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3 men who refused to mule drugs tied to Nogales-area fence 'like piñatas'

Three men were found "tied up like piñatas" to the border fence west of Nogales early Friday morning, telling authorities that they refused to carry drugs for smugglers, said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada. 

The Nogales International reported that the men told authorities that they were on their way to scale the fence into the United States when they were approached by five armed men. 

"It’s just another one of those things that happens along the border,” Estrada told the Nogales International. "It never seems to surprise you." 

The men were asked to carry drugs, but they "bravely" refused, Estrada said. So they were tied to the border fence just inside Arizona. 

"The people they faced can be very dangerous and they control these routes," Estrada said. 

One of the men was able to use his cell phone and he called 911, reaching sheriff's deputies and Border Patrol agents, who responded and found the men tied to the fence near Potrero Canyon, west of the Mariposa Port of Entry. 

"They were lucky," Estrada said. "If this had happened during the day, they could have had a rough time." 

The three men were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents. 

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A spokeswoman at Border Patrol's Tucson Sector said that they were reviewing footage of the incident, and an investigation was ongoing. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

The International Boundary fence that separates Nogales, Ariz. from Nogales, Son.