The body of a 7-year-old girl was found Wednesday about 17 miles west of Lukeville, in a remote desert area, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
Officials believe the child was from India trying to cross from Mexico into the United States with a group from that country, according to the agency.
Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents spoke with two women from India, who said they had been separated from three other people trying to come to the United States with them: a woman and two children, according to a CBP news release issued Thursday.
Border Patrol agents believe human smugglers dropped the group near the Mexico border, where they were told to cross the terrain into Arizona alone, the agency said.
Agents searched for the missing people north of the border in remote terrain about seven miles west of Quitobaquito Springs. They eventually found the little girl’s body after a few hours, officials said.
The remote area where she was found is a rugged desert wilderness with few roads and resources. The area had a high temperature around 108 degrees Wednesday, officials said.
After agents found the girl’s body, they continued to search for the other two people who had been traveling with her, the release said.
The National Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent out aircraft and helicopters to search the area. In addition, agents from the Bureau of Land Management, Ajo Border Patrol Station and Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue Unit searched from the ground.
Searchers found footprints that suggest the woman and child returned to Mexico; they’re continuing the search with Mexican authorities.
As of Thursday afternoon, additional members of the group had not been found in the United States or Mexico. The investigation is ongoing.
By Serena O’Sullivan for AZ CENTRAL
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