EL PASO, Texas — U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations crews operating in the southwest region rescued 244 people between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. The six-state region includes Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. These areas are known for inhospitable mountain and desert terrain as well as extreme temperatures which often lead to high-risk rescue situations as migrants attempt to make the hazardous journey across the U.S./Mexico border.
AMO crews must rapidly transition from their law enforcement mission to first responder roles when emergency circumstances exist in order to locate, extract, evaluate, and deliver distressed individuals to safety or further medical care. An example of AMO agents dynamically shifting from patrol operations into search and rescue missions occurred in early June in Laredo, Texas.
On June 4, a Laredo Air Branch AS350 helicopter crew flew four air missions while working with Cotulla, Laredo North, and Laredo South Border Patrol Stations to locate suspected migrants in the Laredo area. The aircrew landed several times while on patrol to respond to individuals in distress who suffered from complications as a result of extreme temperatures and high humidity.
A crew member was also an Air and Marine Emergency Medical Services qualified agent, trained to conduct medical evaluation and first aid. The AMO EMT rendered aid and transferred four migrants to emergency medical services and Border Patrol EMT teams for further evaluation and treatment. The aircrew then transitioned back into the law enforcement mission and facilitated the apprehension of 132 migrants by Border Patrol partners between the distress calls. Many similar cases have been documented as well.
- 911 call leads three migrants to be rescued in the Jacumba Mountains
- Air and Marine Operations ASTAR finds pair of migrants abandoned in the West Desert
- VIDEO: Air and Marine Operations aircraft rescue in Sabino Canyon
- VIDEO RELEASE: Air and Marine Operations aircraft locate and rescue a lost migrant in the Baboquivari Mountains
AMO’s Southwest Region spans more than 2,000 miles of linear border and is responsible for conducting federal aviation, maritime, and land law enforcement operations within Nevada, Oklahoma, and the four southwest border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. AMO’s SWR includes the coastal waters off Southern California and Texas. The U.S.—Mexico contiguous border provides a nexus point where three transnational threats converge: drug trafficking, inadmissible alien smuggling, and terrorism.
AMO safeguards our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.
In Fiscal Year 2021, AMO enforcement actions resulted in 1,119 arrests and 122,035 apprehensions of undocumented individuals as well as the seizure or disruption of 324,772 pounds of cocaine, 779,725 pounds of marijuana, 18,548 pounds of methamphetamine, 900 weapons and $73.3 million.