Border agents recover remains of 7-year-old Indian national in 'rugged' Arizona desert

The body of a 7-year-old Indian girl was found in a remote desert area of Arizona on Wednesday -- the same day border agents say they were told human smugglers helped five Indian illegal immigrants cross into the U.S.

Border Patrol agents with the Tucson Sector recovered the remains of the young girl early Wednesday morning about 17 miles west of Lukeville, a town that sits on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Officials said Thursday agents encountered two women a day earlier who said they had traveled to the United States from India with another woman and two children. They were traveling through Mexico when human smugglers ordered them to cross the border in a “dangerous and austere location.”

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The women informed CBP the other members of their group had become separated at some point.

After the women were taken into custody, agents and local law enforcement searched a remote area about seven miles west of Quitobaquito Springs where they recovered the remains of the 7-year-old.

This map shows the area in Quitobaquito Springs where the remains of a 7-year-old Indian national were recovered. It is about 17 miles west of where she, and four other illegal immigrants, crossed into the U.S. with the help of human smugglers. 

This map shows the area in Quitobaquito Springs where the remains of a 7-year-old Indian national were recovered. It is about 17 miles west of where she, and four other illegal immigrants, crossed into the U.S. with the help of human smugglers.  (U.S. Customs Border and Protection )

With two other members of the group still missing, officials called in aerial support from the National Guard and CBP Air and Marine Operations.

Late Wednesday night, ground units discovered footprints that indicated the other two migrants likely crossed back into Mexico.

A topographic map of the Quitobaquito Springs area. 

A topographic map of the Quitobaquito Springs area.  (Google)

CBP described the terrain where the young girl was found as “rugged desert wilderness” and said anyone there would have “little to no resources.” Temperatures were around 108 degrees on the day the girl is believed to have died.

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“Our sympathies are with this little girl and her family,” Tucson Chief Patrol Agent Roy Villareal said in a press release. “This is a senseless death driven by cartels who are profiting from putting lives at risk."

Authorities in Mexico have continued to search their side of the border for the other two group members but have yet to locate them.