Tucson, AZ – Today in Tucson Federal Court, counsel for the defense in United States vs. Scott Warren will argue in a pre-trial hearing that all charges stemming from Dr. Warren’s January 2017 arrest should be immediately vacated due to the selective nature of Border Patrol’s enforcement activities.
The Motion to Dismiss due to Selective Enforcement filed earlier this year asserts that Dr. Warren’s arrest was a targeted act of political retaliation resulting from No More Deaths’ open criticism of Border Patrol’s human rights abuses. On January 17th, 2018, hours before the arrest, No More Deaths released a report documenting Border Patrol’s routine interference with humanitarian aid efforts. The report was released alongside footage collected over several years showing Border Patrol agents destroying and/or removing aid supplies left in the desert.
The motion references newly disclosed evidence that shows that Border Patrol and U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents collaborated to surveil Scott Warren for many months due to his status as a leading local organizer and critic of BP and USFWS policies. Additionally, BP agents previously testified under oath that their surveillance of the Barn on the day of Dr. Warren’s arrest was motivated by intelligence that lead them to suspect the presence of undocumented immigrants in the area. However text messages between the stationed agents that morning include no reference to said intelligence and demonstrate that the agents were surprised to learn of the presence of migrants at the Barn.
Attempts by defense lawyers to obtain this evidence from the government have been met with consistent stalling and evasion on behalf of the government. Last November, magistrate Judge Velasco ordered the prosecution to disclose any emails or texts sent to the two agents surveilling The Barn from 8:00 a.m. until these two agents went off duty on January 17, 2018. Rather than complying with the order the U.S. Attorney’s office engaged in ex parte communications with Velasco to avoid disclosure, leading to the judge’s removal from the case altogether.
To counter government obstruction and due to the fact that the majority of evidence in this case has been filed under seal, lawyers for First Look Media Works, publisher of The Intercept, recently filed motions to intervene to remove the restrictions on proceedings. “Sealing the exhibits…denies the public’s First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings and judicial documents,” said David Bralow, First Amendment Counsel for First Look Media. “When proceedings are closed or documents are sealed, the public is deprived of the full benefits of openness. Unnecessary suspicion is introduced into the judicial process. Secrecy breeds mistrust.”
In response to the growing evidence that the organization has been consistently targeted by Border Patrol, No More Deaths is asking supporters to call the U.S. Attorney’s Office and demand that the office drop all charges against Dr. Warren.
TUCSON, AZ: On Sunday, May 5th, No More Deaths launched a search and rescue mission in the West Desert outside of Ajo, AZ, resulting in the ultimate recovery of four sets of human remains. The remains were encountered in the Growler Valley, the same valley in which Dr. Scott Warren was issued as citation for leaving water in summer 2017. Dr. Warren has been on trial the past two days and continuing into today for charges related to that incident
The search and rescue was launched in response to a call that came through the No More Deaths Missing Migrant Hotline after family members calling the hotline asked for support in urging Border Patrol’s Search and Rescue arm to initiate a rescue operation and CBP refused to mobilize resources. The first day of the search resulted in the team encountering a set of skeletal human remains that had been found and reported to the Pima County Sheriff in December 2017 by the Armadillos del Desierto, a San Diego based search and rescue organization. The Sheriff never recovered the body. The second day of the search, volunteers found three more sets of remains within a few miles of a newly installed rescue beacon.
The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, where the remains were recovered, is one of the deadliest migration corridors of the US/Mexico borderlands. The Refuge does not grant No More Deaths and others humanitarian groups access to administrative roads, even in emergency situations. Search groups must embark on foot from the edge of the wilderness boundary – greatly diminishing response time and scope.
Dr. Warren has testified in court to his spiritual beliefs that compel him to provide humanitarian aid on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge The discovery of four sets of remains in two days confirmed Warren’s testimony that “the Growler Valley is the area of highest and most need.
The No More Deaths abuse documentation team is investigating systemic governmental inaction to reported emergencies from distressed migrants in the desert. The findings will be published in Part III of The Disappeared report later this year.
The remains from the past two days have been reported to the Pima County Sheriff. The missing person has not been found.
Note: The image above reflects remains recovered in April of 2019 and does not include data about the individuals mentioned in this article.
The Abuse Documentation team is working hard on the third and final installment of the report series Disappeared: How US Border-Enforcement Agencies Are Fueling a Missing-Persons Crisis. Part 3 will deal with emergency nonresponse: the routine failure of the Border Patrol and other law-enforcement agencies to respond adequately to search-and-rescue requests in order to save the lives of people who have gone missing while crossing the US–Mexico border. Continue reading Final “Disappeared” report coming in 2019
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, January 17, 2018
A new report says that humanitarian groups working along the U.S. border with Mexico have documented the systematic destruction of thousands of jugs of water left for migrants trekking north through the desert—and that U.S. Border Patrol agents are to blame. Continue reading US Border Patrol systematically destroyed water supplies left for migrants in desert, report says
Rory Carroll, The Guardian, January 17, 2018
United States border patrol agents routinely vandalise containers of water and other supplies left in the Arizona desert for migrants, condemning people to die of thirst in baking temperatures, according to two humanitarian groups. Continue reading US border patrol routinely sabotages water left for migrants, report says
Yesterday, No More Deaths, in collaboration with La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, released Interference with Humanitarian Aid: Death and Disappearance on the US–Mexico Border. This report is the second installment of a three-part report series entitled Disappeared: How US Border-Enforcement Agencies Are Fueling a Missing-Persons Crisis. In part 2, we detail the intentional destruction of over 3,000 gallons of water left out for border crossers, implicating the US Border Patrol in the majority of this destruction. We document how Border Patrol agents engage in the widespread vandalism of gallons of water left for border crossers and routinely interfere with other humanitarian-aid efforts in rugged and remote areas of the borderlands. Continue reading Demand Border Patrol stop destroying humanitarian aid