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'Gut-Wrenching Cruelty': Infant, Toddler Abandoned in AZ Desert as Ruthless Smugglers Exploit Migrants for Money


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In addition to the ever-enduring flow of human suffering at the U.S. southern border, smugglers are being exposed yet again for their ruthlessness when it comes to their handling of unaccompanied minors. 

The U.S. Border Patrol says one of its agents rescued an infant and a toddler who was left alone by human traffickers in western Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

A migrant in a group of border crossers arrested on Thursday west of the Lukeville, Arizona, port of entry alerted an agent to the children's location.

An 18-month-old was found crying and a 4-month-old was discovered face down and unresponsive. Both children received medical attention at a hospital and were released back into Border Patrol custody. 

"Yesterday smugglers left two young children — an infant and a toddler — in the Sonoran Desert to die," Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief John Modlin said in a statement. "This is not just another example of smugglers exploiting migrants for money. This is cruelty. And it is gut-wrenching. I commend our agents for their quick response to this dreadful incident and to every incident in which migrant lives are at stake."

Authorities did not release any details about the children, including what country they came from or the identities of their parents or guardians.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument stretches along the Mexican border in southwestern Arizona, a harsh, dry landscape studded with towering cactuses and other desert flora. It's about 130 miles (209 kilometers) southwest of Phoenix.

Because of its remoteness, the 517-square-mile park is a favored crossing area for some smugglers. The human remains of suspected border crossers are often found in the area.

The Border Patrol's Tucson Sector says it has seen a 12% increase in unaccompanied children being smuggled across the border over the past fiscal year.

1.8 Million Arrests at U.S.-Mexico Border This Year, Smugglers Grow More Brazen

As CBN News has reported, the crisis at the U.S. southern border has escalated since President Joe Biden took office. Detentions at the U.S.-Mexico border are on pace to shatter previous apprehension numbers.

Border Patrol agents have made more than 1.8 million captures this fiscal year. The number beats last year's record with two months to go. About 70% of the stops are single adults likely looking for work.

The numbers come as the Biden administration has undone or rolled back significant Trump-era immigration policies. The "Remain in Mexico" policy required asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their court hearing has been ended. But Title 42, a policy that denies migrants asylum because of the COVID pandemic, remains in effect for now due to court rulings.

The large numbers also represent an opportunity for human smugglers to prey on migrants and others who seek a better life for their children in the U.S.  

As CBN News reported last year, smugglers have become even more brazen in their attempts to get children across the border. 

In April of 2021, traffickers dumped two little girls over a 14-foot border wall in the middle of the New Mexico desert.

Agents spotted the two girls from Ecuador on a remote camera and were able to locate them in an area just west of El Paso. They took them to a local hospital to be checked and cleared before transporting them to a temporary holding facility.

The girls were just two in a sea of 122,000 unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody in 2021. 

In March of 2021, a six-month-old baby girl was rescued by a special operations team of Texas Rangers from the Rio Grande River after a smuggler threw the baby girl out of a raft. The child was rescued and was reunited with her mother in U.S. Border Patrol custody. 

Earlier that same month, the Border Patrol attempted to help a family of three migrants. A mother and her two children were found unresponsive on an island in the Rio Grande, according to  The mother and the youngest child survived, but her 9-year-old died from drowning. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of