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US citizen arrested by Border Patrol dies in custody

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection patch on the uniform of Rodolfo Karisch, Rio Grande Valley sector chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol, as he testifies during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on migration on the Southern U.S Border on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, lawmakers questioned witnesses about child mentions, minor reunification, and illegal drug seizures on the Southern Border. (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

BRACKETTVILLE, Texas — A 32-year-old US citizen arrested by Border Patrol agents died in custody in Texas on Tuesday, according to a Customs and Border Protection statement.

Customs and Border Protection sent congressional offices a statement about the man’s death, which occurred nearly six hours after his arrest. The agency did not identify the man in its Wednesday statement, but said he was a US citizen and that he was arrested as a suspect in an “alien smuggling incident.”

According to the statement, the man was arrested around 3 p.m. Tuesday and taken to the Brackettville, Texas, station to be processed. The man “began exhibiting signs of distress,” and EMT-certified agents gave the man first aid and called local Emergency Medical Services as his health deteriorated, the statement said.

EMS arrived 40 minutes later and took him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:37 p.m. local time.

The agency did not provide additional details on the incident.

The agency, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, has previously faced scrutiny over its handling of people in custody, particularly following the deaths of children in custody.

The deaths of two young Guatemalans in late 2018 spurred congressional hearings and new procedures from DHS and CBP. Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died of sepsis, a bacterial infection, in an El Paso hospital in December 2018 — two days after she and her father were detained. Weeks later, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died of flu complicated by sepsis while in Customs and Border Protection custody.

The Department of Homeland Security inspector general found “no misconduct or malfeasance” by immigration officials.

Late last year, video also surfaced of a sick Guatemalan boy who died in government custody. The boy, identified by a US Customs and Border Protection official as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, 16, died on May 20 at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas, days after he crossed into the US and was apprehended by immigration officials, CBP said.

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