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  4. Tucson Air Branch aircrews lift migrants in distress

Tucson Air Branch aircrews lift migrants in distress

Release Date
Tue, 06/18/2024
Tucson, Ariz.
For More Information
PAS Rob Daniels

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) UH-60 aircrews rescued 5 migrants trapped in rugged terrain in the Peloncillo Mountain range over the weekend.

Friday afternoon, a Tucson Air Branch Black Hawk aircrew responded to an air support request Douglas Station Horse Patrol Agents for a group of migrants who were experiencing heat exhaustion. The aircrew was joined by three members of Tucson Sector’s Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) Unit; one of which was a Paramedic. The first patient was unresponsive and seizing. After inserting two AMO Rescue Specialists to clear a landing zone, the migrant was loaded onto the aircraft and flown to an awaiting air ambulance. A second migrant suffering from heat exhaustion and delirious was then lifted to an awaiting Douglas Fire crew who also responded. The third migrant was unable to walk, necessitating the individual to be raised into the aircraft via hoist along with an AMO Rescue Specialist. The patient was also flown to awaiting Douglas Fire Department personnel for transport by ground ambulance.

An AMO aircrew rescue specialist is hoisted into the aircraft with an injured migrant

Sunday evening, an air support request resulted in a Tucson Air Branch aircrew crew being dispatched to the Peloncillo Mountain Range near the Arizona/New Mexico border. After finding an acceptable landing zone in the harsh/steep mountainous terrain, the first patient was loaded along with a member of the Douglas Horse Patrol Unit. The patient was airlifted to an awaiting air ambulance. The aircrew returned to retrieve the second individual who was taken to a waiting ground ambulance for transport to the same hospital in Sierra Vista. The horse Patrol Unit member was flown back to the rest of his team, to walk the remaining seven migrants in the group to awaiting transportation to the station for processing.

“Our aircrews are trained and capable of rapidly shifting from operational missions to humanitarian roles,” stated Jessie Scruggs, Director of Air and Marine Operations, Tucson Air Branch. “These two incidents represent what our aircrews are called to assist agents on the ground who encounter the growing number of migrants who become distressed by the unrelentless conditions they are placed in by callous smugglers.”

Transnational criminal organizations continue to recklessly endanger the lives of individuals they smuggle across difficult terrain and hot temperatures for their own financial gain. Smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a rise in the number of rescues CBP has performed.

CBP’s message for anyone who is thinking of entering the United States illegally along the Southern border is simple: don’t do it. When migrants cross the border illegally, they put their lives in peril.

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 2023, AMO enforcement actions resulted in 1,004 arrests and 89,909 apprehensions of undocumented individuals, as well as the seizure or disruption of 256,883 pounds of cocaine, 2,049 pounds of fentanyl, 4,050 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,200 weapons, and $15.3 million.

Last Modified: Jun 24, 2024