Arizona Sheriff Shares Photos of Human Skull, Bones in Warning to Migrants

An Arizona county sheriff's office has shared "disturbing" photos of a human skull and bones found close to the border with Mexico.

Sheriff Mark Lamb, of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, said the remains were found near to other items, including a flask and gloves, that suggested the deceased may have been attempting to cross the border into the United States.

He said the circumstances surrounding the death were likely to remain a mystery but that dehydration was one possible cause.

According to Humane Borders, migrant deaths in Arizona reached a seven-year high last year. The group said remains of more than 200 migrants were found in the Arizona desert in 2020, the most since 2013.

Rising death numbers have been linked to former President Donald Trump's border security policies, which critics said pushed migrants to use riskier routes.

Harsh weather in 2020 and COVID-19 health restrictions were also blamed.

Tucson and Phoenix had their hottest summers on record last year while 2020 was also one of Arizona's driest.

Posting the photos from Pinal County on Facebook, Sheriff Lamb said: "While these images may be disturbing, this is the reality at our southern border, and in Pinal County. We feel it is important for you to see them as you consider the current situation.

"PCSO deputies were called to the area southwest of Sunland Gin Rd. and Harmon Rd. earlier this month after a resident located human bones in the desert.

"The remains were located near black water jugs, backpacks, and camouflage clothing, indicating a smuggling route."

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He added: "We may never know this person's cause of death, but injury, violence or dehydration are all possible.

"While this individual likely died some time ago, there are likely many more people out in the Arizona desert at this very moment facing a similar fate.

"My deputies will surely find more remains like this before the year is over. If you care about human life, you should care about border security."

Sophie Smith, a co-founder of the humanitarian organization People Helping People, previously warned that drinking water available to migrants was often unsafe.

"There are few to no water sources out here," she said. "The water sources that do exist are usually cattle ponds for ranchers out here and are contaminated, so it's really common for people to drink water that's dirty to survive."

The U.S.-Mexico border area sees crime linked to smuggling gangs and other criminal networks. Earlier this year, burned and bullet-ridden bodies were found in two vehicles .

They were recovered along a dirt road in Santa Anita, outside Camargo, after residents reported a burning vehicle across the Rio Grande from Texas in January.

Officers arrived to find two abandoned pick-up trucks on fire, with one containing four bodies and the other 15, the Tamaulipas Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

Investigators said they believed the victims had been shot before they were set on fire.

Human remains Arizona
Human remains found by police in Arizona. The local sheriff said they were located near water jugs, backpacks and camouflage clothing, indicating a smuggling route. Pinal County Sheriff's Office