Human Smuggling Investigation Launched After 13 Killed in Fatal Crash Near Mexican Border | Inside Edition

Human Smuggling Investigation Launched After 13 Killed in Fatal Crash Near Mexican Border

An SUV and a semi-truck full of gravel are seen after an accident near Holtville, California on March 2, 2021.
Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

A deadly car crash near the California-Mexican border has sparked a human smuggling investigation after authorities discovered one of the vans involved in the collision had 25 people cramped inside, according to officials.

A deadly car crash near the California-Mexican border has sparked a human smuggling investigation after authorities discovered one of the vans involved in the collision had 25 people inside, according to officials.

The fatal crash happened around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday just outside of Holtville, about 11 miles north of the border, California Highway Patrol told NBC News. A gravel truck and a sport utility vehicle collided, killing 13 people and injuring a dozen others. 

"Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations San Diego responded to the scene of today's fatal crash in El Centro, California, and have initiated a human smuggling investigation. The investigation is ongoing and no further details are available at this time," a spokesperson for the federal agency told CBS News.

"The investigation is ongoing and no further details are available at this time,” the official said.

A Border Patrol officer observed a breach at the border wall near the scene of the collision and is investigating if it is related to Tuesday's car crash.

Ten of the deceased were from Mexico and the Mexican Consulate is working to identifying all individuals, the outlet reported. The nationalities of three others have not been identified yet.

The semi-truck driver was identified as Joe Beltran, 68, who suffered from major injuries and is being treated at a local hospital. The driver of the SUV died and was later identified as a 28-year-old from Mexicali.

The injured passengers were men and women between the ages of 15 to 53, Omar Watson, a border division chief with the highway patrol, told NBC. The deceased were between 20 and 55.

The SUV was reportedly built to only carry about eight people safely. Inside the car, there were only two seats: the driver's seat and the passenger seat, Watson told the outlet.

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