Thirty illegal entrants were found in a vehicle that had been made up to look like a U.S. Border Patrol transport van, authorities said.
The van had horizontal green stripes along the sides, Border Patrol emblems on its doors and the words “Border Patrol” written across the rear. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Casa Grande station came in contact with the van while responding to activity in the area.
After seeing the agents, the driver turned the van around and tried to return to Mexico.
Authorities said the male driver abandoned the van about 100 yards from the border and sprinted into Mexico, leaving behind the 30 illegal immigrants.
All 30 were taken to the law-enforcement center on the reservation and processed for illegally entering the United States.
Reports of an elephant crossing the river or people trying to smuggle an elephant across were rampant Tuesday while an elaborate political stunt was taking shape near the mouth of the Rio Grande.
It was a while later that the stunt, which was a photo shoot, was abruptly met by federal agents.
“The elephant never made landfall into Mexico, but I tell you something, he could have made 15 laps back and forth, but no one showed up,” said Raj Peter Bhakta, a former star on the NBC show “The Apprentice,” who also is a Republican candidate for the 13th District U.S. House of Representatives seat in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Three elephants, two African and an Asian, were taken out to a ranch near Boca Chica beach to perform, the 31-year-old Bhakta said.
He was in Brownsville to raise funds with friends and decided to get a first-hand look at border security while he was here, he said.
In Brownsville, he witnessed half a dozen men swim under one of the international bridges “with complete immunity” which in turn prompted him to take the immigration issue to the next level.
Bhakta decided to see if he could get an elephant accompanied by a six-piece mariachi band across the river.
According to his Web site, he is in favor of “sensible immigration reform” and supports a border fence, local law enforcement assistance with immigration laws and the use of the National Guard troops to help the U.S. Border Patrol.
“To my surprise, the band played on, the elephants splashed away, and nobody showed up,” Bhakta said of the stunt. “I’m astounded.”