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Dog alerts border agents to unusual hiding spot in SUV at Otay Mesa crossing

August 28, 2009 |  7:49 pm

A Customs and Border Protection "detector" dog thought there was something suspicious in the back of the 1995 Nissan Pathfinder attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico through the Otay Mesa checkpoint.

While an officer was interviewing the driver, the dog "alerted" to the cargo area of the vehicle, officials said.

Officers removed a variety of window-washing materials from the floor of the cargo area, allowing them to see what looked like a recently installed panel.

Using a screwdriver, they removed the panel and found a 19-year-old curled up in a fetal position, dehydrated and dizzy, officials said. He was riding in a specially designed compartment beneath the vehicle, only inches from the road.

The driver, a 21-year-old U.S. citizen and resident of National City, was arrested on smuggling charges. The 19-year-old, a Mexican citizen, was taken to a hospital in the Thursday morning incident.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

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