Female Central American migrant found dead in scorched Arizona desert

Aerial view of desert hills under blue sky in Californias Mojave desert, near Ridgecrest. Small rock formations, desert brush.

YUMA, Ariz. – Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents spent the past week working with the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates and the Yuma County Coroner’s Office to identify a woman who was found deceased in the desert on June 13.

Agents assigned to the Yuma station encountered the deceased woman under a tree near County 19th Street and Avenue 10E as they tracked a group of three migrants who illegally entered the United States. The Yuma County coroner responded to the scene and took custody of the woman and began the process of identifying her.

The woman had a Mexican identification card in her possession; however, after reaching out to the Mexican consulate, it was determined that the identification card was fraudulent, and it was not the deceased woman.

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In their continued efforts to identify the woman, the Mexican consulate called a phone number that was found among her belongings. The number belonged to a family member of a 23-year-old Guatemalan woman. The family provided the woman’s name, and the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates relayed the information to the coroner, who then reached out to Yuma Sector’s Foreign Operations Branch (FOB) to search their database.

Border Patrol Agent Padilla, a program manager assigned to FOB, said a search of Yuma Sector’s processing database revealed that the woman had been apprehended by Wellton agents on June 9 and again by Yuma agents on June 11. As a result, the database contained a photo of the woman and her fingerprints.

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The Yuma Sector Evidence Team (SET) then sent the fingerprints from their database along with the fingerprints from the coroner to a fingerprint expert in San Diego and the result was a match.

“Through collaboration and open lines of communication between the Mexican consulate, Guatemalan consulate, the Yuma County Coroner’s Office, the Yuma SET and the Yuma Sector FOB we were able to make a preliminary positive identification,” said Padilla.  

He said the positive identification will be forwarded to the Guatemalan consulate, which will then notify the family.

“One of the rewarding aspects of my job is having the opportunity to share the Border Patrol humanitarian efforts and bring closure to the families who have lost a family member,” Padilla said.

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Since the start of the fiscal year in October 2020, six deceased migrants have been recovered in Yuma Sector’s area of operations. Through the Missing Migrant Program and in collaboration with the Mexican consulate, migrants are urged against crossing the desert in the summer months as temperatures can exceed well over 100 degrees.

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