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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

El Paso Times Online - Overweight Mojado Dies During Invasion

El Paso Times Online

Fifth immigrant dies in area

Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
A daylong trek in the Southern New Mexico desert claimed the life of an undocumented immigrant Monday, the fifth immigrant to die within a month in the El Paso sector, the U.S. Border Patrol said.

The body of Isidoro Badillo, 20, of Mexico, was found by Border Patrol agents at 7:45 a.m. Monday about 15 miles west of Columbus, N.M., officials said. The cause of death is being investigated.

Badillo had left a small town near Mexico City and paid a smuggler $1,800 to take him to Detroit, where he might have had relatives, said Richard Moody, Border Patrol agent in charge of the Deming station.

Four of the five deaths this year have been in the desert in Southern New Mexico near Deming. The other death was a woman who drowned in a Lower Valley canal. There were 10 immigrant deaths in 2003 in the Border Patrol's El Paso sector, which covers New Mexico and far West Texas.

Badillo was one of six men who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at about 2 a.m. Sunday and began a hike of about 40 miles through "extreme desert," Moody said. The other men were later detained.

Badillo began complaining of leg cramps and other medical problems, the Border Patrol was told by witnesses, who said he was overweight and may have been taking pain medication.

"It's another example of the callousness of the smugglers. He was left behind by the guide" when he could no longer continue, Moody said.

Two immigrants decided to stay with Badillo.

After he died, the immigrants contacted a rancher who called authorities.

An organized smuggling ring is believed to be linked to the failed attempt, the Border Patrol said.

The recent wave of immigrant deaths could be due to smuggling routes in isolated and rugged areas, high temperatures or migrants who may not be physically fit being rushed to make it to a destination to be picked up, Border Patrol agents said.

Agents are also seeing an emerging trend in which smugglers give tired immigrants stimulants to keep them walking.

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