The body of a man whose throat had been slit and left inside a plastic bag found just north of the border last month near Lukeville had been dragged from Mexico, reports show.
The man's neck had been sliced open on the left side, from front to back, severing the carotid artery and jugular vein, according to investigative reports released Wednesday by the Pima County Sheriff's Department in response to a public-records request by the Arizona Daily Star.
The wound would have incapacitated the man within minutes, resulting in death shortly after, the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office pathologist who performed the autopsy said in a report.
Investigators believe the man, thought to be in his 50s, is a Mexican national, but he remains unidentified, said Dawn Barkman, Pima County sheriff's spokeswoman.
Officials have sent his fingerprints to Mexican officials and are awaiting to see if they find a match in their databases. A check of the U.S. national fingerprint database and the Department of Homeland Security's database revealed no matches, she said. "Finding out who he is is crucial," Barkman said.
The body was discovered on the morning of July 4 by a Border Patrol agent driving along the border road about six miles west of Lukeville in southwestern Arizona, reports show. The agent was looking for footprints that would signal illegal crossings along the dirt road when he spotted what he thought was a trash bag about 20 feet north of the border.
The agent lifted the black plastic bag with a stick and discovered a body covered in blood. He called in Pima County Sheriff's Department homicide unit.
The body appeared to have been dragged about 28 feet into Arizona under a border vehicle barrier and across a dirt road before it was left in a pile of brush and small trees, the report shows.
There was a spattering of blood under the vehicle barrier where he had been dragged, the reports show. Vehicle barriers are waist- to chest-high and are designed to stop cars.
The man was wearing Levi's jeans and a button-up striped shirt that was tied up to show his stomach, the reports show. Investigators found a 10-inch-long kitchen knife lying next to and touching his body.
This is the second time in the last two years that a body has been dumped on the U.S. side of the border west of Lukeville on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, said Organ Pipe Superintendent Lee Baiza. The other victim was found farther west, killed by gunfire.
Mexican Highway 2 runs parallel to the border west of Sonoyta, Sonora, providing easy access to the area. Sonoyta is across the border from Lukeville.
Like other northern Mexican border cities, Sonoyta has been a battleground for rival cartels vying for valuable territory to move people and drugs, making killing commonplace.
In January 2009, Arizona Department of Public Safety received a tip that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, had recently been at a ranch near Sonoyta. The email said that El Chapo arrived with a "large entourage" of his cartel members.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org