Four arrested at camp for humanitarian organization No More Deaths

Updated: Jun. 15, 2017 at 9:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Four people have been arrested at a camp for the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, federal authorities said.

Border Patrol said four people were arrested for immigration violations and all four are from Mexico.

On Twitter, No More Deaths said 30 armed agents entered the camp to "apprehend four patients receiving care."

Border Patrol said on Wednesday, agents saw "four suspected illegal aliens wearing camouflage and walking north on a known smuggling route." The men were tracked to the camp near Aravaca but agents were unable to find evidence the individuals had left the camp, according to Border Patrol.

"Tucson Sector Border Patrol reached out to No Mas Muertes Camps representatives to continue a positive working relationship and resolve the situation amicably," Border Patrol said in a news release. "The talks, however, were unsuccessful."

Border Patrol said they obtained a search warrant for the camp and arrested the four men Thursday.

"A month prior, a similar incident occurred involving eight individuals detected going into the camp," Border Patrol said in the release. "Successful negotiations in that incident resulted in the surrender of eight individuals who were taken into custody. Once in custody, it was determined two of the illegal alien had prior significant criminal records in the U.S."

No More Deaths said the four men were receiving medical care and the action by the agents was an abuse by law enforcement, a violation of humanitarian law and "a violation of the organization's written agreement with the Tucson Sector Border Patrol."

"The heavy presence of law enforcement has deterred people from accessing critical humanitarian assistance in this period of hot and deadly weather," No More Deaths said in a news release. "These events also follow a pattern of increasing surveillance of humanitarian aid over the past few months under the Trump administration."

According to their website, No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization that was formed in southern Arizona in 2004. They work to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert area between the U.S. and Mexico.

"Since 2013 the Tucson sector of the Border Patrol has had a written agreement with No More Deaths that they will respect the NMD camp as a medical facility under the international Red Cross standards, which  prohibit government interference with humanitarian aid centers," said John Fife, one of the founders of No More Deaths. "That agreement now has been violated by the Border Patrol under the most suspicious circumstances. The Border Patrol acknowledged that they tracked a group for 18 miles, but only after the migrants sought medical treatment did the Border Patrol seek to arrest them. The choice to interdict these people only after they entered the No More Deaths' camp is direct evidence that this was a direct attack on humanitarian aid.  At the same time, the weather forecast is for record setting deadly temperatures."

On Wednesday, No More Deaths announced agents had surrounded the camp in Aravaca and called on Border Patrol to leave, claiming their presence was hurting the "humanitarian aid efforts during the hottest part of the year."

This isn't the first time No More Deaths has had issues with Border Patrol.

In 2005, two volunteers were arrested for alleged transporting people who had entered the country illegally.

The group said the volunteers were trying to save the lives of dehydrated immigrants when they were arrested.

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