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Mexican consulate investigating link to Carrizo Wash deaths

November 20, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Mexican consulate officials said this morning they are conducting an investigation to confirm that five immigrants whose remains were found Saturday were part of a larger group of border-crossers who succumbed to the heat during the summer.

Rita Vargas, head of the consulate in Calexico, said it is thought the five were part of a group of at least 14 that crossed the border in July.

She confirmed this morning reports that a man who claimed to be part of a group who crossed the border in July had contacted her office expressing concern about the group.

The man said he had reached Los Angeles but he did not think others in his group had made it out of the desert. The man claimed that the group members had scattered because they saw U.S. Border Patrol vehicles in the area, Vargas said.

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Vargas said according to the man who contacted her office, those in his group may have died waiting to be picked up by a van that never came.

She said the man was unable to give a specific location where he thought his group would be.

During the summer the county Coroner's Office reported there were a number of immigrants' bodies found in the Carrizo Wash area.

County Coroner Investigator Deputy Gary Hayes said based on information from the Mexican consulate there is a chance the bodies found in the summer are connected to the discovery of the five bodies Saturday.

He said he has a "strong suspicion" at least four bodies recovered from the Carrizo Wash area during the summer were directly tied to the recent discovery.

He said that suspicion is based largely on the clothing they were wearing and the location where they were discovered.

Hayes added there were other bodies found in the area that may or may not have been part of the group.

"A lot of people died in Carrizo Wash," Hayes said, adding there may be bodies that were part of the group that have not yet been discovered.

Vargas said this morning her office is working on confirming the identification of the five bodies. While the four men and one woman were found with identification, their names need to be confirmed.

She said it could take a couple days to do that.

She added as the names are confirmed that will aid her office in determining whether the five were connected to any other deaths in the area.

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

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