On the morning of April 5, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office received a frantic call from a grandmother of a three-week-old baby girl. The grandmother informed the SDSO that her granddaughter Anissa, who was in her legal custody, was now missing from her Spring Valley, California, home. The grandmother suspected the child’s aunt and her boyfriend to be involved in the abduction.
By late afternoon, SDSO reached out to the U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector for assistance. San Diego Sector activated its Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) unit to join in the search with the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) unit and its Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies unit (ASTREA).
BORSTAR Supervisory Roy Lopez and his K-9 partner Alex are elated to have found Baby Anissa who was abducted by her aunt.
Finally, the search units got a break and discovered the aunt’s vehicle near an isolated area of Lakeside, California. Here the units began to focus their search as nightfall was approaching.
A few hours later just before 8 p.m., BORSTAR Supervisory K-9 handler Roy Lopez, his K-9 partner Alex, and BORSTAR Agent Steve Cardoza gained a hot lead when SBPA Lopez’ K-9 Alex alerted to a marshy area of bamboo plant. After circling twice, K-9 Alex located the aunt and Baby Anissa in the marshy area. Agents were elated and relieved to locate the infant.
When asked about the rescue, Supervisory K-9 handler Lopez said, “The odds were stacked against us of finding the infant safe but the Search and Rescue canine put the odds back in our favor.”
Paramedics were called to the scene and evaluated Baby Anissa. She appeared to be okay but was taken to a local hospital for further medical examination. The aunt was detained for further questioning by the San Diego Sheriff’s Office and faces criminal charges. The aunt’s boyfriend was also located and detained by SDSO.
Since BORSTAR’s inception in 1998, the San Diego Sector BORSTAR team has participated in numerous operations resulting in the rescue of individuals and fellow agents. The San Diego Sector BORSTAR team rescue capabilities are enhanced by strong working relationships with other search and rescue agencies within the county of San Diego. The establishment of this type of emergent medical response team has greatly facilitated timely medical response to emergent medical and/or lost person situations. At the national level BORSTAR also provides training in basic search and rescue, tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), first aid, land navigation, technical rope rescue, and aquatic safety to numerous Law Enforcement Agencies around the country and overseas.