Man dies in cross-border trek, accused smuggler arrested

SAN DIEGO – A 23-year-old man was in custody Thursday for allegedly smuggling seven Mexican nationals into the United States in the Dulzura area, resulting in the death of one of them from apparent environmental exposure.

On Monday evening, officials in Mexico notified the U.S. Border Patrol that they had gotten a cellphone call from a woman reporting that she was lost north of the border on Otay Mountain and that her husband was ill and suffering from dehydration, according to USBP public affairs.

About 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, Border Patrol personnel found the 22-year-old woman about two miles north of the international border. Several hours later, searchers located the body of the woman’s 35-year-old husband in the same general area.

Investigators determined that the couple had been with a group of fellow Mexican nationals, the rest of whom had been detained about five miles north of the border near Dulzura. One was identified as the person who allegedly had been in charge of sneaking the party of travelers across the border. He was arrested on suspicion of human smuggling.

The suspect’s name was not immediately available.