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The State | IN BRIEF / PINE VALLEY

Smugglers on Part of I-8 Creating Traffic Hazard

September 20, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

An interstate in the pine-covered mountains east of San Diego is turning into a nightmare for motorists.

Many residents say they avoid the remote area after dark, fearing they may collide with immigrant-smugglers who increasingly avoid Border Patrol inspectors by driving the wrong way on the freeway.

The 30-mile stretch of Interstate 8, the main artery between San Diego and the desert of southeastern California, has been the site of crashes and hair-raising close encounters for years.

But local commuters and California Highway Patrol officers say the wrong-way drivers have become an almost nightly occurrence since the summer.

Smugglers seem to know that Border Patrol and CHP vehicles won't chase them as they speed westbound in the two eastbound lanes of I-8.

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