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Archive for Friday, February 2, 2007

Smuggling suspected in fatal Kansas crash

February 2, 2007

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— A minivan involved in a deadly crash on Interstate 70 may have been carrying illegal immigrants, immigration officials said Thursday.

The van was packed with 10 people and stripped of all but its front seat when it overturned Wednesday east of Abilene, killing one passenger, said Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Almost all the passengers had nothing to sit on and no safety devices," Rusnok said. "The bottom line is: This is characteristic of a smuggling van. The alien smugglers have no regard for human life. They try to maximize their profits by putting as many people as possible inside a vehicle."

The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the victim as Cesar A. Rodrigues, 32, of Guatemala.

The driver and his eight other passengers, all but one from Mexico, were injured but refused treatment, the patrol said.

The 1998 van had South Carolina plates. Geary County Sheriff's Department Undersheriff Carlos Roman said the victims told him they were traveling to the Kansas City area for work.

All the survivors were in the custody of immigration authorities Thursday.

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