TULAROSA, N.M. (KRQE) – The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department talked Friday about what they saw yesterday when they found an illegal immigrant dying in the back of a U-Haul truck. Authorities throughout southeast New Mexico were on the lookout for a U-Haul they believed were smuggling illegal immigrants.

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Witnesses saw them get into the vehicle near Alamogordo. Tularosa police found it on Highway 54 between Tularosa and Carrizozo. When Lincoln County Sheriff arrived on the scene, Tularosa police officers were already performing CPR on a woman in her 20s.

Geraldine Martinez, undersheriff of Lincoln County, described the incident. “Well, she did not have any shoes on. It was reported that her shirt was wet it was also reported that she was panting at one point or another I’m not sure when the officers arrived to assist her and offer some help but prior to that that was reported what was going on.”

Police say the woman and six others were being smuggled illegally into the country in the back of the U-Haul. The driver was taken into custody and handed over to homeland security which is taking over the investigation. The other immigrants in the U-Haul were given medical assistance before being taken into custody.

They suspected the group of immigrants entered the U-Haul someplace outside the Alamogordo border patrol checkpoint. “Peace officers, EMS, EMTs, firefighters, emergency telecommunicators answer a call and first and foremost our objective is the preservation of life, and when one slips away from you from your very eyes you take that with you,” said Michael Wood, Sheriff of Lincoln County.

The Lincoln County Sheriff says if the Tularosa police chief had not spotted and pulled over the U-Haul, more immigrants could have died. Federal authorities say temperatures inside a U-Haul truck like this can easily reach 200 degrees.