Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Border agents locate two bodies, rescue dozens (Arizona Daily Star)

Border agents locate two bodies, rescue dozens

By Brady McCombs
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 06.04.2008

The discovery of the remains of two illegal immigrants and the rescue of dozens of others —including a pregnant woman and three others in a remote mountainous area — highlighted activity the past four days along Arizona's stretch of U.S.-Mexican border.
Agents also made a trio or large marijuana seizures.

Border deaths
On Tuesday at about 7 a.m., a National Guard helicopter that was helping Border Patrol agents track a group of illegal immigrants spotted the body of a man southwest of Picacho Peak, said Rob Daniels, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman.

They estimated the man was about 40 years old. It appeared as though he had died several days earlier, he said.

On Saturday afternoon, agents found the skeletal remains of what they believe was a 38-year-old Mexican man northeast of Arivaca near the Sopori KX Ranch, Daniels said.

Mountain rescue
Border Patrol agents made five rescues of illegal immigrants in severe danger from Saturday through Tuesday.

The most dramatic and lengthy rescue started late Saturday and ended early Sunday in the Huachuca Mountains southwest of Sierra Vista in Cochise County.

It began at 10:15 p.m. when agents apprehended four illegal immigrants in a rugged mountain area near Carr Canyon and Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains south of the Fort Huachuca, Daniels said. Two of them — a Mexican man and a Guatemalan woman who was three months pregnant — were showing signs of heatstroke and severe dehydration, he said.

After the agent determined the two wouldn't be able to walk down from the mountainous area, they sent a Customs and Border Protection Black Hawk helicopter to the area. The helicopter, however, couldn't land.

They decided the two agents should stay with the four illegal immigrants and wait for the helicopter to return with supplies. At 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the helicopter dropped water, food, blankets and batteries for the agents' radios.

"The idea was to attempt to rehydrate and reacclimate themselves in hopes of them being in a better situation closer to morning time," Daniels said.

By 5 a.m., a pair of Borstar agents — the Border Patrol's search, rescue and trauma unit — arrived after hiking all night, Daniels said. They gave the illegal immigrants intravenous fluids. Then, they walked down to a road where agents could pick them up.

At 6:30 a.m., the agents and the four illegal immigrants were all off the mountain. No further treatment was necessary and the three illegal immigrants from Mexico were processed and granted voluntary returns to Mexico.

The pregnant woman was processed and set up for an expedited removal to get her back to Guatemala, Daniels said.

Other rescues
Agents made four other notable rescues; three on Saturday, and one on Monday.

At about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the agency received a call from a resident who reported a group of illegal immigrants sitting under a tree near a Arizona Department of Transportation weigh station on Arizona 80 northeast of Douglas, Daniels said. Agents arrived to find 10 illegal immigrants who said they had been left behind by a coyote, or guide, two days earlier.

All 10 were dehydrated and they told agents that three others had been left behind in other areas, he said. They found two others who, along with the people under the tree, were treated at the scene.

Agents also found a 48-year-old woman nearby who was semiconscious and had to be flown by helicopter to Tucson Medical Center.

Meanwhile, during these efforts, a 7-year-old boy who was among the 10 under the tree began to show signs of severe dehydration and heat exhaustion that prompted agents to call for an ambulance. He was treated at a hospital.

On Saturday evening near Sells on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, agents found a 23-year-old woman from Jalisco, Mexico, lying unconscious inside an RV they had stopped that had 23 illegal immigrants inside, Daniels. The woman was taken to a hospital.

On Saturday night near the town of Portal in Southeastern Arizona near the New Mexico line, agents rescued a 27-year-old Mexican woman who was found incoherent and complaining of dizziness.

On Monday at 6 p.m. in the Tres Bellotas area south of Arivaca, agents found a man from Chiapas, Mexico, unresponsive and severely dehydrated among a group of 13 illegal immigrants, Daniels said. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Drug seizures
The largest of the three seizures took place Saturday afternoon on the Tohono O'odham Reservation when agents discovered nearly a ton, of marijuana in a pair of vehicles near the village of Vamori, Daniels said.

Agents spotted a Chevrolet truck and a GMC Yukon driving in tandem near Vamori. Then, a Customs and Border Protection helicopter saw the Chevy truck with four people inside heading south from the village. When the driver noticed the helicopter, he and the occupants fled from the truck. Agents on the ground arrested one of them.

The found tracks leading to the GMC, which was reported stolen. They found 1,995 pounds of marijuana in the two vehicles.

Also Saturday on the northern part reservation, agents found 1,200 pounds of marijuana in a Chevrolet Avalanche that drove around a Border Patrol checkpoint on Federal Route 15, Daniels said.

The final seizure occurred Sunday in a Douglas house where marijuana was being stored, a press release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. Agents and Douglas police officers served a search warrant and found 1,229 pounds of marijuana in the house, the release said.

They also arrested Cindy Maria Sanchez-Armenta, a legal permanent resident, on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

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