Two people die after Border Patrol vehicle theft in New Mexico

Contributed article/Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

NEW MEXICO – On July 27, at approximately 4:05 a.m., a Border Patrol agent driving an unmarked U.S. Border Patrol vehicle was on roving patrols on New Mexico Route 9 and observed a Tahoe traveling west near mile marker 144. Officer observed vehicle passed their eastbound location on Hwy 9 and vehicle appeared to be carrying more weight than when initially observed. The officer continued to follow the vehicle and noticed that it was traveling slower than normal speed on the highway.

The officer continued to follow the vehicle for approximately two miles, toward the intersection of HW9 and Pete Domenici Boulevard. Just before arriving at the intersection, the officer attempted to stop the vehicle by turning on the hazard lights of his unmarked Border Patrol vehicle around 4:37 a.m., but the driver of the Tahoe turned north on Pete Domenici Blvd. The vehicle continued to travel at the speed limit but ignored the officer’s hazard warning lights, so the officer activated his vehicle’s siren and the driver of the vehicle accelerated, did not yield and continued to drive north on Pete Domenici Blvd. Due to the vehicle’s high speed, the officer turned off his vehicle’s hazard lights and siren and stopped following the vehicle, but continued to drive north on Pete Domenici Boulevard.

A Supervisory Border Patrol agent driving an unmarked vehicle was monitoring radio communications and driving near Pete Domenici Boulevard and Strauss Road. The supervisory officer saw the suspect vehicle approaching behind him and decided to turn east on Airport Road to avoid the suspect vehicle. The driver of the suspect vehicle also turned east on Airport Road and continued to drive behind the supervisory officer. The driver of the suspect vehicle bypassed the supervisory officer’s vehicle using the shoulder lane and continued eastbound on Airport Road at high speed. The supervisory officer continued to drive east on Airport Road and did not activate his Border Patrol Vehicle’s emergency equipment. The supervising officer observed a cloud of dust and vehicle headlights pointing at 4:41 a.m.

The supervising officer immediately requested emergency medical services and assistance from other officers in the area due to what he believed to be a car accident. When he arrived at the intersection of Airport Road and McNutt Road, he observed the suspect vehicle in a ravine on the side of the road and realized that power lines were down on the other side out of the way because he had hit a power pole. Additional officers arrived at the crash site and blocked traffic to prevent civilians from hitting downed power lines.

Shortly thereafter, the Sunland Park Fire Department, EMS, and Border Patrol Trauma Search and Rescue officers arrived on the scene and began tending to the injured occupants of the vehicle. There were a total of 13 suspected undocumented migrants in the suspect vehicle. EMS doctors transported four migrants to Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Texas for further medical evaluation and additional doctors transported six migrants to University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. One migrant was uninjured and was transported to the Santa Teresa border patrol post. Two migrants trapped under the suspect vehicle, both Mexican citizens, were pronounced dead at the scene by EMS medical personnel.

This incident is being investigated by New Mexico State Police and Homeland Security Investigations, and is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The DHS Inspector General’s Office has also been notified.

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