In 2013, two US Customs and Border Protection officers watched a Mexican high school student, Cruz Velazquez, drink from a bottle that contained concentrated liquid methamphetamine. Velazquez died within two hours of consuming the fatal substance, but the two officers who appear to have encouraged (or at least allowed him) to drink the mixture have faced virtually no consequences for their actions.
Read on to learn more about Cruz Velazquez.
1. Cruz Allegedly Told the Officers That the Bottles Contained Apple Juice
According to a lawsuit obtained by the San Diego Tribune in March, Cruz initially told border protection members that the liquid was apple juice he’d purchased in Mexico.
The lawsuit, which alleged wrongful death, assault and batter, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, specifically stated that the “the two agents told [the] young man to drink the liquid to prove to them that it was fruit juice and not a drug.”
2. The Two Officers Violated Agency Protocols
Former head of internal affairs at US Customs and Border Protection, James Tomsheck, tells ABC News that the two officers involved in the incident violated agency protocols when they allowed the young man to drink from the liquid.
Tomsheck also tells the outlet that he was told the two border protection officers would be punished. “If they truly suspected there was a controlled substance in the bottle, they should’ve conducted a field test.”
3. The Velazquez Family Filed a Civil Lawsuit Against the Officers
The family of Cruz Velazquez filed a civil lawsuit against the customs officers and the agency, saying that their actions led to the 16-year-old’s death.
The attorney who represented the family, Gene Iredale, subsequently released a statement that read:
What you see, I think, is a basic lack of compassion and decency toward a 16-year-old boy. Almost a delight that you would see in children who just pull the wings off flies slowly, a smile when he’s being asked to drink something and being put in this position.
According to ABC, the official report claimed that the incident was an “accident”– one of the officers, Officer Perallon, said that Cruz “volunteered” to take a drink of the liquid, himself.
4. Cruz Had No Prior Record at the Time of the Incident
At the time of the incident, Cruz had no prior record.
The Velazquez family lawyer, Eugene Iredale, told the Post at the time, “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.”
Iredale later added that Cruz’s parents did not know why he was attempting to bring meth into the US, but Iredale “did suspect professional smugglers might have had something to do with it.”
5. The Velazquez Has Received $1 Million From the Government to Settle the Lawsuit
In early 2017, the US government paid the Velazquez family $1 million to settle the lawsuit.
ABC News writes, “There was no apology or admission of wrongdoing, and both officers testified that they never received a reprimand for their conduct, a fact that still angers members of Velazquez’s family.”
Speaking to the outlet, Reyna Velazquez, Cruz’s sister, said, “How can the government allow that? It’s like, OK you can kill someone… They took him as a fool, as who cares. Well, that fool, he was the greatest person I ever knew.”