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Border Patrol Rescues Eight Abandoned by Smuggler in the Desert

Release Date: 
July 22, 2013

TUCSON, ARIZ.—Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents rescued eight Mexican nationals late Thursday night after their smuggler abandoned them in the desert west of Tucson.

BORSTAR -- the Search, Trauma and Rescue unit of the Border Patrol -- responded to a 911 call on Thursday evening from an individual who said that he and his group had been abandoned by their smuggler and were lost in the desert. According to the caller, one member of the group had not been feeling well as a result of the heat and insufficient water and died just minutes prior to the 911 call.

BORSTAR immediately began searching and continued for four hours until a CBP fixed wing air asset spotted the stranded group. BORSTAR was then able to make contact on the ground and provide assistance.

The Tohono O'odham Police Department is leading the investigation into the cause of death. The remaining eight, all from Oaxaca, will be processed for removal.

To avoid detection by Border Patrol, smugglers often lead illegal aliens through the most treacherous and harsh terrain, exposing them to extreme conditions for which they are not prepared. Following their rescue, the overwhelming majority of migrants tell agents they were abandoned by their smuggler when they became fatigued and were unable to continue. Furthermore, carrying a cell phone can give a false sense of security because, in many remote areas along the border, cell signals are limited or nonexistent.

Customs and Border Protection welcomes assistance from the community. Citizens can report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol and remain anonymous by calling (877)872-7435 toll free.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017