- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

PHOENIX (AP) — Marisela Chavez-Ramirez’s journey from Mexico ended when U.S. border officials found her and her 3-year-old daughter curled up in the gas tank of a Dodge Caravan.

A smuggler had squeezed the pair into the tank, accessible through the floor of the van, to try to sneak them through the San Ysidro port of entry south of San Diego. They were discovered after an inspection revealed that a second tank had been added to carry fuel.

Adele Fasano, director of field operations for the San Diego district of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said there has been a spike in California in cases where smugglers place women and children in small compartments in vehicles to drive them across the border. Migrants also have been found inside washing machines and sewn into car seats.

Arizona-based agents also have found smugglers who disguised their vehicles to look like TV news trucks or U.S. Border Patrol vehicles. A fake FedEx truck also has been used to haul migrants.

Immigrants have tried attaching cow hoofs to their feet to disguise their footprints.

“The only problem with that is there aren’t too many two-legged cows,” said Doug Mosier, spokesman for the Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas.

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