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Fake UPS van busted at U.S. border

NILAND, Calif. (AP) — It was a special delivery indeed — 13 suspected illegal immigrants from Mexico stuffed in a phony UPS van.

The U.S. Border Patrol said Tuesday that agents stopped the van Friday as the driver tried to circumvent a highway checkpoint near Niland, about 150 miles east of San Diego in California’s Imperial Valley, near the Mexican border.

The van looked like a legitimate United Parcel Service Inc. delivery vehicle, except the company decal on the back door was slightly crooked.

The driver, U.S. citizen Daniel Lopez, was charged in federal court in El Centro with illegal transportation of aliens, authorities said.

Carlos Goens, the driver of another truck, was charged with the same crime after being detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint. He is suspected of coordinating with the UPS van.

Migrants told authorities they had agreed to pay between $5,000 and $8,000 each to be smuggled into the United States, according to the criminal complaint.

An agent reported seeing Goens leave a suspected stash house for illegal immigrants in the town of Brawley, leading authorities to the UPS vehicle. Another agent pulled over the UPS van at a mobile home park in Niland.

Attorneys for Goens and Lopez did not immediately respond to phone messages Wednesday.

Border Patrol agents recently began visiting Imperial Valley businesses and government agencies to warn about smugglers cloning their vehicles, said spokesman Adrian Corona. Telltale signs include misspellings on agency or company logos and crooked decals.

In recent years, smugglers have used fake vehicles of the California Highway Patrol and Imperial Irrigation District.

Last year, a white van filled with 13 illegal immigrants from Mexico dressed as clean-cut Marines were stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint near San Diego.

A Border Patrol agent who had served in the Marine Corps wasn’t fooled, especially when the driver didn’t know the Corps’ birthday.

Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chief
Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chiefhttp://www.mikodreamz.com
Vice-President & Asst. Editor-in-Chief of The Heat Magazine, Arlene is a Louisiana native, Certified Paralegal, Publicist, Owner of MIKODreamz PR, co-owner of 504Diffusion, writer, producer, and jack of all trades, who is heavily involved in her community as well as serving as Media Advisor for New Orleans Union for Entertainment (NOUE), Member of the NOLA Music Awards from 2012-present & Member of the Press Club of New Orleans. Her work is published across the web. Her PR work has been highly recognized & awarded. She was/is publicist for the late great BTY YoungN, 0017th and more. She is also working on her first novel & aspires to turn it into a film & is currently writing the authorized biography of the legendary Pimp C of UGK. She can be reached via email at Arlene@theheatmag.com. Follow her on Twitter - @CategorySeven & Instagram - @hurricanearlene.
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