggling operations primarily in East County, officials stated.

CBP reported that the Tomas Lara-Sanchez criminal organization is believed to have been involved in a triple-smuggling event reported by Breitbart Texas earlier this week. The officials referred to the shipment of “human contraband” as a “triple incursion” across the Mexican border near Boulevard, California.

The Boulevard Station agents used a “vehicle immobilization device” to stop the lead vehicle. The driver of the white Toyota Sequoia stopped, but the other two vehicles fled from the scene. After a short pursuit where the other two drivers attempted to return to Mexico, Border Patrol agents were able to safely stop the fleeing vehicles.

The agents seized the three vehicles. The agents also apprehended a total of 25 people from the three vehicles. Five additional people successfully evaded the agents and absconded back to Mexico. The drivers could face possible prosecution on charges related to human smuggling.

Lara-Sanchez’ face now appears on wanted posters in the area under a CBP most wanted suspected smugglers program called “Se Busca Información.” The program utilizes flyers and billboards that display the faces of some of the most notorious suspected human smugglers in the various Border Patrol sectors where the program has been implemented.