Additionally, two men were rescued from the harsh desert this week as well, both suffering from heat-related illnesses which required medical attention.
Discovered also in this time frame were the remains of a human skull, linked to a body found in the desert last summer.
In a desert area south of Phoenix, Sheriff Arpaio, “in an intentionally dramatic fashion” (according to Arpaio) warned future desert crossers that they may be embarking upon a death march.
“Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies have investigated 14 deaths since June in and around Gild Bend, an area known for human trafficking. Desert crossers are dying in unknown numbers due to the desert’s brutal conditions and excessively high temperatures,” said Arpaio. “In addition to 14 dead, over 30 individuals have been rescued from the same area this summer.”
Sheriff Arpaio told the media his deputies will now begin to place crosses in the areas where bodies are found to serve as a reminder to those foolish enough to make the desert crossing in the face of the punishing reality that the desert kills.
The Sheriff’s Tent City Jail inmates recently constructed the wooden crosses which will aid those in danger and who call 911 for help. The crosses will be numbered and will be GPS sensitive.
“Every life is precious,” said Arpaio. “It is our duty to preserve the peace and protect the public, no matter their national status or citizenry.”
“However, the courts have repeatedly said that border security is solely the responsibility of the Federal Government,” Arpaio continued. “In light of that fact, I have directed my staff to track the time and resources spent on these mercy missions. The Federal Government’s failure to secure the border should be a charge paid for by that government – not laid at the feet of Maricopa County taxpayers.”
The Honorable Enrique Melendez, Consulate of the Republic of El Salvador and The Consulate General of Guatemala, the Honorable Senora Jimena Diaz, stated that the Consul Generals of Latin American Countries stand with Sheriff Arpaio in the humanitarian effort to warn those who would risk their lives to cross the desert. Senora Diaz had planned on attending the press conference with Sheriff Arpaio but was called to the Tucson area this morning where four Guatemalan nationals were found in the desert in serious condition.
Arpaio also stressed the need for the federal government to defray the costs associated with desert searches, rescues and death investigations, each of which can cost thousands of tax payer dollars.
“If the Federal Government, for whatever reason, cannot secure our borders, it should be their responsibility, and not Arizona taxpayers, to pay for these rescues,” Arpaio concluded.