EL PASO, Texas - The Mexican Consulate in El Paso is assisting 19 undocumented immigrants injured after the truck they were riding in rolled on State Highway 9 near Columbus, New Mexico Monday morning.
Border Patrol agents were responding to reports of illegal activity in the area when they encountered a Ford pick-up. When the agents ran the vehicle plates, they discovered the plates had been reported stolen.
At that point, the agents ordered the driver of the pick-up to stop, but the driver allegedly refused, made a u-turn and attempted to drive back to the U.S.-Mexico border. The chase ensued on a dirt road, resulting in the truck rolling over. Its driver and several occupants were thrown from the vehicle, CBP said. The driver and passengers, all undocumented, were taken to area hospitals.
ABC-7 has learned the Mexican Consulate was contacted by Border Patrol immediately after the crash. The Consulate told ABC-7 it is providing assistance to all 19 under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.
Deputy Consulate Ricardo Hernandez explained: "That means, first of all, that we have to perform an interview in order to make sure they are Mexican nationals, and after all, we look after their necessities."
Consulate assistance is only by request with the exception of juveniles, or the incompetent. Hernandez told ABC-7 the group included two juveniles. The Consulate said most of the undocumented immigrants injured in the wreck were taken to hospitals in El Paso and Deming.
All of the undocumented migrants have been released, except for two, who the Consulate said are not in critical condition, but remain under medical observation. As far as the alleged smuggler, Hernandez said the man "is a Mexican national. The only thing we can do is provide the consulate interview," Hernandez said, "We cannot stop any legal action against him because smugglers in Mexican and the Uniter States are smugglers. They are criminals and must be subject to the rule of law."
All 19 immigrants, including those in the hospital, are in the custody of Customs and Border Protection.