Feds: Man tried to enter U.S. via chili shipment

Suspect was hoping to catch a ride to Chicago

COLUMBUS, N.M. (AP) -- Authorities say an immigrant suspected of entering the country illegally attempted to make his journey in an unusual but hot place - a shipment of red chili.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at a New Mexico border checkpoint said the man was discovered Thursday face down among a commercial load of the spicy stuff.

Columbus Port Director Robert Reza says next to the "highly intoxicated" 35-year-old was a bottle of tequila.

The man, who authorities described as a Mexican national, told agents that he climbed into the commercial hopper while it was being staged in Mexico. He got into the truck-full of chili in hopes of catching a ride to Chicago, the El Paso Times reported.

Agents said he got less than 100 yards into New Mexico before he was discovered. He will be returned to Mexico, officials said.

The red chili shipment was later released.

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