CBP Air and Marine Operations Rescues Illegal Immigrants in Distress

SIERRA BLANCA, TX – After an extensive two-day search involving multiple agencies and air and ground assets, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) located three missing persons from Guatemala near Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Aircrews with the AMO El Paso Air Branch (EPAB), along with United States Border Patrol (USBP) agents from El Paso and Big Bend Sectors, had been searching for the missing individuals since early Wednesday morning after two men had called “911” for assistance.

In a coordinated multi-agency effort, AMO aircrews from both El Paso and Alpine, Texas, searched the area in AS350 and UH-1N helicopters.  Onboard were Air and Marine Emergency Medical Services-trained EMT’s and USBP Border Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) teams.  The aircrews located two men on Wednesday morning.       

The men, ages 41 and 52, were located about 13 miles southwest of Sierra Blanca.  Both were severely dehydrated, and stated that they had been traveling with a 29-year-old woman whom they left behind because she was also severely dehydrated and injured.  They also stated they had made the decision to leave her behind on Tuesday since she was slowing them down.

AMO and USBP continued to search for the woman until late Wednesday without success, so on Thursday morning, a crew from AMO resumed the search in a UH-1N with BORSTAR agents onboard.  At 8:15 a.m., the aircrew spotted the woman in a small valley approximately 12 miles south of Sierra Blanca, Texas.  The woman was airlifted to the USBP Sierra Blanca station where an ambulance was waiting to transport her to Culberson Hospital in Van Horn, Texas, for further medical care.

The individuals had illegally entered the United States from Mexico on Sunday, and had been traveling across the desert on foot.

“It is important to recognize the partnerships that exist between area agencies. AMO works very well with USBP and other federal, state, and local assets.  This rescue involved participation from two different air units within AMO, and two different sectors within USBP.

Not only were we able to save these people, we were able to strengthen our relationships with partner agencies and advance our mission,” said El Paso Air Branch Director of Operations, Rudy Maldonado.


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