TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Ajo Station encountered 325 Central Americans after the group illegally entered the country and surrendered to agents west of Lukeville Thursday morning.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations helicopter, investigating a possible campfire spotted by a surveillance camera, discovered the group amid freezing temperatures. The group illegally entered the country through an area where there is only a vehicle barrier designed to prevent crossings.
Group members indicated that buses and trucks dropped them off throughout the night on Mexico’s Federal Highway 2 that parallels the U.S. border less than 50 yards from this area. Once the entire group arrived, they crossed together at 8:00 a.m. to await authorities.
The group consisted of individuals and family units from Central America and included nearly 150 juveniles, 32 of whom were unaccompanied.
For the next several hours, agents patrolling other areas were reassigned to provide security, care, and transportation for the group. Using vans and trucks, agents transported the group more than 15 miles through rugged desert terrain to a staging location where buses could transport the group to the nearest Border Patrol facility for processing.
Trained Department of Homeland Security medical staff, to include a physician, responded to screen the group. Two juveniles, a 5-year-old with possible chicken pox, and a 12-year-old with a skin infection, were sent to a local hospital for treatment while the remaining persons began immigration processing.
Year-to-date, Tucson Sector has messaged news releases of three groups totaling more than 650 apprehensions in this remote and unsecured location.
Illicit transnational criminal organizations exploit the vulnerability of foreign nationals with false promises of legal status and encourage dangerous border crossings, placing lives at risk.