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California

Two arrested after Border Patrol officer, Chinese man injured in smuggling attempt

ron vitiello cbp
Federal officials say two people tried to smuggle a Chinese man across the Mexican border in a van.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A Customs and Border Protection officer was recovering from his injuries after being thrown from a van being used in an attempt to smuggle a Chinese man through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry over the weekend.

Two people have been charged with human smuggling in the incident: driver Betty Mae Taulbee and passenger Markquiste Nathaniel Morgan, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in San Diego.

The duo pulled up to the port of entry about 5:10 p.m. Saturday, presenting IDs from Arizona and California, according to the complaint. Taulbee told the officer at the primary inspection booth they were headed to Chula Vista.

When the officer opened the sliding passenger side door for a cursory inspection, he saw a person hidden in a large blue bin behind the driver’s seat, the complaint states.

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The officer radioed for assistance and asked Taulbee to turn off the engine. Instead, Taulbee accelerated forward and made a hard left turn.

The officer was thrown from the van, and the person and bin also slid out onto the ground.

The van continued, making a right turn for the west exit but was stopped by traffic and a system of flashing lights and sirens alerting officials to a port runner.

The officer was admitted to a hospital. The Chinese man was treated at an emergency room and discharged.

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The man told authorities that he was going to pay $2,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. and intended to find work in New York.

Taulbee told authorities that she took the smuggling job for $1,000 and that she was supposed to take the man to Plaza Bonita mall, the complaint states.

Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

kristina.davis@sduniontribune.com


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