SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico — Authorities in the U.S. and Mexico are searching for the family of a toddler who was abandoned in the desert near the border.
A border patrol agent went to the area Saturday night after a ground sensor near the border went off and found the two-year-old and a man in his early-to-mid 20s.
When he approached, the man said he was the boy's uncle, but ran into Mexico — leaving the boy behind. Authorities suspect he’s a smuggler.
The Border Patrol turned the boy over to the Sunland Park Police Department in New Mexico, just west of El Paso. They're calling him "Adrian."
“He’s a healthy two-year-old boy, is what they’re telling me, “ Jaime Reyes, Sunland Park Police told local television station KVIA.
Reyes described the toddler as “very talkative, wearing clean clothes,” but added: “We’re not sure he belongs in Mexico or is a U.S. citizen.”
Authorities suspect the boy is from Mexico. The Mexican Consulate is working to try to locate his relatives and is asking the public to contact the “Protection Department” with information.
After the Sunland Park Police Department posted the child’s photo on the department’s Facebook page, several people called claiming they are relatives including a woman who said she’s the boy’s grandmother.
The Mexican Consulate General is working to verify the information and said the toddler “will not be turned over to anyone without his parents' permission.”
The area where Adrian was abandoned is used by smugglers and his case highlights the risks some undocumented parents take to be reunited with their children.
Some of those smugglers abandon the kids or criminal organizations that control smuggling routes hold them for ransom.
According to the U.S. Border Patrol, 13,974 "unaccompanied minors" from Mexico were apprehended in 2012.