CAMPO, Calif. -- A van full of suspected illegal immigrants attempted to cross the Mexico-U.S. border posing as U.S. Marines, Border Patrol officials said Tuesday.
Border Patrol officers stopped a white van with altered U.S. government license plates at the Campo checkpoint on Interstate 8 last Monday, officials confirmed. They found 13 Mexican citizens inside wearing desert Marine uniforms.
Three of the suspected illegal aliens are still in the U.S. being questioned. The rest have been sent back to Mexico, officials told Fox 5 News.
The van was following a Mitsubishi Eclipse, which acted as a scout vehicle. Agents caught up with the car, found fraudulent Marine items inside, and arrested the driver, according to documents filed in federal court in connection with the case.
Arturo Leyva, Jose Ceja, and Guadalupe Garcia, all American citizens, were arrested and accused of attempting to smuggle the group past agents at the Campo checkpoint, the documents said.
Federal agents said they noticed the military license plate on the white van had been altered, and followed it to the Campo checkpoint. The U.S. Marine Corps confirmed that the license plate was stolen from Marine Corps Air Station at Yuma, Ariz., several months ago.
Officials at the border then asked the people inside simple Marine-related questions, which they could not answer.
Leyva and Garcia gave statements to Border Patrol agents, admitting to smuggling people into the U.S., according to the court documents. They said the plan was to take them to Los Angeles. The suspects stated that they planned to say the group was being taken from Yuma, Ariz., to March Air Force Base in Riverside, Calif.,if the van was stopped by authorities.
The suspected illegal immigrants told authorities they paid up to $3,800 to be brought into the U.S., according to the charging documents.
Click to view image: 'Pic 1'
|Liveleak on Facebook|