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43 Aliens Found Hiding on Truck

September 01, 1985

The Border Patrol early Saturday seized a 2 1/2-ton truck packed with 43 illegal aliens on a little-traveled road just north of the Mexican border in Otay Mesa.

The aliens, Mexican and Peruvian nationals, apparently paid $250 to $300 apiece to be smuggled into the United States and taken to the Riverside County community of Corona, said Ed Pyeatt, a Border Patrol spokesman in San Diego.

Patrolling officers who stopped the truck said it appeared to be filled with insulating material. But upon investigation they found a 4 3/4- by 12-foot concealed compartment that held the aliens, Pyeatt said.

"Stacked would be a good word," he said. "They were jammed into it, sitting, lying down. It was not tall enough to stand up in."

According to Pyeatt, the aliens probably were in the truck for only a short while before it was stopped. Had they remained confined for a longer period, the morning heat and the compartment's proximity to the truck's exhaust pipe could have posed a fatal danger, he added.

The driver of the truck, John Allen, 18, of Chula Vista, was arrested on suspicion of alien smuggling. All but five of the aliens, who were held as witnesses, were being returned to Mexico, Pyeatt said.

An investigation of the incident was continuing.

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