A California crash that resulted in 13 deaths near the U.S.-Mexico border was found to be among the 44 people who sneaked into the United States through a 10-foot hole in southern California's border fence, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.

The CBP said in a statement that all were suspected of entering the U.S. illegally, adding that they are now investigating the "smuggling events," USA Today reported.

The agency said a surveillance video showed two cars leaving the place of the fence hole past 6 a.m. Tuesday. It noted that a Chevrolet Suburban, carrying 19 people, caught fire entering the country.

All passengers of the said vehicle escaped and were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents. The vehicle traveled 30 miles between Interstate 8 and State Route 115 before it caught fire for unknown reasons.

The other vehicle, which is a 1997 Ford Expedition with seats removed, was carrying 25 people. The SUV continued on, and a semi-truck slammed into it at the intersection of SR 115 and Norrish Road, according to Highway Patrol Division chief Omar Watson.

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California Crash Near U.S.-Mexico Border Involves Mexicans

The crash occurred around 10 miles north of the border. According to a Mexican government official, at least 10 of the 13 killed in the crash had been identified as Mexican citizens.

The CBP noted that its agents were not pursuing the vehicle before the accident.

Gregory Bovino, the Border Patrol's El Centro sector chief, said they are praying for the victims of the accident and their families during this difficult time. He noted that human smugglers had proven once again that they have little regard for human life.

Bovino added that those who are thinking of crossing the border illegally should pause and think of the risks, which often end with tragedies.

The Hole in Southern California's Border Fence 

The opening in the fence was about 30 miles east of the crash in the heart of California's Imperial Valley, according to an Associated Press report.

The illegal crossing happened near the Imperial Sand Dunes, which is considered to be a spot for illegal border crossings. It was an area where migrants often climb over an aging barrier and wait for drivers to pick them up, which allows them to elude the scrutiny of Border Patrol agents at checkpoints.

A Homeland Security Investigations spokeswoman said the agency had already started a human smuggling investigation. However, she declined to hand out more details about the probe, according to a Forbes report.

Illegal crossings in the area declined sharply in the mid-2000s, but the place has remained a draw for migrants. The area was also a priority for wall construction during the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, it is still unclear if the SUV ran the stop sign or had stopped before entering the highway. It is also unknown how fast both vehicles were going.

Frank Borris, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation, noted that a 1997 Ford Expedition could carry 2,000 pounds of its maximum payload, which would have exceeded if 25 people were inside.

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