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Five bodies

November 18, 2001

discovered

in western

desert area

By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

CARRIZO WASH — The bodies of five people, all thought to be undocumented immigrants, were found Saturday in this western Imperial Valley desert area.

County Coroner Investigator Deputy Gary Hayes said a person camping in the area made the grizzly discovery about 10 a.m.

Hayes said he was not going to be able to recover the bodies Saturday. He said the plan was to use an off-road vehicle to reach the bodies today.

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Hayes said because he had not responded to the scene Saturday he could not say for certain whether the five bodies were those of immigrants.

However, he said because of the area where the bodies were discovered — a well-known path for those trying to cross into the United States illegally — they likely were immigrants.

Hayes said he was unsure how long the bodies had been in the area. He said a sheriff's deputy responded to the scene and reports indicate the remains have been in the area awhile.

During the summer, several immigrants died in the Carrizo Wash area. The majority of those found in the area died from heat exposure.

Hayes said more information was expected to be available later today.

U.S. Border Patrol authorities were unavailable for comment on the deaths Saturday.

Eighty-nine people died trying to cross the border in Imperial County during the Border Patrol's last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. That was the second-highest number the Border Patrol has recorded in Imperial County, with the highest number being 90 in 1998.

Border Patrol authorities say a change in the areas covered by the El Centro and Calexico stations could cut the number of deaths.

The change calls on the El Centro station to cover the border areas leading west from Calexico while the Calexico station will be responsible for Calexico and the area east from the city toward Arizona.

Officials have said the changes will increase coverage in the western desert.

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

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