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Joint Rescue Operation Saves Stranded Migrant

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Tucson, AZ.-Tucson Sector's Search Trauma and Rescue Team (BORSTAR) working alongside Air and Marine Operations and the Department of Public Safety, rescued a stranded migrant Tuesday night from a rugged ridgeline outside of Sells, Arizona.

Just before 8 p.m., the Three Points Border Patrol Station received a 911-distress call from a man saying he was lost and stranded. Relying on approximate GPS coordinates taken from the distress call, Tucson Air and Marine assets initiated a search pattern over an area in the Baboquivari Mountain Range.

A short time later, a helicopter crew spotted one individual lying motionless on the mountainside. Due to rough terrain, however, the pilot could not safely land to insert agents nearby. AMO officials then relayed updated coordinates to responding BORSTAR agents who immediately began a two-hour, nighttime trek to locate the subject.

Carrying packs loaded with medical equipment, agents scaled the ridge and located the subject, identified as a 42-year-old Mexican national, just after 12:30 a.m., breathing and responsive. Agents provided immediate medical care and called for assistance to extract the subject.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety dispatched a Ranger helicopter to the location and airlifted the man out. He was then transported to a local hospital where he remains in Border Patrol custody while receiving necessary medical care.

This rescue demonstrates how joint efforts by federal, state, local and tribal authorities can integrate resources to provide efficient, effective and rapid responses. The rescue also highlights the importance of improved 911 protocols implemented by the Tucson Sector in 2015.

Last Modified: February 3, 2021