Immigrant found stranded under border bridge

April 22, 2008 4:56:36 AM PDT
A Chilean man was halfway to freedom when his alleged border-crossing attempt was derailed. The man, who was deported from the U.S. once before, was using a makeshift cart Sunday to shuttle himself along the support beams of an international bridge over the Rio Grande. But a wheel on the cart broke, stranding him on the span at least 20 feet above the ground, the Border Patrol said Monday.

Agents have been paying particular attention to the rafters of international bridges in El Paso since last year when a similarly crude system for smuggling drugs was discovered.

"You can't knock the ingenuity. It's there," Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said.

The man told agents that smugglers in Mexico had arranged to get a group of people across the river using the cart, Mosier said. It's unclear how many people may have used it previously.

Rafael Ernesto Corvalan Herrera, 33, was arrested Sunday afternoon and faces a federal felony charge of illegally entering the country after being deported. He is a registered sex offender in Florida.

Corvalan is being held without bond at the El Paso County jail, where records do not show if he has a lawyer.

According to law enforcement records in Florida, Corvalan was deported after February 2003 convictions for sexual battery using threats of force or violence, and false imprisonment.

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