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Federal prosecutors drop charges against 4 No More Deaths volunteers

Note: This story is more than 3 years old.

Federal prosecutors drop charges against 4 No More Deaths volunteers

  • Volunteers with No More Deaths pass a cross for those who have died in the Arivaca corridor.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comVolunteers with No More Deaths pass a cross for those who have died in the Arivaca corridor.

Federal prosecutors announced during a hearing Thursday that they are dropping misdemeanor charges against four No More Deaths volunteers for their work in a remote wildlife refuge in Arizona. 

The four volunteers, Caitlin Persis Deighan, Zoe E. Anderson, Logan Thomas Hollarsmith, and Rebecca Katie Grossman-Richeimer were cited for entering the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a 860,000-acre refuge in southwest Arizona that has become an increasingly dangerous corridor for migrants crossing the deserts. 

Prosecutors instead agreed to issue civil infractions, each carrying a fine of $250 each. 

This ends the cases filed against all but one volunteer for the humanitarian aid gruop, who still faces both misdemeanor charges and a federal charge of harboring illegal aliens stemming from his work at the "Barn," a small building used by volunteers as a staging area for their work in Ajo, Ariz. 

Scott Warren will go to trial in May of this year. 

In January, four other volunteers went to trial, and were each convicted of federal misdemeanors by U.S. District Judge Bernardo Velasco. Sentencing is set for March 1, and they face possible prison time and a $15,000 fine. 

On July 19, 2017, the four volunteers who saw their charges dropped Thursday entered the wildlife refuge, after the group said that they received a call to their hotline that three migrants were in distress. No More Deaths volunteers said they contacted Border Patrol agents and the Pima County Sheriff's Department, but the agencies, "declined to mobilize resources to respond," so instead, the four humanitarian aid workers decided to go to the refuge and search. 

After searching for several hours, they were stopped and detained by an official with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and later Border Patrol agents. 

In December 2017, all four charged with federal misdemeanors. 

Deighan was charged with operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area and entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit. Anderson, Hollarsmith, and Grossman-Richeimer were cited for entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit. 

"Today might be a victory for No More Deaths, but people continue to die and disappear every day in the desert,"  said Hollarsmith. "Our hearts remain with the families of the disappeared. As long as border policy funnels migrants into the most remote corridors of the desert, the need for a humanitarian response will continue." 

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