A fake Border Patrol SUV with 12 undocumented immigrants crammed inside was stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border at Laredo, Texas, the New York Daily News is reporting.
Border Patrol agents on duty in Laredo, Texas, last week noticed the suspicious Chevy Tahoe, which bore Border Patrol colors and insignia, and took a closer look. They found 12 illegal immigrants crammed into the back of the vehicle, according to a statement posted on the agency’s website and released to the media.
“To a casual observer, the cloned vehicle appeared to be a law enforcement vehicle conducting official business, but to the observant Border Patrol agent something was not quite right.”
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) December 13, 2015
How did the real Border Patrol know that the familiar-looking vehicle in their midst was fake? Border Patrol agent Omar Zamora, with the Border Patrol RGV sector, explained to KRGV that the fake vehicle wasn’t modified the way real Border Patrol vehicles are.
“There’s no fender, there’s no ground effect on any of our vehicles. They’re actually pretty bare and about as high as we get the vehicle, because we do go off road.”
Another problem: You can’t just slap random numbers onto a fake Border Patrol vehicle and hope to pass them off as a serial number. The numbers on real Border Patrol vehicles mean something, and agents know what those numbers mean.
“Any Border Patrol agent that’s been in for quite some time knows whether that number is correct or not.”
It’s not just fake border patrol trucks that are used to smuggle illegal immigrants – and other contraband – across the border. Zamora said he’s seen a host of fake vehicles in his nearly two decades on the job.
“In the 18 years that I’ve been in the Border Patrol, we’ve seen UPS, FedEX trucks, Time Warner trucks, any kinds of clones. Any business you can think of. The smugglers are trying to clone it to avoid law enforcement detection.”
Fake vehicles, Border Patrol or otherwise, are just one of many mounting challenges to agents trying to keep the U.S.-Mexico border secure. Besides smuggling illegal immigrants – “human trafficking” as it’s referred to in law enforcement – smugglers are coming up with increasingly inventive ways to smuggle drugs across the border as well, according to Mario Martinez, chief of the Laredo Sector Border Patrol.
“As we continue to monitor security along the border and in adjacent communities, smugglers have resorted to desperate measures to conduct their illicit business.”
Some of those desperate measures include underground tunnels underneath the U.S.-Mexico border. The sophisticated tunnels, equipped with lights, tracks for moving wheeled carts, and support beams to keep them from collapsing, pop up faster than Border Patrol can seal them.
— Guns.com (@Guns_com) October 28, 2015
When underground tunnels fail, smugglers have even resorted to using Scuba gear. According to this Inquisitr report, a Honduran drug smuggler was caught, soaking wet and wearing Scuba gear, at the exit point of a canal in Calexico, California.
And where underwater tunnels have failed, smugglers have employed ultralight aircraft – low-flying, relatively quiet, cheap, sport airplanes that literally fly under the radar – to drop fly drugs across the border and drop off for couriers on the U.S. side. One such plane missed its target and accidentally dropped a 24-pound bundle of marijuana through an Arizona family’s garage, according to this Inquisitr report.
Border Patrol agents say that this is the first time, at least in anyone’s memory, that human smugglers have used a fake Border Patrol vehicle.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]