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September 21, 09

NEWS / CBP Officers Efforts Help Reunite Missing Teen with Family in Mexico

Santa Teresa, N.M. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Santa Teresa port of entry played a major role in bringing a Mexican family back together earlier this week. The effort highlighted a busy week for CBP officers working in the El Paso area.

CBP officers were working the afternoon of September 15 when an unaccompanied boy rode a bicycle from Mexico into the Santa Teresa port of entry. The young teen was not carrying any documentation and had difficulty in explaining to CBP officers who he was or where his parents were because he appeared to be mentally challenged. CBP officers provided the boy with food and drink and began work on trying to identify their guest, who told CBP officers in Spanish that he was 11 years old (but appeared older).

CBP officers contacted various area U.S. law enforcement agencies to determine if there were any reports of missing children. All locations contacted advised that there were none. CBP officers then worked with Border Patrol agents to contact the Mexican Consulate to expand the search to Mexico. CBP provided digital images of the boy to Mexican authorities however there was no immediate word in regards to obtaining an identification of the child. Evening was approaching and the child was turned over the New Mexico Department of Child Protective Services.

Shortly after 8 a.m. on September 16, CBP officers were notified by Mexican authorities that the child had been identified as a 15-year-old teenager who had been reported missing by his mother in Juarez. CBP officials were in regular communication throughout the day with NMDCPS and Mexican authorities to arrange the return the child to Mexico. The teenager was transported to the Paso Del Norte crossing in El Paso and then turned over to Mexican authorities to be reunited with his mother who was waiting in Juarez.

“The humanitarian efforts of the CBP officers involved in this reunion are to be commended,” said Ana Hinojosa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection director of Field Operations in El Paso. “From the moment this child arrived at our doorstep they went the extra mile to care for this boy and make sure that he would rejoin his family as quickly as possible. We are proud to be associated with a story that had a happy ending.”

In addition to helping reunite a family, area CBP officers were busy performing their anti-terror mission and associated enforcement responsibilities during the last week. An enforcement highlight of the week included a pair of currency smuggling attempts that were stopped. CBP officers seized $829,290 in a pair of southbound currency smuggling busts at the El Paso port of entry on Friday, September 11.

CBP officers recorded 114 immigration violations this week including 60 intended immigrants. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. They also lose their documents and are generally returned to Mexico. CBP officers stopped 36 imposters because of thorough document exams. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico. Area CBP officers also identified 18 people who made false claims to U.S. citizenship, attempted to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, and those who entered without inspection.

During the past week, CBP officers at area ports made 10 drug seizures. CBP officers seized 372 pounds of marijuana in nine seizures and 22.9 pounds of cocaine in one additional bust.

CBP officers at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico made half a dozen seizures of agricultural items during the previous seven days. Violators paid $1,450 in penalties in association with the violations. Dozens of other properly declared yet prohibited agricultural items were abandoned at area ports with no penalties being assessed.

CBP officers at El Paso area ports of entry made a total of 22 fugitive apprehensions during the last seven days. While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.


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AnnaMaria Realbuto
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Kateryna Melnychenko
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Rani Payne
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