Lawyers Say Troubling Video of Teen Drinking Fatal Liquid Meth Resulted From Border Patrol Agents' Tactics Backfiring

Lawyers Say Troubling Video of Teen Drinking Fatal Liquid Meth Resulted From Border Patrol Agents' Tactics Backfiring

Cruz Marcelino Velazquez Acevedo's family says U.S. Customs officials are responsible for his death.

Published August 1, 2017

Recently released surveillance video shows a Tijuana teenager drink liquid methamphetamine in front of two onlooking U.S. Customs and Border officials just moments before his death, reported NBC 7 News.

Cruz Marcelino Velazquez Acevedo, 16, of Tijuana, was stopped by federal officials after he entered the U.S. from Mexico through the San Ysidro Port of Entry on November 18, 2013. In Velazquez’s backpack were two bottles filled with an amber-colored liquid. When agents asked what was in the bottles, the teen told them the bottles contained juice.

Velazquez was then taken to a secondary inspection area where he was again asked what was in the bottles. He again claimed the bottles carried juice, although the agents believed he was carrying an illegal substance.

In surveillance video, made available by attorney Eugene Iredale, Velazquez takes several sips of the liquid. Iredale, who represents the teen’s family, argued that the teen was forced to drink the lethal substance by the border officers, although a previous medical examiner report said Velazquez voluntarily took a sip.

"It's true that Cruz was doing something that was against the law. And that he did not have to be doing. That's a fact," Iredale told NBC 7. "It's also true that they did not point their guns at him or physically threaten him but in a social context in which this occurred, they knew exactly what they were doing."

After a K-9 alerted agents that Velazquez had controlled substances, agents handcuffed Velazquez and took him into custody. Once he was in custody the teen began sweating profusely, "screaming in pain and clenching his fists," according to the suit.

In the lawsuit, the family alleged that Velazquez began yelling, "the chemicals," in Spanish and then, "Mi corazon! Mi corazon!" or "My heart! My heart!" The suit also alleged that the teen began to seize and convulse uncontrollably.

Agents then called paramedics, who sedated the teen and transported him to Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in California.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital several hours later, according to the medical examiner. Three years after his death, the family received a $1 million settlement, according to court documents.

The agents involved in the case, Valerie Baird and Adrian Perallon, remained with the CBP in San Diego.

Another attorney, Alex Ozols, explained that a Supreme Court case has set a precedent that allows for officers to use certain tactics to get a confession from suspects.

"What happened here, it looks like their tactic backfired," Ozols told NBC. "They expected this individual to say, hey there are drugs in here. I'm not going to drink it. He did start to drink it and that created a problem."

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Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: ABC News)

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