Mexico denies allegations its consular authorities posed as Immigration and Naturalization Service agents, calling the accusation a “smokescreen” to cover up the negligence of U.S. authorities in allowing suspected immigrant smugglers to escape and causing the death of three illegal aliens, including a 19-month-old infant, reports the Spanish-language news agency EFE.

The FBI is investigating Border Patrol agents’ claims that Mexican officials impersonated INS agents to aid the escape of an immigrant smuggler on Jan. 9 in San Diego County, in an apparent breach of national sovereignty and security.

As WorldNetDaily reported last week, U.S. Border Patrol agents and California Highway Patrol officers chased a pickup truck loaded with Mexicans believed to have entered the U.S. illegally. After crossing spike strips laid down by police, the fleeing truck hit a freeway abutment on Interstate 8, about 40 miles east of San Diego, and crashed, killing two women.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported the two women were Mexican nationals Juana Hernandez Gamino, 59, of Jalisco state and Victoria Sanchez Garza, 17, of Guanajuato state.

EFE reports a third undocumented Mexican immigrant – a 19-month-old infant – also died in the crash.

When the driver of the pickup was taken by ambulance to the hospital, he was accompanied by an employee of the Mexican consulate, Ivan Castillo Rodriguez, who presented an INS badge. Castillo reportedly posed as an INS agent while he interviewed Sanchez during the ride and remained with him at Scripps Mercy Hospital in the Hillcrest community of San Diego.

Later that day, five other Mexican consulate employees, also reportedly presenting themselves as INS agents, showed up at Grossmont Hospital in nearby La Mesa, Calif., and demanded the release of two Mexicans being held and treated in connection with the crash. The two guides had led the illegal aliens across the border by foot into the U.S. where they met up with the truck.

The guides were turned over to the Mexican consulate employees, then disappeared.

“What we are dealing with here is an absolute violation of our sovereignty, when you have Mexican consular officials apparently posing as INS agents and in possession, allegedly, of INS badges, and obstructing a criminal investigation,” columnist Michelle Malkin, who specializes in immigration issues, told KOGO radio host Roger Hedgecock.

“We only suspected Mexico was running our immigration policy, but now we have it actually happening,” added Malkin, author of the recently published book, “Invasion, How America Lets Terrorists, Torturers, and Other Foreign Criminals Right Through the Front Door.”

But the Mexican Consulate in San Diego strongly denied its employees posed as INS agents or helped anyone to flee.

Spokesman Alberto Lozano told EFE that consulate personnel had simply gone to the hospital to help the 13 Mexican citizens injured in the accident that resulted from a high-speed pursuit by Border officers.

“We went to question the injured. It’s our job,” he told EFE.

Lozano said two consulate employees were carrying their INS-issued identification cards – badges issued by the U.S. government to enable Mexican authorities to enter INS and Border Patrol facilities on official business – because “they were in such a hurry that they forgot to take them off.”

“These cards also bear the inscription ‘Mexican Consulate,'” Lozano emphasized. “There is no way that this can be misconstrued.”

“We know nothing about the two people who got away. We never saw them. Those people left on their own feet. It is the fault of local authorities. There is no security at the hospitals. Local police chase these people to the death and afterwards, they put them in the hospital and forget about them,” Lozano said.

The spokesman also criticized the use of a barbed chain, by Border Patrol and CHP officers, to stop the van calling it a “weapon of mass destruction.”

“They used the barbed chain three times … even though the van was going more than 100 miles an hour,” the spokesman pointed out. “The van crashed and the people flew out. No one should have been killed, but three died.”

Border Patrol spokeswoman Gloria Chavez defended the use of the chain. She told EFE it was only used after the van driver tried to run over an officer attempting to stop him.

The driver, Carlos Moreno, was charged with murder, assault with a deadly weapon, child-endangerment and intimidating witnesses.

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