A man has been charged with trying to sneak a Brazilian man into the United States from Mexico by hiding him in the gasoline tank of an SUV.
Jonathan Pantoja allegedly brought the 38-year-old inside the modified tank of a 2001 Toyota Sequoia early Tuesday at a crossing in Calexico, California. Customs and Border Protection says an imaging device spotted anomalies in the SUV’s gas tank and back seats.
A criminal complaint says the driver — a 40-year-old U.S. citizen — told authorities that he smuggled to pay off a $5,000 debt. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The complaint says the Brazilian man told authorities he paid $5,800 to get to the border from Brazil and was to pay another $4,000 in Los Angeles.