Agents arrested 16 people during a human smuggling event involving six separate vehicles and a high-speed chase on Saturday, U.S. Border Patrol officials said Monday.
Remote camera operators observed a large group enter the U.S. through a compromise in the border wall at approximately 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 20. The group loaded into six vehicles just north of the secondary border wall and fled the area.
As agents arrived at the identified border location, all six drivers fled at high rates of speed, according to the Border Patrol.
One driver merged onto 905 freeway against the flow of traffic. Another smuggler, driving a white Toyota RAV-4, veered from lane to lane, nearly striking agents’ vehicles. This same driver eventually struck the center median and became immobilized in National City, Border Patrol officials said.
Several people ran from the vehicle and were pursued by agents. Nearby, other agents were able to stop a black Chevrolet Tahoe that was also involved in the smuggling event. In total, Agents arrested 16 individuals from the two vehicles. The group consisted of two U.S. citizens and 14 Mexican nationals.
All 16 individuals were transported to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing, according to officials.
Currently, four vehicles remain outstanding. Agents are actively looking for help in identifying a white Volkswagen Jetta, white Lexus IS250 or IS300, a black Mercedes sedan, and a red Kia sedan involved in this incident, the Border Patrol said.
The driver of the black Mercedes sedan is believed to be a wanted fugitive who was released from jail on bail and was actively being pursued by bail bondsmen after cutting off his ankle-monitor. The man was tracked to an Otay Mesa neighborhood by the bail bondsmen but was not found and is still on the run.
“These smugglers endangered the lives of these migrants, the traveling public, and our agents,” said San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke. “I would implore anyone with knowledge of this incident to come forward and help us bring these criminals to justice.”