7 Rescued, 1 Dead from Failed Smuggling Attempt

Release Date: February 5, 2021

OTAY, Calif.—U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents assisted in the rescue of seven undocumented migrants from a cross-border drainage culvert.

The incident occurred on January 29, 2021, at approximately 3:30 p.m., when agents patrolling east of the San Ysidro Port of Entry discovered a man clinging to a closed grate inside a drainage culvert.

The agents immediately opened the grate, which was obstructed by trash and debris. As the debris was released, water rushed through the opening and a second man was ejected along with the first. Emergency medical services, the San Diego Fire Department, and the Chula Vista Fire Department were immediately notified and responded.

Working in coordination, a total of ten Mexican nationals were encountered from the interior of the cross-border drainage culvert. Of the ten, eight required rescue efforts, two of which were unresponsive. Border Patrol agents rendered medical aid and successfully revived an unresponsive female in the group. Despite efforts to revive the unresponsive male, he was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The revived female as well as two additional members of the group were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. After evaluation, six migrants were transported to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing. The deceased man was turned over to the county coroner’s office.

As the agents and their partners rendered medical aid and assistance to the rescued people, a second group of approximately 16 additional people rushed through the opened cross-border culvert. Additional agents arrived and were able to arrest the second group which consisted of three Guatemalan nationals and 13 Mexican nationals. All 16 were illegally present in the U.S. and taken to a nearby station for processing.

“While I am grateful for the life-saving efforts of our agents and partners, this serves as a grim reminder of the inherent dangers of crossing the border illegally,” said Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “As our agents provided life-saving measures to the first abandoned group, the smugglers callously directed a second group into the culvert in an attempt to overwhelm agents – who nonetheless, got the job done.”

To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on corridors of egress away from our Nation’s borders. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.