Officials say late in the day on Wednesday, Tucson Sector Border Patrol and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office (SCCSO) received 9-1-1 calls from one of the men, who managed to contact their number and ask for assistance. SCCSO coordinated efforts with a Department of Public Safety (DPS) aircrew who spotted the group on the mountain south of Tucson just after 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning, but had to postpone rescue operations until dawn as conditions worsened during the night.
At daybreak, CBP said agents at the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue team hiked to reach the stranded group. When they arrived, agents performed a medical check on the five men to stabilize their conditions and determined they weren’t fit enough to walk back to safety.
"All five men, three Honduran nationals and two Mexican nationals illegally present in the country, were exhausted and had injuries caused by the snow and freezing temperatures to their extremities," said CBP.
With the five men in no condition to walk, agents called for a helicopter to airlift them off the mountain, according to the release. They were taken to a nearby road where medical personnel from the Green Valley Fire District drove them to a hospital.
CBP said the men will be processed for immigration violations once their physical conditions improve.