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Fake Nun Accused of Immigrant-Smuggling

May 21, 2003

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A woman who disguised herself as a nun faces immigrant-smuggling charges after U.S. inspectors found an adult woman hidden in a secret compartment of her vehicle.

Maribel Carreon Sanchez was detained Monday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

The 35-year-old Tijuana resident attempted to drive across the border wearing a black and white nun’s habit and presenting a visa issued to someone else, said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

Inspectors sent Carreon Sanchez to a secondary inspection site, where a search dog signaled on the dashboard of her Ford Windstar.

Agents found a Mexican woman hidden in a 3-foot-long customized compartment that was equipped with an electronically controlled latch and hydraulic lifts.

Carreon Sanchez was arrested and held for investigation of alien smuggling. The would-be migrant will remain in the United States as a material witness in the case, Mack said.

``This case should serve as a reminder that nothing is sacred to alien smugglers,″ said Diane Hinckley, assistant director for immigration policy with the bureau’s San Diego office.

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