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CBP investigating reports of agents trashing aid packages left for migrants

Humanitarian volunteers say Border Patrol agents destroyed supplies that groups left for migrants in an Otay Mountain trail.

SAN DIEGO — Volunteers from Borderlands Relief Collective hiked the steep rocks down an Otay Mountain trail.

They left crates full of water, canned food and first aid supplies behind for migrants. Only to find out an hour after that those supplies would be sabotaged. 

“All the water bottles were poured out. The trash was just lying around everywhere all the Gatorade we left were open. all the cans of food were opened,” said Kasia Kanitz, a volunteer with the organization. 

Kanitz and other volunteers who were on the hike said once they noticed all the supplies were trashed they remembered they had only seen a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle in the area. 

They believe border patrol agents were responsible for the destruction. They even captured video footage of them confronting the two agents.

In the video, it showed unidentified agents admitted to touching the supplies saying it's part of their job to help clean it up.

“There were five agents trying to intimidate us into backing down or stop asking them and trying to pinpoint why they do this and why they destroy this aid,” said Emmet Norris, who is also a volunteer with Borderlands Relief Collective. 

Water drops have been common among humanitarian volunteers to help migrant families. As many continue to walk through treacherous terrain with no supplies.

“The job of border patrol is to enforce the laws put forward, the job of border patrol is not to sabotage border relief supplies,” said David Yu Greenblatt.

In similar incidents volunteers have captured agents destroying supplies left for migrants along the border.

CBS 8 reached out to customs and border protection about the recent incident and asked why border agents would sabotage food supplies left for migrants. 

In a written statement they CBS 8: 

USBP leadership within the San Diego Sector has emphasized to agents that they are not to remove or destroy water stations, food or other humanitarian aid left along trails within the Otay Mountain Wilderness. The San Diego Sector shares a common goal with non-governmental organizations to preserve human life and to prevent injury. 

We do not condone or encourage the destruction of or tampering with any water or food caches. Anyone aware of these activities is encouraged to immediately report them to the Border Patrol. Border Patrol has invested in programs, resources, and infrastructure to allow agents to accomplish their border security mission and preserve human life. Unfortunately, most who choose to enter the U.S. unlawfully are unprepared for the harsh environment and life-threatening dangers they will face. 

The border area within the Otay Mountain Wilderness has had reports of migrants being threatened, robbed, and beaten by the criminal organizations that operate along these trails. San Diego Sector advises anyone in need of assistance, or any person who encounters someone in distress, to call 9-1-1 or activate a rescue beacon.San Diego Sector Border Patrol works with our local law enforcement partners, and coordinates with NGOs and foreign governments, to locate and recover missing migrants through various means using the Missing Migrant Program. NGOs that plan to leave humanitarian supplies along the trails should contact San Diego Sector Border Patrol.

They also added that CBP’s office of professional responsibility has started an investigation.

WATCH RELATED: US Customs and Border Protection release mid-year statistics (March 2023).


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