SAN DIEGO, Ca. (WFLA) – Newly released surveillance video is shedding light on a tragic incident at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The video shows two border patrol officers who appear to be encouraging a Mexican teenager to drink liquid methamphetamine. The teen died two hours later.
Cruz Marecelino Velazquez Acevedo, 16, of Tijuana was stopped and questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers Valerie Baird and Adrian Perallon in November 2013 after he entered the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Velasquez was carrying a backpack containing two bottles of an amber-colored liquid, which later tested positive for methamphetamine. The agents took the bottles out of his backpack and asked what it was. Velasquez told the agents it was “liquid juice.”
In the video, it seems the two officers are gesturing for the teen to drink from the bottle to prove he wasn’t carrying a controlled substance. He takes a sip.
Velasquez then moves on to a second inspection where he is asked to drink from the bottles again. He hesitates for a moment, then takes two drinks from one bottle, and then another two drinks from the second bottle as the officers smile. Then a drug-sniffing K-9 approaches the teenager and detected the drug.
Velasquez was detained shortly after was later seen “screaming in pain and clenching his fist,” according to NBC Los Angeles. He was transported to the hospital and died from heart failure two hours after he was stopped.
A lawsuit filed by the teenager’s family claims the agents “coerced and intimidated Cruz into taking a big sip from one of the bottles.” A previous Medical Examiner report said Velazquez voluntarily took a sip.
“It’s true that Cruz was doing something that was against the law. And that he did not have to be doing. That’s a fact,” Gene Iredale, a family attorney told NBC San Diego. “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.”
Both Baird and Perallon have not been punished and remain employed, according to ABC News.