August 7, 2006

Nine suspected illegal immigrants die in crash

PHOENIX, Arizona (Reuters) - A sport utility vehicle packed
with nearly two dozen suspected illegal immigrants overturned
in southern Arizona on Monday, killing nine people, the U.S.
Border Patrol said.

Agent Veronica Lozano said the dead were among 22
passengers crammed into a Chevrolet Suburban that flipped over
on a desert road near Yuma, Arizona, a few miles (km) north of
the Mexican border.

"The vehicle was attempting to avoid a Border Patrol
checkpoint by driving along a dirt road, and the driver lost
control," Lozano said.

Lozano said five people were pronounced dead at the scene,
and four died later at a hospital in Yuma, 190 miles southwest
of Phoenix.

The Border Patrol was not immediately able to confirm the
nationalities of the victims. Lozano said police think the
vehicle was filled with illegal immigrants brought from Mexico
by smugglers.

Car accidents involving illegal immigrants are increasingly
common in Arizona, as smugglers, dubbed "coyotes," try to avoid
or outrun Border Patrol agents sent in greater numbers to
secure the frontier with Mexico.

"This is another clear example of how the smugglers put
immigrants' lives at danger," Lozano said.