DOUGLAS, Ariz. - When agents with the U.S. Border Patrol tried to pull over a packed pickup truck on a dirt road in Arizona near the border with Mexico on Monday, the driver ditched the vehicle in a random driveway and took off running, authorities said.
The agents found 30 Mexican nationals, including children, crammed onto the Ford F-250 truck, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"All 30 were found to be illegally present in the United States and consequently expelled to Mexico via Title 42 authority," CBP said in a news release.
Agents didn't find the driver after an "exhaustive search" of the area around Douglas, a border city in Cochise County. Vehicle records showed that the truck had been reported stolen from the Phoenix area, the feds said.
"Now, during the pandemic, [smugglers] not only risk the lives of migrants, they risk all of our lives by shoving migrants into vehicles without social distancing, without facial masks, and without any regard for the exposure of COVID-19 to other migrants and public at large," Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal said in a statement. "They show no regard for the lives they exploit, our workforce or the communities our agents strive to protect in the midst of this public health crisis."