Category Archives: Updates

Evidence in Scott Warren Trial Points to Government Surveillance and Retaliation

A motion filed by the defense in the case of United States v. Scott Warren last week in Tucson federal court has revealed the sweeping extent of government surveillance of No More Deaths/No Más Muertes and the retaliatory nature of Dr. Warren’s arrest in January of 2018. The Motion to Dismiss due to Selective Enforcement details months of communication between U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, beginning as early as July 2017 and discussing the movement and activities of No More Deaths volunteers in Ajo, AZ

According to the motion, on January 8th, 2018, nine days before Dr. Warren’s arrest, “[Border Patrol Agent] Marquez then provided Scott Warren’s home address to [USFWS Law Enforcement Agent] Ebann…The two exchanged information about vehicles Ebann had observed at the Barn, which included some he referred to as ‘the NMD vehicles.’ Ebann even told Marquez that ‘Warrens POV [privately owned vehicle] is there as well,’ to which Marquez responded ‘Oh nice’. The two law enforcement agents thus kept track not only of where Scott Warren lived, but also what kind of car he drove, and his whereabouts. This exchange makes clear that Marquez had his sights set on NMD, and Scott Warren specifically, although he never stated any reason to suspect them of doing anything illegal.”

On January 17th, 2018, No More Deaths released a report documenting Border Patrol’s routine interference with humanitarian aid efforts. The report was released alongside footage collected over several years showing Border Patrol agents destroying and/or removing aid supplies left in the desert. The motion asserts that Dr. Warren’s arrest was a targeted act of political retaliation resulting from No More Deaths’ open criticism of Border Patrol’s human rights abuses

The motion also examines, in detail, the communications of the Border Patrol agents who surrounded and surveilled “the Barn,” a base of operations for numerous humanitarian aid groups in Ajo, on the morning of January 17th. The agents spent the morning tracking No More Deaths volunteers’ activities in and around the Barn as well as at the office of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. According to the motion, “At 4:38 pm, Marquez reports, he saw Dr. Warren step outside the Barn with two individuals he believed to be undocumented. At this point, [his partner BP Agent] Burns sent two messages…In the message to [BP Agent] Ballesteros and Marquez, Burns says, ‘2 toncs at the house’. Ballesteros responds, ‘What!?!?!?!?!?! Nice!’ This is surely not the reaction of a professional Border Patrol Agent every time he locates an undocumented individual.”

Previous statements from the arresting officers have asserted that their surveillance of the Barn on the afternoon January 17th was driven by information that two undocumented individuals were suspected to be in the Ajo area. Upon cross-examination, it was revealed that the officers had tried to obtain absolutely no descriptive information about the two individuals in question and knew nothing about their height, age, hair color, or other identifying features. The defense lawyers go on to assert that Agent Ballesteros’ exclamation is not “the reaction of a Border Patrol Agent who had a reasonable suspicion in the first place that the surveillance of the Barn was going to reveal the presence of undocumented aliens. Rather, it evidences Agent Ballesteros’s excitement at the idea of ‘busting’ NMD.”

Read the text of the motion here.

Statement by #Cabeza9 defendants

Firstly, we want to acknowledge that we are standing on occupied land of the Tohono O’odham people. Let us not forget the illegality of the United States of America on indigenous territory and the way the US has ravaged Central America, forcing diaspora. Furthermore, this government has considered slavery and genocide as legal for hundreds of years.

We may have been found guilty but the real crime is the government’s deliberate policy to use “death as a deterrent” at the US/Mexico border. The criminalization of those acting in solidarity is a classic example of the ramping up of an authoritarian regime.

The humanitarian work that has ultimately brought us here today will continue to address the border crisis until there are no more deaths.

We refuse to stand by and watch silently as the United States becomes more and more deeply authoritarian. This is something that affects and should concern us all.

The four of us want to thank everyone in our families and communities here and across the world for their unbelievably wonderful support and solidarity. We also want to thank our team of lawyers and those of you here today who are prioritizing telling this story.

Volunteers Given Fines and Probation for Putting Water in the Desert

March 1, 2019

TUCSON – On Friday, four No More Deaths/No Más Muertes volunteers convicted of federal misdemeanors were issued fines of $250 per defendant and sentenced to 15 months of unsupervised probation. Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco were convicted in January of this year for engaging in humanitarian work on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a vast and remote area south of Ajo, Arizona. In the summer of 2017, one of the hottest on record in Arizona, the volunteers put out water and food on the refuge in the hopes of staving off death by dehydration for people walking in the desert.  They were charged several months later with Entering a Wildlife Refuge Without A Permit, Driving in a Wilderness Area and Abandonment of Property.

