Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Here's why El Paso is so cool. It's not "Los Americanos que piensan en todo but los mexicanos." This photo and story ran in the El Paso Times today.
Cart below bridge moved migrants
By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 04/22/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT
A 5-by-5-foot trolley resembling those used by mechanics to slide under cars was put to a very different use over the weekend.
Border Patrol agents spotted it resting between two support beams in the underbelly of the Bridge of the Americas during a routine check Sunday afternoon.
It was being used like a rail cart to carry undocumented immigrants from the Mexican side of the bridge to the U.S. side, about 30 feet up in the air.
"It is very ingenious of them," supervisory Border Patrol Agent Victor Lujan said of the smugglers. "Since we're stopping them in other areas, they are trying something new. But we foiled their attempt. With extra manpower, we can send agents over there (the bridge) and look around."
The agents Sunday also found a man, lying on top of one of the beams over the eastbound lanes of the Border Highway, near the cart. They brought him down with the help of the El Paso Fire Department.
"They used the aerial ladder to bring him down," Lt. Mario Hernandez of the Fire Department said.
Rafael Ernesto Corvalan Herrera, a citizen of Chile, told the agents he had been on top of the beam 18 hours, since the cart's wheels broke, stranding him.
Fingerprint checks found he was a sex offender registered in Dade County, Fla., and that he had been deported from the United States. He is in the El Paso County Jail and will be prosecuted, officials said.
It wasn't the first time that the Border Patrol encountered such a makeshift trolley, but such finds are rare, agency officials said.
The one found Sunday was made of a metallic frame topped by wire mesh; underneath were rubber wheels, such as those on a toy wagon, mounted on axles. The contraption fit perfectly between two I-beams running 4 feet apart the length of the bridge, as if on a rail.
Agent Lujan said a migrant would lay on the trolley on his back, using his legs to push on the top ledge of the beam, causing the cart to roll along.
That's when problems started for Corvalan, who later told officials an old leg injury had rendered him incapacitated.
Corvalan, who said he paid smugglers just less than $400 for the cart ride, allegedly was part of a group of five migrants who started making it across the underside of the bridge Saturday evening when one of the cart's wheels broke.
Lujan said that, according to Corvalan, the smugglers brought four of the migrants back to the Mexican side on another cart and told Corvalan, unable to move, that they would come back and fix the cart's wheels for him.
He was still waiting when the agents found him.
Louie Gilot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6131
Being a bit of a philatelist myself and a journalism junky, Edward R. Murrow and Ruben Salazar are some of my heroes. I've got Murrow's stamp from 1994, and I'm thrilled about Salazar getting his own. I like the sepia color of Salazar's design, which is much better than the caca brown ink crap the US Post Office did with the 29 cent Murrow one. Check it.