NOGALES, Ariz. – Three U.S. law enforcement agencies met in Nogales, Arizona on Tuesday to follow up on a program created to bring closure for Mexican families seeking to learn the fate of missing loved ones believed to have disappeared in southern Arizona.
Border Patrol agents with the Missing Migrant Program, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers from the Tucson Field Office, and the non-governmental group Border Action Network, met with Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies at the Mariposa Crossing in Nogales. Together, the organizations worked to facilitate MCSO the ability to collect DNA samples from relatives of persons suspected to have perished in the Sonoran Desert.
Tuesday’s venue allowed families unable to attend MCSO’s “Missing in Arizona” event, held in Phoenix this past October, an opportunity to provide a DNA sample. The cheek-swab DNA samples collected will be compared to existing samples in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) in hopes of identifying human remains.
The Border Patrol’s MMP agents work with multiple law enforcement agencies, third-party reporting entities, foreign consulates and non-governmental organizations to reunite missing loved ones and to provide closure for families of previously unidentified deceased persons.
The Border Patrol’s participation provides an additional database resource on missing people to compare with evidence collected in national and international databases. In Fiscal Year 2017, MMP received more than 1,500 requests to help find missing persons or to identify found remains.