SAN DIEGO — During the past two weeks, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents in San Diego Sector (SDC), with the assistance of local agencies, were summoned on five separate occasions to rescue migrants who sustained serious injury after illegally entering the U.S.
Injuries to these migrants all occurred while attempting to traverse the dangerous and arduous land near Otay Mountain in San Diego. Most injuries occurred when the hiking migrants tumbled from steep, rocky, and mountainous terrain. While serious, not all are initially life threatening. However, when combined with extreme heat during the day, plummeting cold temperature at night, possible dehydration, isolation, and other environmental factors, even minor injuries can become life threatening.
SDC USBP works in close collaboration with the Government of Mexico (GoM) and other Federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies to rescue people safely and effectively. USBP employs their Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) teams, which are specially trained and equipped to rapidly respond to remote areas along the border and assist migrants and others in need of rescue.
In each of the five cases that USBP and local agencies responded to during the last two weeks, the injured migrants were successfully rescued and medically assisted. In each instance, the injured migrants had been abandoned by their smugglers and left to fend for themselves. Lost, tired, injured, and in need of medical attention, they found themselves in dire straits.
One of those incidents occurred on August 31, 2021, when GoM officials alerted SDC’s Foreign Operations Branch (FOB) about an incident on Otay Mountain involving three men, one of whom was injured. FOB agents notified SDC’s BORSTAR team, who quickly located the men. All three were adult Mexican nationals. They had been abandoned by their smuggler after one man sustained injuries and needed medical attention.
BORSTAR agents assessed the 41-year-old man’s injuries and determined he would need to be extracted by air. The agents requested a helicopter, but the extraction was delayed due to low, dense fog.
BORSTAR agents stayed with the man rendering medical care throughout the night. Eight hours later, the fog cleared enough for San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies to respond and airlift the man off Otay Mountain. The man was transported to a nearby hospital for further medical treatment. The other two Mexican nationals were escorted off the mountain by Border Patrol agents and transported to a nearby USBP station for processing.
Since October 1, 2020, SDC USBP agents have rescued more than 40 people from this hazardous terrain.
“Quick collaboration is absolutely paramount when conducting rescues in these severe environments,” said Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “Thankfully, our agents were able to respond in time.”
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.