July 5 (UPI) -- In five separate incidents, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol arrested nine U.S. citizens it says smuggled 64 undocumented immigrants across the Mexican border over the past week, the agency announced Thursday.
Three incidents occurred on June 30, with the first involving an American woman arrested at an immigration checkpoint for smuggling 10 people across the border. Officials said two more American women were arrested later when CBP found seven undocumented immigrants in the back of their trailer, and two men were held after agents found 21 immigrants hidden in their box truck.
The agency said two more arrests occurred on July 1. In the first, two men were detained after 14 people were found hidden in the sleeper compartment of their truck. After that, two people driving an 18-wheeler were arrested for smuggling 12 found locked in the trailer compartment.
All of the accused smugglers were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for prosecution.
"These rescues are a result of stepped-up enforcement at our immigration checkpoints coupled with our search and rescue efforts that are key to preventing unnecessary loss of life," CBP Acting Chief Carla L. Provost said in a statement.
According to CBP data, 286,290 people have been caught crossing the border illegally this fiscal year, which began in October 2017. That number is significantly lower from the same point a year ago, when 328,450 were captured.
In June, the number of apprehensions (42,565) was down 18 percent from the previous month. Last month's total, though, was nearly twice that of June 2017, which saw 21,657 apprehensions.