Two people died and five others sustained non-life-threatening injuries after U.S. Border Patrol agents chased a minivan following a report of a “suspected smuggling incident,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement on Sunday.
According to CBP, El Paso sector agents attempted to pull over the grey minivan with emergency lights and sirens on Saturday, but it didn’t stop. According to the statement, agents then “deployed a controlled tire deflation device” 11 miles after the vehicle was first spotted. The vehicle then swerved to avoid the device and rolled over. Two people were ejected from the minivan and later pronounced dead. Their identities have been withheld pending notification to family.
The statement said agents provided emergency care and contacted EMS, the New Mexico State Police, Border Patrol emergency medical technicians, and a U.S. Coast Guard medical team. EMS transported five of the 11 people in the vehicle to a nearby hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. CBP identified the driver as a 27-year-old male U.S. citizen.
The deaths follow an investigation from the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica that found in the last four years, Border Patrol chasing vehicles suspected of transporting people into the country illegally have resulted in 250 people injures and 22 deaths. The report also found Border Patrol conducted more than 500 car chases. Of these, one in three chases—or every nine days on average—ended in a crash.
However, even these figures are on the low side—the publications gathered this information from more than 9,000 federal criminal complaints filed against suspected human smugglers. (CBP wouldn’t provide these figures themselves). Because of that, it doesn’t include figures for cases in which the driver got away, or in which the driver died, since these complaints are only filed after an arrest is made.