Migrant smuggling attempt results in death

Contributed Photo/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Contributed Article/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

ARIVACA – One man died and several were injured on May 30, after an SUV carrying several undocumented migrants rolled.

On May 30, at approximately 4 p.m., Border Patrol agents assigned to the Tucson Border Patrol Station observed a silver Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV traveling eastbound on Arivaca Road near mile marker 17, toward a Border Patrol checkpoint located near mile marker 22. The agents, who were traveling westbound in an unmarked vehicle, suspected the SUV might have been transporting undocumented migrants.

The agents turned around and entered the eastbound lane to catch up to the SUV. As the agents traveled east near mile marker 20, they observed the SUV traveling west on Arivaca road at a high rate of speed. The agents turned around a second time, entered the westbound lanes, and attempted again to catch up to the SUV.

A short time after the agents entered the westbound lanes, they saw a cloud of dust in the distance and continued west on Arivaca Road. Near mile marker 18 they discovered the SUV in a ditch on fire. The agents observed one person fleeing from the accident, immediately requested emergency medical services, and removed a total of eight occupants from the vehicle.

The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department, multiple local fire departments, American Medical Response, Elephant Head EMS, Life Flight Air EMS, and a CBP Air and Marine Operations helicopter with Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue agents on board all responded to the scene. Life Flight Air EMS transported two individuals to Banner University Medical Center Tucson and ground ambulances transported five individuals to the hospital. The CBP helicopter transported a male citizen of Honduras to the hospital.  Upon arrival at the hospital, he was intubated and diagnosed with an inoperable brain bleed and was placed under a CBP hospital watch. He succumbed to his injuries and was declared deceased on June 2.

ICE and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility interviewed seven of the occupants of the SUV. The occupants of the vehicle estimated that the vehicle rolled approximately four times, and also stated that they did not see any vehicles with lights and sirens activated.

ICE is investigating the migrant smuggling case and the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office is investigating the accident. The incident is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General was notified of the incident.