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Are they real Marines? Or Illegal Aliens?


Clad in U.S. Marine uniforms, the illegal immigrants were apprehended at the Campo Border Patrol Westbound I-8 checkpoint at 11 p.m. on March 14 near Pine Valley, Calif., according to a March 15 report by California's El Centro Border Intelligence Center.

Clad in U.S. Marine uniforms, the illegal immigrants were apprehended at the Campo Border Patrol Westbound I-8 checkpoint at 11 p.m. on March 14 near Pine Valley, Calif., according to a March 15 report by California’s El Centro Border Intelligence Center.

Officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection are investigating a report that 13 illegal immigrants who were disguised as U.S. Marines were apprehended in a fake military van last week.

Clad in U.S. Marine uniforms, the illegal immigrants were apprehended at the Campo Border Patrol Westbound I-8 checkpoint at 11 p.m. on March 14 near Pine Valley, Calif., according to information received by California’s El Centro Border Intelligence Center.

After the suspicious white van was subjected to secondary inspection, it was determined that the driver of the vehicle and its front seat passenger were U.S. citizens who were attempting to smuggle 13 illegal immigrants into the United States. All of the vehicle’s occupants wore U.S. Marine uniforms, reportedly emblazoned with the name "Perez."

The van used in the smuggling attempt, according to the report, was a privately owned vehicle registered out of Yucca Valley, Calif., and was bearing stolen government plates that had been defaced. The center digit — 0 — was altered to read as an 8. Further research through multiple government agencies determined that the plate belonged to a one-ton cargo van registered to the U.S. Marine Corps.

"Agents are reminded to remain vigilant for new smuggling trends," the report concludes.

CBP spokesman Michael Friel told FoxNews.com that the agency was investigating the report. A call seeking comment from Department of Defense officials was not immediately returned.

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Steven Pitts, a spokesman for CBP’s San Diego sector, confirmed to Homeland Security Today "that [the apprehensions] did occur" and that the 11 undocumented aliens had been processed for deportation.

A total of three U.S. citizens were processed on "alien smuggling charges," Pitts told the website. The original report, however, cited two U.S. citizens.

Pitts told the website that the San Diego Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Southwest Field Office has taken the lead in investigating the incident. An investigation is ongoing, Pitts said, adding that federal charges related to the allegedly stolen vehicle could be added later.

After stopping the van, CBP agents determined that none of the van’s occupants possessed military identification cards and each U.S. Marine uniform bore the name "Perez," Homeland Security Today reports.

The van entered into the United States via Mexicali, Mexico, and proceeded to Calexico, Calif., where the U.S. Marine uniforms were donned, according to Homeland Security Today.

The Campo Border Station was constructed in June 2008 and is located roughly 28 miles east of San Diego Sector Headquarters in rural East San Diego County. It is responsible for securing approximately 13.1 linear miles of the U.S.-Mexico border and 417 square miles of surrounding territory. An estimated 7,000 vehicles pass through its two checkpoints daily, according to its website.

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