U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers Tuesday found a family trapped in a small convertible compartment at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
While inspecting the vehicle around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, officers found two people hidden inside a convertible compartment.
Officers tried to open the compartment, but say the vehicle's electronic opener was disabled. Authorities then tried to remove the hinges, but were unable to due to safety concerns for the family inside.
Eventually, officers called the San Diego Fire and Rescue Department. Crews were able to bring the 10-year-old girl and her 30-year-old mother to safety.
"This smuggling attempt could have had a tragic end and I am pleased with the swift response of the officers at the port that recognized the dangers and called San Diego Fire and Rescue to aide in freeing the trapped family," said Rosa Hernandez, port director of the Otay Mesa port of entry.
The driver of the vehicle, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen was arrested and booked into an area correctional center.
The mother and daughter, who CBP says are both citizens of Mexico, have been placed on an immigration hold and will be removed from the U.S.