TUCSON, Ariz.

Nine immigrants discovered in truck cargo area at border

Federal officials say the discovery of nine immigrants who were locked inside the cargo area of a rental truck at a Border Patrol checkpoint in southern Arizona highlights the dangers of human smuggling.

Customs and Border Protection says the incident Thursday at a checkpoint on Interstate 19 near Amado was a potentially deadly smuggling attempt because of summer heat and because there was no source or fresh air or means of escape.

“Transporting people inside the cargo area of a vehicle is extremely dangerous due to heat, the possibility of a vehicle accident, or other unforeseen circumstances,” the agency said in a statement.

The discovery came two days after agents in San Diego found two immigrants being smuggled in the trunk of a car through a border crossing. The two Mexican men, ages 28 and 20, were not breathing and were pronounced dead at a local hospital. Their suspected smuggler told authorities he had been paid $3,500 to bring the men to the U.S.

In Arizona, the seven men, one woman and a teenage boy had been loaded into the U-Haul in Nogales, which is about a 20-minute drive from the checkpoint where they were discovered. Agents said it was about 90 degrees outside.

AUSTIN, Texas

Perry files plea of not guilty to charges he abused power

Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry has formally pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of leveraging his power to try to oust a Democratic district attorney convicted of drunken driving, according to court documents obtained Wednesday.

The potential 2016 presidential candidate entered his plea in a Travis County court filing. He also waived an arraignment that had been set for Friday.

The waiver was no surprise given that Perry has signaled no intention of the felony charges interrupting a busy travel schedule to court Republican voters elsewhere. Perry was set to discuss immigration at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington on Thursday, followed by a two-day stop in New Hampshire.

Perry tweeted a picture of himself stopping for vanilla ice cream after his booking.

– From news service reports