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3 arrested after 7 migrants found in boat towed behind pickup truck

U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued seven migrants hidden inside compartments on a small boat being towed through an immigration checkpoint in Arizona. Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1 of 2 | U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued seven migrants hidden inside compartments on a small boat being towed through an immigration checkpoint in Arizona. Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued seven migrants hidden inside compartments on a small boat being towed through an immigration checkpoint in Arizona. The three U.S. citizens allegedly transporting them were arrested for human smuggling.

Agents at the State Route 82 checkpoint near Sonoita, Ariz., discovered the migrants around 3 a.m. Thursday during an immigration inspection of a Ford F-150 pickup that was towing the boat, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday.

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Inside a compartment at the stern of the boat, agents found five migrants. Then authorities discovered another two migrants inside a small compartment at the boat's bow.

"Our agents regularly rescue migrants from extremely dangerous human smuggling situations, such as being transported in compartments of vessels not intended to be used to transport people on roadways in frigid temperatures, and callous smugglers who show no regard for their well-being," Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin said in a statement.

The driver and passenger inside the pickup truck, who were both U.S. citizens from Arizona, were arrested for human smuggling, as well as a third man who was following the boat in a Jeep Commander.

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"Three U.S. citizen smugglers were arrested using a boat to conceal migrants," Modlin tweeted Wednesday. "Sonoita Station agents at the SR-82 checkpoint discovered seven Mexican citizens hiding in a towed boat when two vehicles approached inspection together."

None of the seven migrants from Mexico were injured. They included two women, four men and one juvenile who was traveling without a parent. All seven were transported to the Sonoita Station.

The pickup, the boat and the Jeep were seized and also transported to the Sonoita Station for processing.

The United Nations affiliated group International Organization for Migration calls the U.S.-Mexico border "the deadliest land crossing in the world."

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