It’s happened again. A party of Mexican nationals who entered the United States illegally tried to make their way across desert terrain in searing heat and fatally misjudged the risk. Rangers recently recovered the bodies of three illegal immigrants in Big Bend National Park, and there is reason to suspect that even more Mexican nationals may have perished recently in the area.
Big Bend, a large, isolated park bordering on the Rio Grande River, is not a good place to be out in the open at this time of year, especially if you don’t have plenty of water and lots of stamina. Cross country desert travel is extremely hazardous in June, which is one of the two hottest months of the year in the park. By mid June, Big Bend had experienced triple digit temperatures virtually every day for more than a month.
On June 5, park rangers and Border Patrol agents responding to a 911 call from a park visitor recovered a man’s body that was discovered in the northeastern part of the park next to an isolated dirt road. The man had apparently died of heat and thirst.
Rangers conducted interviews in the Mexican border town of Boquillas and learned that a man matching the description of the deceased had crossed the Rio Grande and entered the park on May 30. There were two other men with him.
Rangers found a second body on June 9 after backtracking from the site where the first body was found. Yet another body, presumably that of the third man in the group, was discovered on June 16 on an abandoned road near Telephone Canyon. This discovery was made as the result of a systematic search of the suspected route taken by the three individuals who entered the park May 30.
Rangers recovered three backpacks, one of which contained identification for at least one of the bodies. Positive identification of all three bodies awaits the results of autopsies performed in El Paso and interviews conducted with relatives in the United States and Mexico. The Mexican consulate office is cooperating.
There is reason to think that additional bodies may be found in or near Big Bend. While conducting the investigation focused on the three deceased individuals, officials learned that other Mexican nationals who may have entered the U.S. through the park have failed to show up at their intended destinations.