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Santa Ana man arrested in smuggling case

March 17, 2010 |  7:23 pm
A Santa Ana man was arrested by federal officers after allegedly squeezing two illegal immigrants into compartments in his car and trying to cross the U.S. border from Mexico, authorities said Wednesday.

Autmobile The man, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody Saturday at the Otay-Mesa Port of Entry east of San Diego and booked on smuggling charges, the Department of Homeland Security said. His name was not released.

The two immigrants, from Mexico, were hidden in the compartments between the front wheel and front doors of the black Mercedes-Benz, the Homeland Security Department said.

One immigrant, a 26-year-old woman, was unconscious when she was pulled out of the space.  She was revived by rescuers at the scene and was treated for a 4-inch burn on her leg.

A 39-year-old man was stuck in a fetal position in the other space and unable to move when he was found by federal officers. He was sweating profusely and needed help standing, the department said.

The immigrants were found by a detector dog. They were being held as material witnesses in the case.

--Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Compartment where one of the immigrants was allegedly smuggled. Credit: Department of Homeland Security.