On April 15, Border Patrol agents found a man who had been left for dead by other migrants in a group that he’d crossed the desert with. The next day, the Border Patrol received information that led to the discovery of another dead man near the border wall west of Nogales.
Materials found on the men identified both as Mexican residents.
The man found on April 15 was from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and authorities discovered his body near State Route 289 (Ruby Road) and Camino Maricopa, west of Interstate 19 in Rio Rico, according to reports from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. The man found on April 16 was from Temascalcingo in the State of Mexico, outside Mexico City, and his body was discovered at the foot of the border wall, about 1.5 miles west of the Mariposa Port of Entry, reports show.
The recent incidents highlight the danger that migrants face when crossing through the desert in Southern Arizona. A database maintained by Humane Borders listed 64 dead bodies found in the Southern Arizona desert so far in 2021, though more than half of those were believed to have been dead for more than six months. Of the 64 total, six were found in Santa Cruz County, and all but one of those was believed to have been discovered within a day of death.
They also point to the fact that, despite the Border Patrol’s heavy presence along the international border and in the Santa Cruz County community, it’s sometimes third-party reports that lead to the discovery of deceased migrants in the desert.
In the April 16 case, Border Patrol agents reportedly told a Sheriff’s Office deputy that a “Mexican scout” approached them and told them about the location of the man from Temascalcingo.
On April 15, it was a migrant aid group, Aguilas del Desierto, that reported the man’s location, after receiving information from other migrants in his group who said he’d been left unconscious and could be found next to a red shirt on top of a fencepost.
A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said that the Pima County Medical Examiner hadn’t provided further information about the causes of death in either case as of Monday.
Though the medical examiner’s determination wasn’t available, a Nogales Police Department officer and sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene on April 16 initially believed the man from the State of Mexico was likely killed after falling headfirst from a new, tall border fence that was constructed west of the Mariposa port in recent months, reports show.
In the area where the man was found, a recently improved gravel road provides easy access for Border Patrol agents monitoring the rural stretch of the international boundary. It’s also an area where the border features two barriers – the older, shorter bollard fence that’s been outfitted with barbed concertina wire and the newer, taller fence installed in projects that began last year.
The new barrier was put up around the beginning of the year, according to the sheriff’s deputy’s report. The NPD officer noted that the new wall was 30-40 feet high. The deputy said the man appeared to have been dead for less than 24 hours.
Both the deputy and the officer wrote that they believed the man had fallen from the new wall and landed on his head. A blood trail led from the new wall to the man’s resting place, a few feet away, at the old border wall. The NPD officer added that the man had a “crushed skull.”
Although the man’s body was found at a location with two layers of border wall, the abrupt halt of wall construction ordered earlier this year by President Biden means some gaps were left in the new fence. Approximately a half-mile west of where the man’s body was found, an an area where a currently dry wash crosses the border, there’s a roughly 100-foot-wide gap in the new barrier and only a waist-high vehicle barrier between U.S. and Mexican soil.