COCHISE COUNTY — An undocumented man called for help late Sunday afternoon on Miller Peak after the group he had crossed the border with left him behind, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office said.
The man, Santos Noel Calderon, called 911 with his cell phone on Sunday just after 5 p.m., and said he was injured and lost, said Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas. He also said he had crossed into the U.S. illegally.
Calderon explained that he had been left behind by the group he was traveling with, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels told the Herald/Review on Monday. It’s not clear how many people he was with and where they ended up.
The Border Patrol was notified and agents kept track of Calderon’s whereabouts through the signal on his cell phone, Capas said. Border Patrol Agents finally reached Calderon at about 9:15 p.m. after hiking in to rescue him.
“Air support could not get to Calderon because it was too windy,” Capas said.
Dannels pointed to Calderon’s situation as an example of the cavalier attitude displayed by human smugglers — known as coyotes — who will leave their charges behind if they can’t keep up.
The sheriff said that in 2020, 181 people died in the desert in Southeastern Arizona — Cochise and Santa Cruz counties — after they were either left behind on purpose or accidentally got separated from the group they intended to cross into the U.S. with.
A presentation by the Sheriff’s Southeast Arizona Border Region Enforcement shows that between 2017 and now, just more than 27,000 undocumented migrants have entered the U.S. between New Mexico and California illegally, their images caught by Buckeye cameras placed along the border.
“We apprehended 9,000 of those,” Dannels said. “But what happened to the other 18,000?”
This past March, the Sheriff’s Buckeye cameras captured images of 3,379 undocumented migrants crossing the border illegally, with 1,149 of those getting caught.