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Angeles Continue Search For Missing Man's Remains

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Angeles Continue Search For Missing Man's Remains

Angeles Continue Search For Missing Man's Remains

The federal government reports that last year they apprehended more than 200,000 undocumented migrants in southern Arizona alone. What they don't report - because they don't know - is how many migrants are not apprehended, either because the migrants aren't caught or because they die on the way.

What happened in this case is that Roberto Quirarte fell ill in the desert. The group he was with – at least twenty migrants and two smugglers, known as "coyotes" – reportedly left him there, then stole his wife’s telephone, and threatened to hold her for ransom. She somehow escaped from the coyotes, but not from the Border Patrol. The agent who picked her up on the side of State Highway 86 a few days later wasn’t available for comment, but a spokesman with the Patrol, Victor Brabble, said that regardless of citizenship, "If someone’s in distress, that immediately becomes Border Patrol’s first priority."

And she says she  was in distress: She was dehydrated and delirious and taken to a hospital. Then she was deported. She says that before she left, she told an agent that her husband was stuck in the desert, but Border Patrol can neither confirm nor deny that they were a.) given this information or b.) that they did anything about it, although, Brabble says, it is the agency’s official policy to perform such a search if someone is reported lost.

So, in lieu of what Quirarte’s family believed to be an official search and rescue effort, they contacted the all-volunteer, San Diego based, Angeles del Desierto: Angels of the Desert. The group recently made their fourth trip to Arizona, guided only by the disparate set of landmarks Roberto’s wife told them about. For example, she remembers the skull of a cow near a creek that they crossed. She remembers a pond close to a track of asphalt where they took their shoes off, for fear their dusty footprints would give them away. But these markers, Angeles leader Rafael Hernandez said, were not enough.

"She say one cow," Hernandez said. "But unfortunately, we found not only one cow, but three cows, dead."

Angeles del Desierto abandoned the search after a few days, but plan to return next weekend to look again. Until then, Roberto Quirarte remains in the desert, whereabouts unknown.

Devin Browne was a reporter for KZJZ's Fronteras Desk.