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Bodies of undocumented immigrants found in desert areas

July 23, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Two men, both thought to be undocumented immigrants, were found dead in separate locations in the Imperial Valley over the weekend.

The body of one man was found by U.S. Border Patrol agents at 9:30 a.m. Sunday in the Carrizo Wash area 10 miles northwest of Plaster City.

County Coroner Investigator Rick Williams said while the man has been identified, his name will not be released until his family is notified.

The man, thought to be 22 to 24 years old, was believed to be an undocumented immigrant because he was in an area known to be a route for illegal immigrants.

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Williams said the body had been in the desert seven to 14 days. He added because of the severity of decomposition, an examination by a forensic anthropologist will be necessary to determine the cause of death.

Coroner's officials said for that reason it is too early to determine if the man died from heat exposure.

The discovery of the body in the Carrizo Wash area comes nearly two weeks after another man thought to be an undocumented immigrant was found in that wash.

It was first thought that man died from hyperthermia but it was later determined he was murdered. Coroner's officials reported the man's trachea had been crushed, a sign he had been strangled.

The second body found over the weekend was spotted by a passerby sometime before 3 p.m. Saturday.

Williams said environmental hyperthermia — exposure to the heat — is thought to be the cause of death.

The man's identity had not been determined as of this morning, and coroner's officials were working with the Mexican consulate in Calexico to verify an identification.

The body was found in the Brawley area on Shank Road near the Magnolia Drain.

Williams said that is an area where immigrants who have crossed illegally into the United States wait to be picked up.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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