FALFURRIAS, Texas — A man is accused of impersonating a first responder and trying to smuggle three people across a US border checkpoint.
Border Patrol agents spotted a white SUV Tuesday when their K-9 tipped them off that there was something suspicious about the vehicle, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
At first glance, it looked like any other emergency medical service vehicle driving down the road. Decals reading “rural area emergency response,” “call 911” and “fire-ems” decorated the vehicle that was strapped with emergency lights on the roof. On the door, an emblem read “Texas volunteer fire rescue.” But the vehicle was far from being used by first responders.
Border Patrol agents at the Falfurrias checkpoint — which is about 70 miles north of the Rio Grande Valley — signaled the vehicle to the secondary inspection area. But the driver sped out of the checkpoint and led officers on a pursuit.
He didn’t get very far when he stopped and the three passengers in the SUV jumped out and began running. The agents quickly apprehended the driver — a 30-year-old American citizen — and the passengers.
“The passengers were determined to be Brazilian nationals who were illegally present in the United States,” reads the statement from US Customs and Border Protection.
“This case is currently under investigation and will be referred for prosecution.”
This isn’t the first time smugglers have attempted to use fake vehicles to transport humans or drugs. In 2015, Border Patrol agents arrested a man using a cloned version of their own government issued Border Patrol Tahoe but inside officers found 12 undocumented immigrants crammed into the vehicle.