At least 13 people were killed and many others were injured in a major tragic crash at the U.S.-Mexico border in California on Tuesday (March 2). U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched an investigation into human smuggling activities. The photo shows the scene of the crash.
Federal investigators confirmed Wednesday (March 3) that two SUVs carrying up to 41 people illegally entered the U.S. state of California from Mexico on Tuesday. As a result, one of the vehicles was involved in a major crash that killed at least 13 people, while the other caught fire inexplicably.
Both SUVs entered the United States illegally through a 10-foot gap in the U.S.-Mexico border fence.
Fox News, citing officials, reported that one of the eight-passenger SUVs, which was carrying 25 illegal immigrants, was involved in a fatal crash at the intersection of Interstate 115 and Norrish Road in Holtville shortly after entering the country. Twelve people in the car died at the scene, and another died at a hospital shortly afterward. The Mexican government said 10 of the dead were Mexican citizens and the nationality of three others was not known.
According to the Los Angeles Times, another SUV was found on fire about 10 minutes after entering U.S. territory, and 19 people in it were found hiding in nearby bushes. The cause of the fire is unknown at this Time.
The Border Patrol said in a press release that all of the people in both SUVs were suspected of entering the U.S. illegally. Investigators added that at the time of the crash, neither SUV was being tracked by Border Patrol agents.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources previously told Fox News that a hole had been cut in the border fence near Calexico, Calif. The source added that the two vehicles that entered through the hole had somehow evaded the nearby mobile camera system.
Border patrol agents discovered the hole in the fence at 6:05 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Low Times. After reviewing surveillance video of the area, they realized the SUVs had entered the United States. Just over an hour later, at 7:11 a.m., Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene of the crash in Holtsville and saw a Ford Expedition with 25 people on board collide with a large truck.
A CBP spokesman told The Low Times that the gap in the metal border fence appeared near the Gordon’s Well exit near Interstate 8.
It is unclear how long the gap has existed and whether more vehicles or pedestrians have entered through the hole.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched a “human smuggling investigation” into the fatal crash, according to the Low Times.
The incident occurred at the height of the harvest season in California’s Imperial Valley agricultural region, according to the Associated Press. The area supplies lettuce, onions, broccoli and more to supermarkets across the United States.
The AP added that the area where the crash occurred has been known for “illegal border crossings” since the 1990s. At the time, the U.S. stepped up enforcement in San Diego, and as a result, illegal immigrants found an alternative way to enter the U.S.
Gregory Bovino, head of the El Centro Sector Border Patrol, said these incidents show the indifference of human smugglers to their victims.
“Time and time again, human smugglers have proven their disregard for the lives of others.” Bovino told the Associated Press, “Those who may be considering crossing the border illegally should stop and think about the dangers that often end in tragedy. Unfortunately, our border patrol agents and first responders are all too familiar with these tragedies.”