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54 immigrants, 2 suspected smugglers detained Tuesday

March 21, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — U.S. Border Patrol agents and the Brawley Police Department apprehended 54 suspected undocumented immigrants and two suspected immigrant smugglers Tuesday.

Three vehicles carrying the suspected immigrants were traveling through the west desert Tuesday morning around 7:30 a.m., said Manny Figueroa, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman.

Border Patrol agents stopped the first vehicle, a stolen sport-utility, near Drew Road and took 18 suspected undocumented immigrants into custody. The driver ran from the scene and was not apprehended, Figueroa said.

The second SUV — it was not known this morning if it was stolen — was stopped west of Drew Road near Interstate 8. Agents apprehended 16 undocumented immigrants and one suspected smuggler.

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A third SUV continued through El Centro and into Brawley on Highway 86, Figueroa said.

The vehicle failed to yield to Brawley police officers as a Border Patrol sector aircraft monitored the SUV's path through town, Figueroa said.

The SUV came to a stop in front of a residence on Duarte Avenue, Figueroa said. Brawley police apprehended 20 suspected undocumented immigrants and one suspected smuggler and took custody of the vehicle, Figueroa said.

The two suspected smugglers, whose names were not released this morning, will be prosecuted, Figueroa said.

Other than a driver who eluded Border Patrol agents during the first stop, Figueroa said he didn't know if other undocumented immigrants or smugglers got away from law enforcement officers.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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