Authorities caught smugglers trying to move 17 undocumented migrants across the border by using a fake U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) truck last weekend in California, officials said.
Mexican officials in Ladrillera, a city near Tijuana, noticed something wrong with a CBP Ford F-150 pickup truck trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border into California.
The truck had decal stickers replicating those used in official CBP trucks and had fake Department of Homeland Security license plates, pictures of the vehicle show.
Inside the truck, border authorities found 17 undocumented migrants, which were transferred to police headquarters in Tijuana. The truck was seized by U.S. authorities.
The migrants had been tricked into getting into the truck after being told that the operation was 100% successful, said David Perez Tejada, a delegate from Mexico’s National Migration Institute.
“Hop on, we already have an agreement. This is a US Border Patrol vehicle. With this, they won’t ask you anything before you cross the border,” Tejada said the migrants were likely told.
Smugglers have used similar schemes in the past to move migrants across the border. In June, Border Patrol Agents in El Paso stopped at least two fake FedEx vans that were used to smuggle migrants.
Agents received a credible tip about a smuggling scheme using FedEx vans and were stopping several vans with the purple and orange logo. After stopping several “suspicious” vehicles, border authorities identified three vans that were being used for smuggling. Between the three vans, there were 26 undocumented migrants from Mexico and Guatemala.
“This tactic has been used before by smugglers, the transnational criminal organizations come up with different ways to try to defeat the Border Patrol’s intelligence,” Border Patrol Agent Sean Coffey told CBS4 about the scheme.