Criminal Justice News

Thursday, August 09, 2012

CBP Rescues Illegal Immigrant from Steep Cliff

Air and Marine Blackhawk, BORSTAR agents integrate efforts

Tucson, Ariz. – A man stuck on a near-vertical cliff within the Cerro Colorado Mountains near Arivaca, Ariz., was rescued in a Customs and Border Protection joint operation yesterday. 

The subject, a Mexican national in the U.S. illegally, called 911 twice Monday stating he was lost and stuck on a ledge. The dispatcher was unable to obtain his exact location but a helicopter crew from Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine spotted the man around 10 p.m.

After the air crew determined the man needed help getting down the mountain, Tucson Sector Border Patrol’s Search, Trauma and Rescue team (known as BORSTAR) was called in. The rescue mission was evaluated and rescuers decided it would be safer to delay the operation until daybreak.

BORSTAR agents remained on scene throughout the night. By 5 a.m. and with enough daylight to safely begin, rescuers started their ascent toward the subject using a Technical Rope Rescue system. By 9 a.m., a BORSTAR agent climbed to within 30 feet of the subject but had to stop due to his position on the cliff and a lack of anchor points for the rope. It was determined the individual would have to be extracted from the air.

A CBP Blackhawk helicopter crew from the Tucson Air Branch then responded and extracted the subject using a Helicopter Rope Suspension Technique. In addition to the air agents onboard, a CBP officer was onboard serving as Supplemental Aircrew Member (SAM). SAMs perform sensor, camera and observer duties.

Air agents fast roped to the stranded subject and prepared he him for extraction. Once he was airlifted to a safe area, he was lowered to BORSTAR agents on the ground. He then was medically evaluated and treated for mild dehydration before being transported to the Tucson Border Patrol Station for further processing.

“Through combined efforts, we are able to respond to a vast array of situations,” said. Tucson Air Branch Director Mitch Pribble. “This rescue operation is the perfect example how Air and Marine works side-by-side with our sister components in Arizona to foster a more tightly knit integrated CBP organization.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our Nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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