'She was raped by the leader'; Migrant woman kidnapped, attacked in Tumacacori Mtns.
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Jul. 9, 2013
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - It's a horrifying story out of Santa Cruz County.
Authorities there say a young woman was kidnapped at gunpoint, repeatedly raped, and held in the desert for days.
What's even more terrifying, experts say, is that her tale is all too common.
Deep in the Tumacacori mountains, terror struck.
"Ten individuals, males, armed with long rifles and guns and with ski masks approached them, confronted them," said Sheriff Tony Estrada.
He says the 22 year-old Guatemalan native had just crossed the US-Mexico border illegally late last month.
She and half a dozen other migrants were tucked away in a cave, when the men in masks attacked and plucked her as their special prize.
"She was raped once by who she suspected was the leader because he was giving all the orders," said Sheriff Estrada.
He says the group held her captive in those mountains for the next six days, calling her family for ransom and raping her at least once more.
"That's how vulnerable they become in these areas of Santa Cruz County," said Sheriff Estrada.
He says this case, while particularly brutal, marks the county's third sexual assault of a migrant for 2013.
"A lot of people take it as a fact of life," said Juanita Molina executive director of the Border Action Network.
She says this is only the third that we know of.
"Here on the US side if someone is undocumented, the last thing they want to do is call law enforcement," said Molina. "I mean there are people who, in preparation, start taking contraceptives and know that it's a distinct possibility in crossing."
And reporting those assaults often points the victim down the road to deportation, a fate that may lie ahead for our victim as authorities comb the treacherous terrain for her small army of attackers.
Sheriff Estrada says the woman in this story, whose name they are not releasing, only escaped her captors when a helicopter circled overhead, and everyone scattered.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff is investigating with U.S. Customs & Border Protection.