The deaths of nine people Monday in the crash of a sport utility vehicle fleeing the Border Patrol is evidence of the growing practice of smugglers packing as many people as they can into vehicles and driving recklessly to avoid capture, reports the New York Times. With federal agents flooding traditional smuggling routes and thousands of National Guard troops now helping out, smugglers have sought to get the most people over the border in the quickest of ways. That often means cramming people into vehicles, usually vans and S.U.V.'s, in which people have been found under seats and the dashboard and, in larger vehicles, hidden in the gas tank.
The Yuma County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday that the three men and six women killed were among 21 Mexicans “stacked like cordwood” in a Chevrolet Suburban whose driver lost control after crossing a spike strip laid down by Border Patrol agents. The driver sped as fast as 80 miles per hour and crashed shortly after driving over the spikes. Jennifer Allen, executive director of the Border Action Network in Tucson, an advocacy group, said escalating deaths and the spate of crashes showed that the crackdown on the border had deadly consequences that policy makers in Washington often ignored. Allen questioned the use of the spike strip. “The practices are lethal,” she said. “It should not be a death sentence to flee the Border Patrol.”