CALEXICO, California -- U.S. Border Patrol cameras captured the moments when a smuggler scaled a portion of border wall with a 7-year-old child on his back. The smuggler abandoned the child before agents arrived, according to ABC-7's sister-station KESQ in southern California.
The incident occurred Tuesday morning. That's when the El Centro Station's surveillance system operators spotted a man with a small child clinging to his back on a rope ladder on top of the 30-foot U.S.-Mexico border fence. The man was lowering the small child down the fence into U.S. soil.
Border agents saw the situation but said they decided to wait for the child to be put safely on the ground out of caution. Agents said they were concerned that the smuggler might panic and drop the child, possibly resulting in serious injury or death given the height of the border wall.
After the child was placed on the ground, the smuggler instructed the child to walk north then made his way back to the Mexico side of the fence.
The small child, identified as a 7-year-old from El Salvador, was found about 50 feet north of the U.S.-Mexico border and two miles west of the Calexico port of entry.
The child was given a welfare check by agents before being escorted back to their vehicle. She was transported to the El Centro Sector Processing Center to be medically evaluated and processed accordingly.
“No one, let alone a child of any age or race, should be exposed to the multitude of dangers when crossing illegally into this country,” said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory Bovino. “Smugglers will always view children as a commodity to gain a profit, disregarding the safety and well-being of any individual except their own.”