7 men found dead, tortured on Sonora ranch near Az-Mexico border
Mexican authorities released the identity Friday of one of the seven men found dead, including one who was decapitated, in a wash on a Sonoran ranch near the Arizona-Mexico border.
The bodies were found at Rancho La Sierrita, just across the U.S.-Mexico border in a remote area about eight miles southwest of San Miguel on the Tohono O'odham Nation, about 100 miles southwest of Tucson.
Cipriano Obeso Berrelleza, 38, was identified by family members, said Sonora reporter Rafael Pineda.
Originally from Caborca, Son., Berrelleza had been arrested three times in the United States for drug trafficking, authorities told Pineda.
His family last had contact with him on Oct. 17 and reported him missing four days later on Oct. 21.
Officials said that the men were shot, and spent shells from an assault rifle were found at the scene.
Citing police officials, Pineda said that all seven bodies had been in the wash for five days and were severely decomposed. Signs of torture were evident, he said.
The ranch is about 500 feet from the national boundary, and is known as a staging ground for people attempting to cross the border into the United States.
The remains will be transferred to a nearby funeral home, where the men can be identified by family members, Pineda said, posting on a Spanish-language Facebook page.
In 2014, Mexican officials raided the ranch, rescuing 40 people from Mexico and Central America and arresting four people, including a man allegedly in charge of managing the ranch and collecting payments from smugglers.
A helicopter flying in support of the raid accidentally crossed into the United States, and two Border Patrol agents reported that two shots were fired from the aircraft.
According to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agents on the ground said the shots were not aimed at them, and when they signaled the helicopter, the aircraft returned to Mexico.
During a press conference in Mexico, the chief of the Criminal Investigation Agency told reporters that during the summer, up to 400 immigrants per day would assemble there, after paying smugglers $7,000 to cross.
In 2013, a man whose throat had been cut was found by U.S. Border Patrol agents south of Vamori on the Tohono O'odham Nation, in the vicinity of Rancho La Sierrita.
Two other bodies were found just on the other side of the fence by Mexican officials in that same incident.