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VIDEO RELEASE: Arizona Air and Marine Operations/Border Patrol Provide Lifeline to Migrant in Distress

Release Date: 
October 27, 2021
Air and Marine agent conducting hoist operations in the Baboquivari Mountains.
conducting hoist operations in the Baboquivari Mountains. 

Tucson, Ariz. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) located and rescued a migrant in distress in a remote area of the Baboquivari Wilderness west of Tucson, Arizona.

Sunday morning, the Arizona Air Coordination Center (A2C2) was routed a 911 call originally received by the Pima County 911 system. A male migrant stated has was alone and throwing up, his bones ached, had shivers, and a loss of appetite. The man stated he had COVID-19 a month ago and is feeling the same body aches he felt at that time. During the call, officials determined he was stranded deep in the Baboquivari Mountain Range, more than 20 miles north of the border.  At approximately 8:30 a.m., an AMO Tucson Air Branch UH-60 Black Hawk aircrew launched to the area with a Border Patrol medic on board.

“Without hesitation, despite the risk from COVID-19, agents from both AMO and  USBP routinely place themselves at risk to help their fellow man,” said Director Michael Montgomery of the Tucson AMO Branch.  “The integration coordinated, and information gleaned by the A2C2 has led to more efficient search operations and better outcomes throughout the summer of 2021 in the Sonoran Desert.”

Upon arrival, the aircrew located the individual but could not find a suitable landing area nearby due to the steep terrain and thick vegetation. The aircrew inserted a single AMO Aviation Enforcement Agent Rescue Specialist (EMT) using the helicopter’s hoist at approximately 60 feet, to assess the man’s injuries. The man appeared to be suffering from dehydration. The individual and Rescue Specialist were extracted via the rescue hoist.  Once inside the aircraft, the AMO Rescue Specialist and the Border Patrol EMT conducted an assessment and the Border Patrol EMT started an IV of normal saline. By midmorning, the man had been transferred to a waiting BORSTAR team for further medical treatment. The man was transported to the closest available Border Patrol agents that could care for and transport the individual.

Border Patrol agent performs a medical assessment on a migrant rescued from the Baboquivari Mountains. ​
Border Patrol agent performs a medical assessment
on a migrant rescued from the Baboquivari Mountains. ​

“The collaboration between CBP components in Arizona is unmatched,” said Tucson Sector Acting Chief Sabri Dikman. “Integrated aircrews and hoist capable helicopters have saved numerous lives since their introduction in Arizona.

Tucson Sector covers most of the State of Arizona from the New Mexico State line to the Yuma County line. This area covers a total of 262 border miles and we are one of the busiest sectors in the country in both illegal alien apprehensions and marijuana seizures. We currently have approximately 3,700 agents working the nine stations in Tucson Sector.

The Tucson Air Branch is responsible for more than 365 miles of border with Mexico. The area of responsibility extends north to Nevada and Utah using the eastern and western state boundaries of Arizona as lateral limits. The state comprises more than 114,000 square miles of sparsely populated areas in the west desert and border areas where most aviation efforts are concentrated against narcotic and human smuggling.


Last modified: 
October 28, 2021