Video Published Showing U.S. Border Officers Telling Mexican Teen to Suspicious Liquid that Killed him
In July, ABC published a surveillance video about three and a half years after Cruz Velazquez Acevedo’s death. The 16-year-old had just crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to San Diego and was going through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. According to court records, he was carrying two bottles of liquid that he claimed was apple juice. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told him to drink it to prove he wasn’t lying. The video shows the teen taking a sip of the liquid after one of the two officers, Valerie Baird, motioned for him to drink and then took another sip after the other officer, Adrian Perallon, made a gesture with his hand, appearing to tell him to drink more. Acevedo began convulsing shortly after he drank the liquid methamphetamine he’d brought with him from Tijuana, Mexico. Eugene Iredale, the attorney of Acevedo’s family, stated:
…He’s a 16-year-old boy with all the immaturity and bad judgment that might be characteristic of any 16-year-old kid. He was basically a good boy, he had no record, but he did something stupid. In any event, the worst that would’ve happened to him is that he would’ve been arrested and put in a juvenile facility for some period of time. It wasn’t a death penalty case. To cause him to die in a horrible way that he did is something that is execrable. It’s typical for people who are drug smugglers to approach kids and offer them $150 to smuggle drugs across the border. We’re never going to know in this case because Cruz died. He knows it’s something he shouldn’t be bringing.
Acevedo ended up taking four sips of the liquid, he began sweating profusely, he screamed and clenched his fists and, in a matter of minutes, his temperature soared to 105 degrees. His pulse reached an alarming rate of 220 beats per minute, more than twice the normal rate for adults. He died two hours later. The United States has since agreed to pay Acevedo’s family $1 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought against the two border officers and the U.S. government. A Customs and Border Protection spokesman said in a statement that the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigated the incident and “determined that no further action was warranted and the officers involved were not disciplined.”
What Acevedo did was definitely wrong, but he did not deserve to go through what he went through. What is shocking is that it took three and a half years for the video of the incident to become public. Hopefully, people can learn from Acevedo’s death and not try and smuggle illegal items into the United States. Hopefully, Customs and Border Protection officers will not ask people to ingest a questionable substance again.