During the trial, Judge Velasco stated that “I think it goes without saying: You need water in the desert, and without water you will die.

“The border crisis in this country is a matter of life and death.  History will not favor those on the wrong side of it,” said defendant Madeline Huse. “Our border policy continues to push people into remote and dangerous parts of the desert.”

Over 10,000 individuals and 500 organizations signed onto a statement of support asserting that, faced with the same crisis of death and disappearance, they too would choose to put water in the desert. The statement was published in today’s Arizona Daily Star.

The sentencing comes on the heels of federal prosecutors forgoing criminal prosecution of a second set of No More Deaths defendants on the same charges.  On February 21, Caitlin Deighan, Rebecca Richeimer, Zoe Anderson, and Logan Hollarsmith agreed to receive civil infractions and a fine of $250 each in exchange for criminal charges being dropped.  A ninth defendant, Scott Warren, faces misdemeanor charges for his work on Cabeza as well as three federal felony charges for other humanitarian aid work. Both trials are scheduled for May 2019.

Update from Nogales

One of many tables of families being served a breakfast at the Comedor.

The scene has changed dramatically at the Comedor (the dining room) run by the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), (a project of the Catholic Church in Nogales, Sonora) where every day volunteers go to help migrants reconnect with families, receive medical attention, and for those who have been deported, to get checks cashed. 

No More Deaths volunteers go in teams from Tucson to offer the migrants the chance to make a free phone call to families in the US, Central America, Mexico, or other far-reaching places.  No More Deaths covers the cost of the phone service.  Many basic medical needs are met by our volunteer medical team using donated supplies. 

The number of calls made has held steady over the past few years, but this has now changed as well.  In December 2018, 248 calls were made compared to 339 recorded for December 2017.   We see this as the result of more people carrying cell phones.     

The number of people being served meals at the Comedor has been much higher in 2019, with approximately 400-500 meals being served per day during February.   We are seeing both an increase in the number of families and the number of people from Guatemala.    More migrants, rather than escaping poverty, are fleeing violence, and are most often coming as family units seeking asylum.  The second week of February, a group of 97 Honduran families arrived. It’s shocking to see mothers with babies in their arms without strollers or anything else to help carry them. Many have travelled on the top of freight trains with small children in hand and endured unimaginable problems while passing through Mexico. 

No More Deaths’ volunteers also offer a check cashing service to enable previously detained and deported migrants a way to get their money back.  This is needed, because upon release, the private prisons issue checks that can’t be cashed at banks in Mexico or a credit card that is hard to use and deletes money from the balance every time someone tries to use it.   Sometimes money is wired to the person or a family member after they arrive back home.  The border is a dangerous area to have cash, and the deported migrants are often targets.

The Kino staff are an amazing and adaptable group of religious workers who have an unbelievable capacity for love, patience, and kindness. It’s a pleasure for the NMD volunteers to work with them and other allied organizations.  If anyone, especially medically trained people who speak some Spanish, would like to get on the volunteer team,  please contact Nancy Myers at

Federal Government Drops Charges Against Four No More Deaths Volunteers, One Still Faces Trial

February 21, 2019

Federal Government Drops Charges Against Four No More Deaths Volunteers, One Still Faces Trial

TUCSON: On Thursday federal prosecutors dropped criminal charges against four humanitarian aid volunteers.  The charges came down as a result of the volunteers’ search for migrants missing in the desert. They have now been issued civil infractions carrying a fine of $250 each.  One remaining volunteer, Scott Warren, continues to await trial both on misdemeanor charges and felony charges for his humanitarian aid work in the Ajo corridor.

In July 2017, No More Deaths’ Search and Rescue hotline received a call about three migrants in distress on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Border Patrol and the local sheriff were notified but initially declined to mobilize resources to respond. The four humanitarian aid workers immediately initiated a search.

The volunteers spent hours searching for the three migrants. Upon exiting the refuge that night, they were stopped, detained and questioned by Fish and Wildlife officials and Border Patrol. In the following days two of the migrants were located alive and were subsequently deported.  Additional No More Deaths volunteers attempted to continue to search for the remaining individual but were denied access by refuge managers. The third man was never found.

Months later that group, as well as five other No More Deaths volunteers, found out that the government had filed federal charges against them for their work on the refuge.  Earlier this year, four went to trial and were convicted of federal misdemeanors – their sentencing is on March 1st.  Each volunteer faces both possible prison time and a fine of up to $10,000.  Warren is scheduled to go to trial in May of this year.

“Today might be a victory for No More Deaths, but people continue to die and disappear every day in the desert,”  said defendant Logan Hollarsmith. “Our hearts remain with the families of the disappeared. As long as border policy funnels migrants into the most remote corridors of the desert, the need for a humanitarian response will continue.”