A 30-year-old U.S. citizen tried to use a fake EMS vehicle to smuggle three Brazilian nationals across the southern border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement.
CBP did not reveal the name of the U.S. citizen.
“They are humans, not Cargo!” reads the statement from CBP.
The incident occurred early Tuesday morning, when a marked Emergency Medical Services Vehicle entered the Falfurrias Checkpoint at the Texas border. During an initial inspection, a K9 unit alerted Border Patrol agents to the fake EMS Vehicle and it was signaled to the secondary inspection area, prompting the EMS vehicle driver to quickly flee the checkpoint. Agents pursued the vehicle until it came to a sudden halt. The driver and the three illegal immigrant passengers exited the vehicle and were swiftly apprehended by agents.
This is the slogan for a Border Patrol awareness campaign called “Operation Big Rig,” which is an initiative to decrease illegal immigrant crossings in the Rio Grande Valley, KRGV reports.
To the casual eye, the fake EMS vehicle was convincing in its imitation. The vehicle is labeled with decals reading “Call 911” and “fire-ems” and “rural area emergency response.” The vehicle was also emblazoned with the symbol of the Texas volunteer fire rescue and contained emergency lights on the roof. While the vehicle was realistic in appearance, it was not the same style as real EMS vehicles currently in use in the region.
Chief of Laredo Sector Border Patrol Mario Martinez warned in 2015 about smugglers using “desperate measures” when referring to a similar trafficking operation using a fake Border Patrol vehicle to smuggle 12 individuals.