An apparent immigrant smuggling attempt turned fatal north of Yuma Monday morning, killing nine suspected illegal immigrants and injuring 13 other illegal aliens who were all packed inside an SUV while fleeing from agents, reports the Yuma, Ariz., Sun. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said a Chevrolet Suburban holding as many as 22 suspected illegal immigrants rolled over around 6:30 a.m. on Martinez Lake Road after the vehicle swerved to avoid spike strips deployed by the agents to slow the Suburban.
U.S. Border Patrol agents spotted the vehicle traveling on a dirt road near the Arizona-California border. A border patrol spokeswoman said the route is commonly used by smugglers to avoid a checkpoint on U.S. Highway 95. Sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Leon Wilmot said the individuals were stacked like “cord wood” inside the vehicle. Rick Hays of Border Patrol’s Yuma sector said rollover accidents are common because smugglers often overload their vehicles and lose control while speeding. He said the smugglers “don’t have any compassion for these people.”