The Border Patrol says this SUV was part of Sunday’s smuggling operation. Photo via

Border Patrol agents arrested 19 people in East San Diego County after three SUVs were spotted smuggling dozens of people across the border, U.S. Border Patrol officials said Tuesday.

The vehicles were first spotted about 6:30 a.m. Sunday on Carrie’s Road in the Jacumba Wilderness Area, an off-road scenic route that originates at the U.S.-Mexico border in an area with no infrastructure or wall.

As agents approached the vehicles, the drivers quickly turned around and headed back toward the border, according to the Border Patrol.

One SUV became stuck and the driver jumped out and ran, while 17 people were found inside the disabled vehicle. Two others were found hiding in nearby brush, but agents did not find the driver.

The other two vehicles continued on toward the border, at which point 48 people jumped out and ran back into Mexico, Border Patrol officials said.

Of the 19 people arrested, a 44-year-old man among the group will be held on criminal charges for re-entry after removal, while others were expelled to Mexico, the Border Patrol said.

— City News Service

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