A large group of suspected drug smugglers were rescued from the Arizona desert Friday, after a Spanish-speaking male called 911 asking for help, My Fox Phoenix reports.
At 1:30 p.m., the caller told a 911 operator he was part of a group of individuals that had been in the desert for 10 days, and had been reduced to drinking water from cacti in order to survive. They had been lost near Gila Bend off Interstate 8 for five days, and without any water for three, according to the Arizona Republic.
Fox 10 has more:
The man admitted they were transporting 700 pounds of marijuana and had left it somewhere in the desert, and would turn it over once rescued.
“It takes manpower. What do you do? Forget it? I don’t think that’s right, we should do whatever to save lives no matter who they are… We have our search and rescue out there and Jeep posse. Tonight we are going to work through the night to rescue these people,” said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Both Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Border Patrol led search and rescue operations throughout the day. Five people were found at approximately 7 p.m., and the remaining 13 were found at 9 p.m., ABC 15 reports.
“About 80 per cent of our job with the helicopter is search and rescue,” Sgt. Wes Kuefer, one of MCSO’s chopper pilots, told Fox 10. “They start up from Mexico. They try and get across the desert, but this kind of temperature, 100 plus degree days, they get out there. They’re usually travelling with very little water if any, and if you can’t get in there in time that’s when the helicopter comes in.”
“The risk they take to enter the country is tremendous,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio told the Republic.
It’s still unclear whether the drugs have been recovered.
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