5 Migrants Rescued After Being Abandoned in Cold California Mountains by Cartel Smugglers

San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents and first responders attempt to save the life of a Mexican woman who became lost in the Southern California mountains after illegally entering the U.S. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/San Diego Sector)
Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/San Diego Sector

San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents and other first responders teamed up to rescue a group of Mexican migrants who were abandoned in inclement conditions in the Otay Mountains of Southern California. The group of five illegal aliens included a minor.

During the night of March 18, the San Diego Sector’s Foreign Operation Branch (FOB) received an emergency call for help from a group of Mexican nationals who reported themselves to be lost in the cold mountainous region near the California-Mexico border, according to information obtained from San Diego Sector Border Patrol officials.

The FOB team contacted San Diego Sector Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) operators, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) aircrews, the San Diego Fire Department, and Cal-Fire to prosecute a rescue operation.

Teamwork between BORSTAR, AMO, and FOB led to the successful location of the migrant group less than four hours later, officials stated. The searchers found the missing migrants at about 1 a.m. Thursday morning in an area known as Colonel’s Ridgeline. The mountainous region is located about two miles north of the Mexican border with California and three miles east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry where they could have legally and safely attempted to cross the border.

BORSTAR agents carried out a medical evaluation of the migrants and found one, an 18-year-old Mexican female, to be suffering hypothermia. She was in and out of consciousness at the time, the agents reported.

Bad weather and low visibility precluded AMO from extracting the distressed woman at the scene. BORSTAR agents carried her through extremely rugged terrain to a fire-break road where the helicopter was able to land and fly her to a hospital for treatment. As of the time of the press release, the woman remains in critical condition and is reported to be unconscious.

The four remaining migrants, all Mexican males, including one 17-year-old juvenile, were guided to safety and taken to the Border Patrol station for processing and likely removal to the interior regions of Mexico.

“We have said it many times, do not place your life or the lives of your loved ones in the hands of ruthless smugglers,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said in a written statement. “I am proud of the heroic efforts that these agents and our partners made to locate and provide aid to those in need.  These criminal organizations smuggle people through dangerous routes in an attempt to avoid apprehension.”

Chief Heitke continued, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the woman and her family during this difficult time.”

So far this fiscal year, which began October 1, 2019, San Diego Sector agents have rescued 36 migrants on land and at sea.

In February, three Mexican women died from exposure to the cold mountainous region after human smugglers abandoned them and they became separated from their group, officials reported.

So far this calendar year, at least 32 migrants have died while, or shortly after illegally crossing the border from Mexico, according to the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

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