IRVINE — Twenty-six illegal aliens crammed inside a van were captured Wednesday after two Secret Service agents stumbled upon the vehicle and notified the California Highway Patrol, authorities said.
"It was just a fluke," said Jim Miller, acting special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Los Angeles office. "Our agents were running a couple of (license) plates, and this one came back stolen."
Miller said his agents were on an unrelated assignment when they spotted the van. He did not elaborate.
CHP spokeswoman Linda Burrus said the incident began about 2 p.m., when the agents saw more than two dozen people getting into a white, 10-foot-long, 1987 Isuzu van in San Diego County.
The agents followed the van, which entered Interstate 5 going north, and ran the license plate check, Burrus said.
When they learned that the van had been stolen, the agents called the CHP in San Juan Capistrano, she said.
"Our officers then pulled the driver of the van over near Jamboree Road," Burrus said.
Once the van was stopped on the shoulder of the freeway, three occupants, including the driver, fled but were quickly captured.