- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Eight suspected illegal immigrants, including a 16-year-old boy, were found inside a drainage pipe at the nation’s busiest border crossing late Saturday after a daylong search by authorities.

None of the six males and two females appeared to have suffered serious injury, said Vince Bond, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“They were dehydrated and hungry,” Bond said.

Investigators planned to interview the group and determine their nationalities.

Authorities began searching for the group after a motorist reported seeing about 12 people enter a storm drain in front of inspection booths at the San Ysidro port of entry that connects San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. However, surveillance cameras showed only eight went into the storm drain opening.

The opening is in American territory just south of San Ysidro’s 24 vehicle inspection booths, Bond said. To get in, they removed a grate in one of the middle lanes.

The opening connects to a 30-inch-wide drainage pipe that extends about 100 yards west under Interstate 5 to an open channel in San Diego, Bond said.

Searchers sent in a robot to look for the group, and at one point it spotted two people inside the pipe but they fled before authorities reached them.

About 40,000 vehicles enter the U.S. daily at the crossing.

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