A United States Border Patrol agent says three vehicles in two weeks have “busted” through the Otay Mesa port of entry near San Diego from Mexico and that two of the three weren’t caught.
The agent, who patrols in southern California and requested anonymity, said the port runners, as they are called, break into the U.S. by driving northbound in southbound lanes of port-of-entry traffic, which poses a danger to other vehicles heading to Mexico.
Also, he says, agents risk their careers – as well as their lives – if they pursue the port runners because of management-imposed policies that tend to limit high-speed chases. Also, agents suffer abysmal public relations and possible bureau repercussions if illegal immigrants crash vehicles while being chased and injure or kill their charges.
The port of entry at San Ysidro. WorldNetDaily photo.
The agent said the first port runner was driving a brown van and busted through two weeks ago – the day before the U.S. launched its attack on Iraq. Then, on Monday, the agent said two more vehicles – a Chevy Suburban and a Ford F-250 pickup with a camper shell – blew through the port. The agent added that no one has any idea who – or what – was in the two vehicles that got away.
One port runner – the driver of the Suburban – was apprehended by USBP agents driving an undercover vehicle who were stationed near the port in the southbound lane, said the agent.
“Those agents stayed with the vehicles. One broke off the freeway and they lost it,” he said. “However, we did manage to catch the Chevy. Those agents risked it all – their jobs and their lives.”
The agent said 22 illegal aliens were found in the Chevy. He also said the driver was apprehended, but he did not provide details about the driver.
Overhead of Otay Mesa truck inspection port. U.S. Customs photo.
“We need someone to speak out from management about why we haven’t changed our pursuit policy even after ‘Code Orange’ and why we don’t have spikes built into the freeway systems to prevent this,” the agent said, referring to the current terrorism threat level set by the Department of Homeland Security. Code orange, or “high alert,” is the second-most serious level.
An international airport is located inside Mexico just a few short minutes from the Otay Mesa port of entry. The agent hinted that terrorists could use it to get close to the U.S. border.
“How easy would it be for some people who want to do us harm to get into the U.S. via that form of smuggling?” he said, noting that it took 19 port-busting incidents at San Ysidro – also near San Diego – before “we got some action” and tire spikes were built into the roads to flatten the tires of port runners.
Vincent Bond, a spokesman for U.S. Customs in San Diego, confirmed a series of port-running incidents that have occurred since late March, including the incidents reported by the agent. He said one of them got away, but two others were apprehended.
When asked about road spikes, he said inspectors had access to road spikes that could be placed in front of fleeing vehicles, but that there were none built into lanes at Otay Mesa. And regarding pursuits, Bond said immigration inspectors were not permitted to chase port runners.
“Our inspectors at the ports of entry … call local law enforcement, such as California Highway Patrol, or Border Patrol,” he said. “That’s our procedure.”
Customs generally operates the ports of entry.
Border Patrol offices did not return phone calls seeking comment, but USBP agents have pursued port runners – in conjunction with other law-enforcement agencies – in the past.
On March 1, the enforcement and investigation wings of the INS, U.S. Customs and U.S. Department of Agriculture were merged into the new Department of Homeland Security. Within DHS is the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.