Border Patrol agents arrested a Mexican national after 26 immigrants were found in the back of a locked tractor-trailer he was driving near the Salton Sea in Imperial County, authorities said.
All of the passengers, including two juveniles, also were arrested, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Authorities said the driver — identified only as a 32-year-old Mexican national — pulled up to the Highway 86 immigration checkpoint about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Though the man presented a California driver’s license, authorities said that they determined it was fake and that the man was “illegally present” in the country.
During an inspection, a Border Patrol dog called attention to the vehicle’s rear cargo area, where agents found 26 people inside.
“The undocumented immigrants were locked and trapped inside this ... trailer in below-45 degree weather with no safety restraints,” Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said in a statement. “This smuggling organization had no regard for the safety of the people they were smuggling.”
The passengers were between 16 and 56 years old, according to Border Patrol Agent Carlos Pitones.
“The driver will face criminal proceedings, and the smuggled immigrants will be processed in a case-by-case basis,” Pitones said in an email Friday.