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CBP-AMO A-STAR crew located 2 abandoned in Sierra Pinta

CBP-AMO A-STAR crew located 2 abandoned in Sierra Pinta
Archive image: CBP-AMO (United States Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations) AS350 B3 (A-STAR) helicopter takes-off from Alpine Airport to conducted a mission in the Big Bend Sector area of operation Dec. 6, 2019. The flight was conducted by the Alpine Air unit, which falls under AMO’s El Paso Air Branch.
Big Bend Sector includes over one-quarter of the United States’ southern border and use of helicopters for air-mobility operations to move agents and supplies in and out of harsh terrain has increased apprehensions and seizures of narcotics.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Greg L. Davis.

Ajo, Arizona. — CBP-AMO (Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations) A-STAR helicopter crew located a pair of migrants abandoned in Sierra Pinta.

Friday evening, while responding to a reported group of migrants on the east side of the Sierra Pinta Mountains, a remote area between the Wellton and Ajo Border Patrol Stations, a Yuma Air Branch (YAB) AS350 (A-STAR) helicopter aircrew saw a small light in an area that normally does not have lights and suspecting someone was in trouble and needed help, the AS350 aircrew diverted to the light and upon descending determined there were two individuals who were in distress trying to signal the aircraft with a fire. The aircrew used the public address system to tell the subjects to stay where they were and that an agent would come pick them up. The aircrew notified the Ajo Border Patrol Station, and an agent was directed to the location.

Due to the extended travel time to the extremely remote area, the CBP-AMO A-STAR helicopter aircrew landed to assess the subjects, give them water, and provide them some comfort, until Border Patrol agents arrived.

The aircrew learned that the pair (mother and adult son) had been part of a group of 5 who illegally crossed the border 8 days prior. The pair stated that they had been left behind by the group because they could not keep up and that they had not had water for 5 days. The mother was having difficulty walking due to pain in her legs and her son remained with her. Ajo Border Patrol agents arrived a few hours later and transported the pair to the Ajo Border Patrol Station.

“The aircrew’s diligence and professionalism certainly saved the person’s lives,” said Director of Air Operations, Yuma Air Branch, Douglas Murray. “The remote and extreme terrain of the Sonoran Desert, the lack of water and the injuries are fully capable of producing deadly results for the pair. But not in this case.”

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