San Diego, CA–U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry Wednesday discovered two women hidden in a specially built compartment in the trunk of a vehicle.
The compartment was screwed shut, with the two women unable to get out without help from the outside.
“It’s incredibly dangerous for people to be placed inside of a vehicle compartment they can’t get themselves out of,” said Sidney Aki, Director of Field Operations for Customs and Border Protection in San Diego. “These two women were lucky that their attempt to try and enter the U.S. illegally this way didn’t end in serious injury or worse.”
Authorities said a 66-year-old male U.S. citizen arrived around 5:30 p.m. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry driving a gray 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Customs and Border Protection officer conducting the inspection for entry into the U.S. noticed that the man looked nervous, and referred him aside for a more intensive inspection.
An officer with a human and narcotic detector dog then screened the vehicle, and the dog was alerted to the underside of the car’s trunk. Officers checked and found a non-factory compartment in the rear trunk area of the vehicle with someone hidden inside, but could not immediately open the compartment to get anyone out.
The officers removed the screws and covers for the compartment and helped the two individuals hidden inside out of the compartment. The two women, ages 25 and 37, were both Mexican citizens with no status or documents to be able to legally enter the U.S. They will be returned to Mexico, and the driver will face smuggling charges.