Doña Ana County



The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department, working in conjunction with the U.S. Border Patrol, is investigating the death of a Mexican national whose body was found Saturday in the desert area north of Las Cruces, west of N.M. 185.

Beeatriz Sanchez Nicholas (unusual spelling authenticated), 27, of Juarez, Mexico, was found dead at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Police were led to the woman’s body by her husband, who said they were traveling with a group led by two guides, who left them behind when the woman began to exhibit signs of heat exhaustion.

Investigators said the man told them that he found a nearby cattle tank and attempted to revive his wife during the night of May 19. On the morning of the 20th, he set out for help and flagged down Border Patrol agents patrolling the area. By the time they returned to the site where the husband had left his wife under shade, she was already dead.

Sheriff’s investigators believe the guides were amateur people-traffickers operating in desolate desert areas to evade the Border Patrol checkpoint south of Hatch. Sheriff Todd Garrison said human trafficking is a problem in this area, and this is the second documented death of a Mexican woman in the same area in the last three years. Garrison said his officers also are working against the clock with Luna County officials to find another missing person, whose case may be similar to that of Nicholas.

Garrison said anyone who spends time in the desert should have plentiful water and should avoid the hottest parts of the day. Signs of heat exhaustion include delusions, hallucinations, rapid loss of bodily fluids and then a pronounced lack of sweat. Death can occur within hours of the onset of these symptoms.

“Trafficking human beings through the desert is a crime that can have deadly consequences,” Garrison said. He said he encourages anyone with information on these cases or on other suspected human-trafficking operations to immediately call the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department at (505) 525-1911.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 525-5801.