Smuggling shows dangerous trend in Andrade
Out of nowhere, a group of people run into a car that has been waiting for them for more than one hour.
They just entered the United States illegally through Andrade, Calif., and are a few feet from the vehicle they hope will be their ride into America.
But in the distance is a U.S. Border Patrol agent, who alerts the others.
"It's confirmed," the agent says. "Bodies are running into it now."
Moments later, an agent hiding in the shadows of a hill just north of the All American Canal bridge is told to deploy a set of spike strips and wait for word the vehicle carrying the illegal immigrants is heading north.
"We're coming up on the big curve," says the agent who has managed to fall in behind the load vehicle. We're at Pops."
Then, the load vehicle reaches the bridge and drives over the strips, which start to slowly bring the vehicle to halt.
"It's a good spike," the agent working the strips says.
With that, agents waiting in the shadows descend on the red older model Ford Bronco and pull a group of eight illegal immigrants out.
Smugglers have been trying their luck near Andrade from some time now by using vehicles to improve their odds of successfully moving their clients north.
Agents said it's a trend that not only is a great cause for concern but one that shows the disregard for life the smugglers operate with, especially in Andrade, where Interstate 8 is only a few miles away.
"That's why they target that area," said Joe Brigman, spokesman for the Yuma Sector of the Border Patrol. "They blend into the traffic and significantly increase the possibility of danger to the public."
Brigman said in addition to the high rates of speed the load vehicles often reach, the number of people the smugglers pile into the vehicles adds to the danger.
Smugglers routinely load as many as 25 illegal immigrants in vehicles meant to carry less than half of that.
Combine the large human cargo with the high rate of speed and lack of regard for life by the smugglers, and Brigman said agents have all the motivation they need to stop the vehicles as close to the border as possible.
"You've got a rolling time bomb that the the smugglers have created that has people as explosives," Brigman said. "Anytime we can make the apprehension at the initial point of entry, it makes it safer for everybody involved."
Louie Villalobos can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858.