Surveillance video shows a Mexican teenager drinking liquid meth in front of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to prove he was not trying to smuggle in illegal drugs, but the drugs led to his death hours later.
Cruz Marcelino Velazquez Acevedo, 16, was attempting to enter the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in November 2013 when border officials stopped him, surveillance video showed, according to NBC Los Angeles.
The agents took two bottles out of the Tijuana teenager’s backpack and asked what it was. Velazquez said the bottles, which contained a dark yellow-colored liquid, were holding juice. The teenager drank from the bottle after he was apparently asked by the agents to prove that the liquid was only juice.
Velazquez moved on to a secondary inspection where the teen was asked to drink from bottles again to prove it was not a controlled substance. The teenager took four sips of the drug-fueled beverage. A drug-sniffing K-9 was brought over and smelled the illegal drug. Velazquez was handcuffed and taken into custody.
A short time later, Velazquez was “screaming in pain and clenching his fist,” according to NBC Los Angeles. Velazquez was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a few hours later. Valerie Baird and Adrian Perallon, the two agents who asked Velazquez to drink the substance were not punished and have remained employed, according to ABC News.
Velazquez’s family sued the agency and the two officers claiming their requests led to the teenager’s death. The suit also claimed agents "coerced and intimidated Cruz into taking a big sip from one of the bottles.”
“It’s true that Cruz was doing something that was against the law,” Gene Iredale, a family attorney who released stills from the video, said. “It’s also true that they did not point their guns at him or physically threaten him but in a social context in which this occurred, they knew exactly what they were doing.”
Velazquez’s family settled the suit in 2016 and received $1 million from the U.S. government.