An attempt to sneak into the country inside a large air conditioning unit failed Wednesday when border agents had to rescue one person who was unable to breathe.
More than a dozen people were found packed inside one of three commercial-sized air conditioning units in a semi-tractor trailer attempting to pass at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry south of San Diego.
Agents called for emergency medical crews just before 10 a.m. when they discovered one of the 19 people was having trouble breathing.
Officials initially reported the people were shrink-wrapped in plastic but later corrected the story to report that the undocumented immigrants were covered only by a tarp.
The person who was hyperventilating was transported to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said CBP officers rendered aid while waiting for crews to arrive.
The remaining 18 people -- including the driver of the tractor trailer -- were taken into custody by CBP agents.
Witness Martin Violante was at the Otay Port of Entry and saw the commotion, including the driver being arrested and led away by agents.
He said he was able to see the driver, but couldn't actually see the shrink-wrapped people who were found inside the vehicle. He said the suspect semi-tractor trailer was large and filled with air conditioning units.
Violante said he heard the 19 people found inside were hiding in the air conditioning units when agents busted the vehicle.
CBP officials say the detainees were allegedly trying to illegally enter the U.S. The incident remains under investigation.