A Tucson man was caught with two people crammed into his trunk earlier this week near Willcox, U.S. Border Patrol officials said.
The driver of the vehicle was stopped on mile marker 291 on state Route 82 Tuesday at about 8 p.m., a press release shows.
The Border Patrol agent who pulled the driver over was then assisted by a K-9 officer who alerted to something in the trunk. Inside the trunk was a man and a woman from Mexico who had crossed over the border illegally, Border Patrol officials said.
The pair faces immigration violations, while the male driver, a U.S. citizen from Tucson, will be charged with felony federal human smuggling charges.
Both U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office have reported a spike in the apprehensions of smuggled individuals so far this year, as compared to 2018.
In fiscal year 2019 to date — October 2018 to July 2019 — Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector, which includes Cochise County, have arrested 58,591 undocumented individuals. That’s almost 6,500 more people than the 52,172 individuals nabbed in fiscal year 2018, said Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agent Jesus Vasavilbaso said recently.
A similar situation is being seen by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Mark Dannels said last month. This past July alone, the Sheriff’s Office arrested 200 undocumented individuals who were being smuggled across the border. That’s compared to just under 50 arrests in July 2018.