Teen Told To Drink Liquid Meth By Border Agents, Video Shows

By Keri Blakinger 08/01/17

The three-year-old case is making headlines after disturbing footage of the event recently went public.

 border patrol officer standing by his vehicle

First he took one sip. Then two. Then three. 

Finally, he took a fourth sip. He started sweating. His pulse raced. He screamed: “My heart!” 

In under two hours, he was dead. 

That was in 2013. But just last week, the story took a shocking turn when footage emerged showing Border Patrol agents apparently urging the 16-year-old Mexican boy to drink from the containers of liquid meth he was trying to sneak into the U.S.

“What you see, I think, is a basic lack of compassion and decency toward a 16-year-old boy,” Gene Iredale, a lawyer for the dead teen’s family, told ABC News. “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.”

Family described Tijuana teen Cruz Velazquez Acevedo as a typical high schooler who enjoyed sports. But it may have been a new group of friends or the allure of quick cash that prompted him to make a risky trip north. 

And so Velazquez left his grandmother’s house one November evening, carrying a bag with two bottles of concentrated liquid methamphetamine. He told his family he was headed to the gym—but instead the teen trekked to the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the border’s busiest land crossing.

He told his family he’d be back soon, but hit a snag when an officer at the border referred him for secondary inspection. There, two relatively new officers took issue with the bottles they say Velazquez called “juice.” 

But instead of using a testing kit to confirm their suspicions, the pair gestured for Velazquez to drink from the toxic bottles—repeatedly. The officers smiled knowingly at one another as the taste test continued, but eventually they took the teen into custody after a drug dog raised an alarm about the presence of narcotics.

“He was basically a good boy, he had no record, but he did something stupid,” Iredale later told the Washington Post. “It wasn’t a death penalty case. To cause him to die in a horrible way that he did is something that is execrable.”

Ultimately, federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against the officers involved, who both denied any wrongdoing under oath.

By the time the video became public, the teen’s family had already accepted a $1 million settlement from a wrongful death suit. But the family has yet to receive an apology—and a Border Patrol spokesperson confirmed the agency’s internal investigation found no cause to discipline the officers.

“How can the government allow that? It’s like, OK you can kill someone,” his sister Reyna said. “They took him as a fool, as who cares. Well, that fool, he was the greatest person I ever knew.”

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.