Parents Release Horrific Video Of Teen Killed When U.S. Border Control Agents Urged Him To Drink Liquid Meth

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The U.S. government has refused to admit any wrong-doing.

The United States’ “War on Drugs” has claimed many victims (on both sides), but, following the release of a disturbing new video, there’s a raging debate online about whether or not U.S. Border Control agents were ultimately responsible for the death of a 16-year-old Mexican teenager who was transporting drugs across the border.

The incident originally occurred in 2013. Cruz Marcelino Velazquez from Tijuana, Mexico was stopped at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, California on November 18, 2013.

He was carrying two large bottles of liquid, which he claimed were filled with “juice.” (One bottle was labelled “black tea,” and the other, “apple juice.”)

The bottles were, in fact, filled with liquid methamphetamine, a toxic form of the well-known drug that has become increasingly popular with smugglers because it’s easier to transport.

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When customs officers noticed the bottles, they flagged Velazquez for inspection. After the results of an initial test on the liquid were inconclusive, Velazquez was moved to a secondary inspection area, where he continued to claim the liquid was juice.

RELATED: Do Drug Addicts Deserve To Die? Ohio City Plans To Refuse Life-Saving Medical Treatment After Second Overdose

This is where the incident occurred that has inspired outrage around the globe. The two border control agents at this inspection area, Valerie Baird and Adrian Perallon, decided to call Velazquez’s bluff

Baird encouraged him to drink from the bottles, according to reports. (There is no audio on the video, but Baird can be seen gesturing in a way that indicates she’s asking him to drink.)

So Velazquez took a sip. Seconds later in the video, Perallon seems to encourage him to take another, and, minutes later, both agents again gesture Velazquez to take more sips. (He drank the liquid two more times. The agents allege that Velazquez offered to drink from the bottles without their prompting.)

Within less than two hours, the 16-year-old was dead, due to a massive overdose from drinking a mixture that was, to quote ABC News, “one hundred times stronger than the typical dose of methamphetamine.”

The four-year-old incident was brought back into the limelight after Velazquez’s family recently released a video of their son being (what they call) “coerced” into drinking the mixture at the border. In the video, you can see Baird and Perallon smiling and laughing as they encourage the teenager to drink.

The video has attracted a great deal of outrage — from people around the globe and United States lawmakers — but it has also sparked a debate about exactly HOW culpable the border agents were in the teenager’s death.

Was this a case of a drug smuggler getting what was coming to him? Or did the border agents unnecessarily place the teen in danger (and ultimately kill him) by having him drink what they always suspected was liquid methamphetamine?

As you might expect, the public commentary on social networks like Twitter have been sharply divided:

Regardless of how you feel about the officers’ behavior, here are 6 tragic details we currently know about this developing story:

1. Velazquez’s family sued the U.S. government and won.

As the result of a wrongful-death lawsuit, the U.S. paid Velazquez’s family $1 million in damages. However, the lawyers for the two border control agents cited in the lawsuit — Baird and Perallon — claimed that their clients wanted a summary judgment on the case, but the government settled before that could happen.

It should be noted that, despite the settlement, the U.S. government has issued no apology or admission of wrong-doing related to the case.

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2. The two border control agents were not disciplined in any way for their role in Velazquez’s death.

According to a statement obtained by The Washington Post, which was released by a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, the agency investigated the incident and “determined that no further action was warranted and the officers involved were not disciplined.”

The two officers are both still working for Customs and Border Protection currently, and federal prosecutors have no plans to file charges against the agents or their agency.

3. Medical attention wasn’t obtained for Velazquez until it was too late.

Velazquez started feeling the effects of the liquid meth he ingested almost immediately, however, rather than calling for EMTs, the agents handcuffed the teenager and moved him to a security office.

Soon thereafter, the teenager began screaming, “Mi corazón! Mi corazón! My heart! My heart!”

In deposition transcripts, Baird was quoted as saying, “I remember putting my hand on him and just told him to, like, relax, calm down… I thought he was nervous that he was going to get caught.”

Perallon also stated, “When I was standing with him, he was telling me to hit him. He wanted me to hit him. And then he just said that he didn't want to die.”

An ambulance was called after Velazquez’s temperature and heart rate spiked and he lost the ability to stand. He lapsed into unconsciousness on the way to the hospital and died 30 minutes after arriving.

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4. Velazquez was considered a strong student with no previous criminal record.

Velazquez was a tenth-grade student in Tijuana, where he attended school and helped his grandmother run a local business. He was active in the life of his younger sister Reyna, who told ABC News, “He was kind of my dad, because since I was little he always helped me with homework, teach me sports, and everything he could.”

When he left home the night of his border crossing, he told his family he was headed to the gym.

RELATED: To The Man Who Chose Drugs Over Me

5. Liquid methamphetamine has become a BIG business.

In July 2017, a Texas woman was stopped at the border while travelling with her young daughter and babysitter. Police found over 75 pounds of liquid meth in her car, hidden in industrial cleaning product bottles, which had a street value of over 2 million dollars.

Liquid meth is made when regular methamphetamine is mixed with water, it becomes a solution, and, after transport, the water is boiled away, leaving the drug behind.

Velazquez’s hometown, Tijuana, is a major center for Mexican drug cartels. It is suspected that Velazquez was paid a few hundred dollars to transport the two bottles across the border, though there are suspicions that the teen may not have been a willing participant.

The cartels often gather information on a smuggling prospect’s family and remind the smuggler that, if anything goes wrong with the transport, their families may suffer the consequences (which may explain why Velazquez was so willing to drink the mixture at the border crossing).

6. Several government officials have denounced how the Customs and Border Protection treated Velazquez

There has been a considerable amount of public backlash surround the release of the new video showing how Velazquez died, but pointed criticism has also risen from a number of other sources.

Representative Juan Vargas of California told NPR, "What happened to Cruz Velazquez was absolutely horrible, and we must guarantee that something like this never happens again. I am requesting an immediate response from the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that proper training is put in place for Customs and Border Protection agents."

Representative Zoe Lofgren, a ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, has stated, “Drug smuggling is wrong and is a crime, but this teenage boy did not deserve a death sentence. For CBP officers to inflict a summary death sentence is not only immoral, but also illegal.”

Interestingly enough, James Tomsheck, the former head of internal affairs for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection — who was serving during the time of the 2013 incident — told ABC News that the officers definitely violated protocols and he was told that both agents would be punished. (Tomsheck has been a vocal critic of the agency since leaving it in 2014.)

The Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego has also denounced how Velazquez was treated, releasing a statement that read, "The Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego provided consular and legal assistance to Mr. Cruz Velazquez’s family since it learned about his death. This tragic incident highlights the need of greater transparency and accountability in immigration control activities."

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John Carlos Frey, the journalist and filmmaker who recently published his investigation into Velazquez’s death, in collaboration with ABC’s 20/20, had this to say about the case while talking with DemocracyNow.org:

“[The U.S. government is] adding another 5,000 Border Patrol agents and another 10,000 ICE agents. And they consider DHS and security at the border to be our front line of defense. We are bolstering, we are increasing the size of our force at the border with very little oversight and very little of a reprimand structure. These two agents involved in this particular incident on video were never reprimanded. They were on the job the very next day, even though they, themselves, did not follow their own procedure and there’s a 16-year-old boy who died. They were never taken off the force.”

Here is the full 20/20 documentary about the incident:

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