A man suspected of illegally crossing into the United States on Wednesday drowned in a canal near the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, U.S. Customs Border Patrol said Friday.
CBP said Border Patrol agents saw the man and two others illegally entered the U.S. about two miles west of the Gran Plaza Outlet around 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The two men were quickly caught after swimming across the All-American Canal, which runs parallel to the Mexico-California border. The victim, however, was struggling to stay afloat in the canal.
Agents were not able to reach the man before he drowned, according to the CBP. Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) were called and quickly arrived on the scene to recover the man's body but had to call the operation off because of heavy rain and low visibility.
The man's body, which was found submerged about 150 yards from where he crossed, was recovered 10 a.m. Thursday, the CBP said.
“This incident tragically illustrates how human smuggling organizations place migrants in perilous situations,” Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said. “This man put his trust in human smugglers and it cost him his life.”
All-American Canal is federally owned but is managed by the Imperial Irrigation District. The water in the canal can move a quickly as 30 mph, which can be a challenge for migrants who aren't strong swimmers.
The district installed buoy lines along the 23-mile concrete-line portioned of the canal in 2011, according to the Associated Press. More than 500 migrants have died trying to cross into the U.S. through the canal.
Neither the identity of the man nor his national origin has been released. The two men traveling with the victim were El Salvadorans, the CBP said.