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U.S. tries to ID 5 drowned border crossers

Items compiled from Tribune news services

October 25, 2006

MEXICO -- Authorities were trying Tuesday to identify five people believed to have drowned while illegally crossing the swift waters of the Rio Grande into the U.S.

The victims--four men and a woman--were spotted Monday by a Mexican fisherman in the river near the Texas border town of Rio Grande City.

"It's not uncommon to find drowning victims in the river," said Lt. Larry Fuentes of the Starr County sheriff's office. "The only thing that was unusual is we found five at one time."

The most recent Border Patrol statistics show 38 drownings in the Texas stretch of the river from October 2005 to Sept. 15, 2006. That compares with 25 drownings in fiscal year 2005 and 42 in 2004.

For immigrants attempting to cross the river by foot or on rafts, the seemingly calm waters are dangerously deceptive, said Todd Fraser, a spokesman with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington.
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