Suspected smugglers carrying loaded rifles arrested in Pine Valley

Two suspected illegal immigrants were hiding in an SUV’s cargo area, while three others were sitting in the rear seat of the vehicle, according to reports.

PINE VALLEY — Two men accused of carrying a loaded firearm stashed in their vehicle while allegedly attempting to smuggle five Mexican nationals into the United States were arrested early Wednesday morning at a Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 8 near Pine Valley, according to a California Border Patrol report.

According to the report, a 19-year-old male driver and an 18-year-old male passenger arrived at the checkpoint’s primary inspection area in a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV at about 2 a.m. During the initial inspection, an agent noticed two men laying down in the cargo area of the vehicle and referred the driver to secondary inspection.

During the secondary inspection, agents discovered three additional men sitting in the back seat of the SUV. Agents questioned the five additional passengers, all of whom admitted to being illegally in the U.S, according to the release. The driver and passenger, along with the foreign nationals, were arrested and taken to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing.

The release stated that after the arrest, agents conducted a search of the SUV and discovered an AR-15 assault rifle in the vehicle’s rear cargo area. The weapon was reportedly loaded with 19 rounds of ammunition.

The two suspected smugglers, both U.S. citizens, are currently in Federal custody facing human smuggling charges. The weapons and the vehicle were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol, according to the press release.