A Mexican family has been awarded $1 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the U.S. government following the death 16-year-old Cruz Velazquez Acevedo at a southern border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana.
On November 18, 2013, Acevedo was attempting to smuggle liquid methamphetamine into the U.S., but was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers who found two bottles of the narcotic on his person. After claiming the liquid narcotic was apple juice, CBP officers told him to drink it to prove his claim.
Continuing with his lie, Acevedo drank the liquid methamphetamine; “four sips” according to The Washington Post. He began sweating profusely, and screaming “Mi corazón! Mi corazón!” (“My heart! My heart!”). Within minutes, he had a fever of 105 degrees and a heart rate of 220 beats per minute.
About two hours later, Acevedo was dead.
Cruz Velazquez Acevedo
The two CBP officers, Adrian Perallon and Valerie Baird, said in testimony they suspected the liquid on Acevedo’s person was not apple juice. Acevedo’s family’s complaint accused the two officers of having “coerced and intimidated” Acevedo into taking “a big sip.”
The Acevedo family’s complaint also alleged violations of constitutional rights, including the right to not be subjected to punishment without due process. It further accused government officials of inadequately training CBP officers.
Parallon and Baird remain employed by CBP.
Acevedo was described as “basically a good boy” by his family’s lawyer, Eugene Iredale. He described the CBP officers’ treatment of Acevedo as “the most inhuman kind of cruelty." He claimed Acevedo’s parents knew nothing of their son’s drug smuggling.
Iredale’s share of the $1 million judgment as payment for his legal services was not published. Iredale is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
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