A government surveillance video obtained by ABC News has shed new light on a tragic incident at the U.S.-Mexico border, sparking outrage from members of Congress who help oversee U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The video shows that in 2013 two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers appeared to encourage, or at least permit, a 16-year-old Mexican high school student to drink from a bottle that tests would later reveal contained concentrated liquid methamphetamine.
The young man, Cruz Velazquez, died within two hours of drinking the substance, but the two officers involved, Valerie Baird and Adrian Perallon, remain on the job today, with no disciplinary action taken against them.
A former head of internal affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, James Tomsheck, told ABC News the two officers violated agency protocols by allowing the young man to drink from the bottle, and that he was told at the time they would be punished.
“If they truly suspected there was a controlled substance in the bottle,” Tomsheck said, “they should’ve conducted a field test.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California and the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, condemned the officers’ conduct.
“Drug smuggling is wrong and is a crime, but this teenage boy did not deserve a death sentence,” Lofgren told ABC News. “For CBP officers to inflict a summary death sentence is not only immoral, but also illegal.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Missouri and the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, echoed those sentiments.
“In order for CBP officers to prevent smuggling, ensure public safety, and do their difficult job at the border properly, CBP must have the appropriate protocols in place and officers must follow them,” Thompson told ABC News. “While there is no excuse for attempting to bring illicit substances into the country, it is absolutely clear from the video that there were…