January 13, 2023

A male citizen of Mexico died on January 13 in the back of a Border Patrol vehicle that was transporting him, handcuffed, from a remote Arizona location to a hospital.

A long narrative that CBP published on February 27 relates that the man was taken first from the field to a Border Patrol operating base, then to the Border Patrol’s Ajo Station in Why, Arizona, then to the Abrazo Buckeye Emergency Medical Center in Buckeye, Arizona. (Original link) It was during the last leg of the trip that the man passed away. “Upon arrival at the ambulance entrance, one of the agents attempted to wake the man to no avail.”

The CBP release narrates that the deceased man at one point “began to kick the interior of the USBP vehicle,” and later was “acting in a combative and agitated manner while sitting in the back seat.” He had “sustained an injury to his left ankle while attempting to elude apprehension,” and agents “suspected the man’s behavior may be related to the ingestion of drugs.”

“The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on January 15, 2023,” the release reads. “The final cause and manner of death are pending further investigation including toxicology testing.”

The Arizona Daily Star appeared to have identified the deceased man:

One pending autopsy case at the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office says a man named Martin Peraza-Perez, 34, was in Border Patrol custody the day he died on Jan. 13.

A man with that same name and age was convicted of unauthorized re-entry into the country on or around July 25, 2022. He had been previously removed from the country three times and had also been convicted in Maricopa County Superior Court on a 2013 felony of marijuana transport and/or sale, according to a complaint in the case.

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is investigating the incident, and the DHS Office of Inspector-General was notified. “Additionally, CBP’s Office of the Chief Medical Officer and an independent clinician will be conducting a mortality review of this incident.”

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Man Apprehended in Remote Arizona Location Pronounced Deceased,” February 27, 2023. <https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/man-apprehended-remote-arizona-location-pronounced-deceased>.

— Khmara, Danyelle. “Migrant Dies in Border Patrol Custody in Southern Arizona.” Arizona Daily Star. March 1, 2023. <https://tucson.com/news/local/border/migrant-dies-in-border-patrol-custody-in-southern-arizona/article_1dcb3a1c-b864-11ed-8bba-e30f6a8b3078.html>.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult