Suspected human smuggler escapes from custody

Imperial Valley escapee

EL CENTRO, Calif. - U.S. Border Patrol agents are actively looking for a suspected human smuggler who escaped from custody during a medical evaluation at the hospital.

Agents say, Raul Esparza, 27, who is a U.S. citizen was apprehended by agents and taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center for a medical evaluation. Esparza escaped from custody during the evaluation at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Agents say they searched for Esparza throughout the hospital but were not able to find him.

“We ask the residents of our community to keep an eye out for this suspect and report it if you see him,” said Assistant Chief Patrol Agent David S. Kim, “I also strongly caution any individuals who may contemplate assisting or helping Mr. Esparza evade arrest not to. He is charged with a serious felony and is now a fugitive from justice. Any assistance knowingly rendered to Mr. Esparza to avoid capture is likewise a serious felony and we intend to pursue those charges to the fullest if necessary. The best thing Mr. Esparza can do for himself is surrender to the Border Patrol.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the El Centro Sector Border Intelligence Center at 1-800-901-2003. Agents say all calls are confidential and will remain anonymous.



Authorities are still looking for 27 year old Raul Esparza.

Agents confirm that Esparza is still missing but is not considered a threat to the community.

 “Mr. Esparza claimed to the federal agents that he was feeling the withdrawals of methamphetamine,” said Agent Juan Gonzalez, U.S. Border Patrol.

Border patrol agents then decided to take Esparza to the El Centro Regional Medical Center where he made his escape. And the mystery remains to how he did so.

 “It’s an ongoing investigation right now and i cannot comment on that,” explained Gonzalez.

Immediate action was taken and protocols were put into place when the suspect was noticed missing around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

 “We contact the proper authorities and our management and at that point we do thorough search of the immediate and surrounding areas.”

 “We don't consider Mr. Esparza a high risk to the community, but we want to recommend to the community that if they do see Mr. Esparza, they should contact U.S. border patrol hotline,” added Gonzalez.

You can contact the U.S. Border Patrol by calling 1-800-901-2003.

Authorities tell us anyone who assists or aids Esparza from avoiding arrest will be charged with federal charges.

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