The US-Mexico border has a lot of issues. Not just in terms of immigration and illegal passage. Even legal residents and valid custom checks can go wrong.

The legal standing of cases in Mexico differs significantly from what has legal standing in the US. One such problem is with controlled substances.

Things legal, or at least easily obtainable, in one country may be contraband in the other. Therefore, border patrol must work to control the flow of these substances into the US so they can’t be sold or spread on US soil.

And when people get caught, they have two options: take the penalty for breaking the law or get rid of the drugs the fastest way they can.

Unfortunately, Cruz Marcelino Velazquez Acevedo took the second route. He got caught with a substance he claimed was “just apple juice.” But the border check disagreed, and so did their drug-sniffing dogs.

Rather than being seen, Cruz drank his juice and suffered immediate consequences, unfortunately leading to his death.

This case opened up controversy around the use of tactics by the border patrol, the availability of substance abuse, and the troubles at the border again.

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10 /10 A Teen from Tijuana

Velazquez was only 16 years old, just a high school student from Tijuana, Mexico. He had no prior criminal record or outstanding incidents to his name.

He wasn’t a career criminal, and perhaps, he may have been involved with the wrong crowd.

And he was left undereducated about drugs, enough to take a lethal quantity of them to throw authorities off his back when pushed into a corner. Unfortunately, he died at 16 due to his actions’ complications.

9 /10 Muling

It was alleged that Velazquez was offered money to bring the illegal substance across the border and to hide them on his person as apple juice.

However, the sense in clear plastic bottles with no markers was caught by drug-sniffing dogs employed by the border agents.

He was doing “muling,” acting as a carrier or “mule” to bring drugs across the border from where they are made to where they can be processed or sold. It was believed he would earn just $100 for this dangerous act.

8 /10 Liquid Meth

The substance Velazquez drank was methamphetamine in its liquid form.

Meth, most commonly distributed as “crystal meth” in a solid state, can be made as a liquid before being processed into the much better-known smoking form. It is highly concentrated as a liquid and has an amber-like color.





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7 /10 Dared To Act

When crossing the border, a few things are needed. One is the legal right of passage, commonly from a passport or border card, which allows selection and tenancy for a limited time.

Velazquez had a border card, and he had a reason to stay temporarily: he was visiting an uncle. Or so he claimed. The reality was that he was bringing drugs over.

Once caught, he was detained, and the border agents demanded to know what was in the bottles. They asked him to prove it was a juice by drinking it.

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6 /10 Overdosed

The cause of Velazquez’s death was heart failure due to an overdose of drugs. The reason it happened was revealed to be pressure.

The border agents had every reasonable right to believe that he was handling drugs but could not act legally without a confession or further testing.

When they asked him to drink the liquid, they expected him to confess or refuse, which would have led them to make further investigations.

Instead, Velazquez drank. He drank a small amount, only a few ounces, but it was lethal nonetheless.

5 /10 Aftermath

The date of this incident was November 18, 2013. The teen’s death was reported by the Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, which took him in.

He was dead when he arrived after complaining about his heart hurting just moments after taking the sips of the liquid. The family pursued legal action.

After just over three years of legal battling, in 2017, the family agreed to a settlement of $1 million, paid by the federal government through the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

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4 /10 Video Footage

Recorded footage of the incident, including the border agents telling the boy to drink, was circulated, which also showed when Velazquez began convulsing and going into an involuntary panic as the drugs entered his system and started to kill him rapidly.

The officers involved confessed to their roles, as shown, that they did indeed tempt him to do it, thinking that he would not, and failed to act immediately to flush it from his system or provide direct medical aide.

3 /10 CBP Response

The Customs and Border Protection was approached for commentary on the matter and how the officers were meant to respond. Their behavior was viewed as unprofessional but not deliberate.

They returned to employment at some level, and the CBP began an internal review of the procedures’ policies to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen again hopefully.

2 /10 Back And Forth

Although the case is settled now, some disputed testimony came about from the officers involved. One claimed that he did not invite the boy to drink but responded to Velazquez’s request to drink to prove it was confirmed as if it was the boy’s idea, which he then approved.

The two guards denied pressuring the teen to drink but claimed the other guard made the first suggestion when testifying.

They were not directly charged as their actions did not cross the lines of “qualified immunity” to prove incompetence or willful violation of the law.

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1 /10 It Doesn't Get Better

This incident was just one of many unfortunate cases of drug mules not just being caught but persisting in crossing the border at significant risk of legal action and even harm.

The problem worsens with each significant push against the wall as more drugs flowing in from unexpected sources.

It proves that anyone could have anything, and the safest thing to do is to leave it behind if you don’t want to get caught with it. 

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