TUCSON, Ariz. – Nine immigrants who entered the United States illegally were found locked inside the cargo area of a U-Haul truck at a Border Patrol checkpoint in southern Arizona, according to federal officials.
Border Patrol agents became suspicious of the driver and passenger during an immigration inspection Thursday at the Interstate 19 checkpoint near Amado.
Agents requested to inspect the truck's cargo area and the driver agreed but claimed not to have a key for the padlock, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The key was later found in the cab of the vehicle.
Agents discovered the eight adults and one juvenile locked in the cargo area without fresh air or means of escape. Officials said they were hidden behind mattresses.
The people in the truck were processed for prosecution and/or removal proceedings.
While no one was injured in this incident, a man died in a similar smuggling attempt last summer. During that incident, eight people were found in the back of a U-Haul box truck stopped at the Bowlins Travel Center along Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak on July 7, 2013.
"Transporting people inside the cargo area of a vehicle is extremely dangerous due to heat, the possibility of a vehicle accident, or other unforeseen circumstances," the agency said in a statement.
Sixth suspect arrested in U-Haul human smuggling case
Phoenix woman accused of murder in U-Haul human smuggling operation
New details on U-Haul human smuggling case