Border Crossing Cards stolen in truck heist
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) – Thieves robbed a delivery truck at gunpoint and stole 6,000 visa cards that grant temporary entry to the United States, a spokesman for the U.S. Consulate said Thursday.
The robbery occurred Monday as the DHL delivery truck was heading to the Tijuana airport following a stop at the consulate, spokesman Clint Wright said. Two men armed with pistols hijacked the truck, kicking out the driver. The truck later was found abandoned.
The visas, also known as border crossing cards, were to be distributed to Mexican citizens at consular offices throughout Mexico, Wright said.
”One assumes that many, if not all, will end up on the black market,” he said.
Baja California state police are investigating the robbery.
About 6 million people have border crossing cards which allow the holder to go as far as 25 miles into the United States for up to 72 hours.
Mexicans, who often want the cards to make shopping trips or visit relatives, pay the equivalent of about $45 to apply for the visa.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service, which manufactures the visas for the State Department, began issuing the hard plastic cards in 1998. They were intended to be more difficult to counterfeit than the older cards.
Laser visas look like a driver’s license with the user’s photo, a unique number and an expiration date. But a person who looked like the legitimate card holder could get by an inspector at one of the busy border crossings into the United States.
The INS has alerted its inspectors to look out for the numbers and expiration dates on the stolen cards, said Sharon Gavin, a spokeswoman for the agency.
The people who were supposed to receive the stolen cards will be issued new ones after a ”minimal” delay, Wright said.
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