National Geographic Society

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Dead of Night

Officers carry an injured immigrant to the Blackhawk. Immigrants trying to enter the country illegally walk through the desert for days putting themselves at risk for dehydration and death.

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Aviation Enforcement Pilot John Manheimer and his Black Hawk team patrol the Sonoran Desert searching for illegal border crossers and drug smugglers. After an unmanned aerial vehicle spots suspected illegal border crossers in the mountains, Aviation Enforcement Officer Oscar Peru and his crew deploy to round them up in the rugged terrain. From a remote border patrol station, teams of five agents do seven-day rotations and are on call 24/7.