Police free woman locked in hot compartment by smugglers - Tucson News Now

Police free woman locked in hot compartment by smugglers

Source: Nogales Police Department Source: Nogales Police Department
Source: Nogales Police Department Source: Nogales Police Department
Source: Nogales Police Department Source: Nogales Police Department
NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Police were able to safely rescue a woman trying to sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday, June 9, after the people smuggling her locked her in a hot vehicle compartment and abandoned her.

The Nogales Police Department got a call late in the morning from the U.S. Border Patrol about a woman in need of immediate help in the Freeport area, about half a mile away from the border. NPD Sgt. Mario Rodriguez was reportedly the first officer on scene.

According to a news release, 26-year-old Angeles Montes Mariano was "illegally guided across the border by 'coyotes'" on Wednesday, June 7. The woman was using her cell phone to keep close contact with her brother and other family in Puebla, Mexico. 

When Mariano arrived in the U.S., she was taken by the human smugglers into a fenced yard that is used to store vehicles, police said. 

Officers say Mariano was told to climb inside of a small storage compartment of an out-of-service ambulance, about 4-feet wide by 4-feet high. She reportedly obeyed their instructions, got in, and "was told to wait quietly until she heard further instructions."

Nogales police said she was left with little water and no food, in the locked compartment.

According to officers on scene during her rescue, "The small double-doors that trapped her inside had a gasket seal that made the compartment nearly air-tight. The inside of the compartment was lined with diamond plate aluminum, creating an oven-like effect inside." 

Officers said she was abandoned in that locked compartment from Wednesday night until late Friday morning, and that "temperatures likely reached unbearable conditions."

Using her cell phone, officers said Mariano was able to reach out to her brother, Florencio, in Puebla, which is about 1,400 miles from Nogales. She reportedly told him she was trapped in the ambulance, with very little description about where she was. 

Officers said Florencio got to Nogales about 36 hours after he received the initial call from his sister for help, and told U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents at the Mariposa Port of Entry about needing to get help for his sister.

Rodriguez helped the Border Patrol in their search. According to officers, there was one ambulance located inside a fenced yard next to two abandoned school buses.

More than 40 hours after being initially locked in the compartment, rescue personnel were able to rescue Mariano. 

"She was extremely weak and dehydrated. Mariano was immediately treated with an I.V. by a Border Patrol medic and taken by the Nogales Fire Department to the hospital where she later made a full recovery," the news release said.

"[Friday's] rescue of Angeles is a grim reminder of the dangers illegal immigration poses, and the careless tactics used by human smugglers. Fortunately [Friday], this incident did not result in a death," Nogales officers said in the news release.

Officers said Florencio was informed of his sister's safe rescue, "and that she was going to be processed at the local Border Patrol station." The news release said he was informed he would be kept updated of Mariano's deportation process so they could reunite at a later time.

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