McALLEN, Texas — A van stuffed with suspected illegal immigrants rolled and crashed after fleeing a traffic stop in a South Texas border city, leaving at least nine Mexican citizens dead and injuring six others, officials said Wednesday.
Immigration authorities have eight survivors of the crash in custody, according to Enrique Mendiola, acting assistant chief for the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector. He said no one has been charged and an investigation is ongoing.
Border Patrol agents stopped the van in Palmview, 10 miles west of McAllen, on Tuesday night. Some of the passengers immediately sprinted away, and agents pursued them on foot, catching one, Mendiola said.
But as the foot chase unfolded, the van sped off.
The agents came across the wreck three or four blocks away on U.S. 83. The van was demolished, but several people managed to flee the wreck, Palmview police Cmdr. Lenny Sanchez said. It wasn't clear how many people from the van remained on the loose.
The vehicle had been gutted to accommodate far more than the eight people it was designed to carry, he said.
Many of the dead came from the southern state of Oaxaca, one of the poorest regions of Mexico, according to Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington. Consular officials were interviewing survivors and gathering information on the dead to assist their families with repatriation of the bodies.