A teenager from Mexico died after drinking liquid methamphetamine, which he claimed to United States Customs and Border Protection agents was juice, according to newly released surveillance video footage.
Cruz Marcelino Velazquez Acevedo, 16, from Tijuana was attempting to enter the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego on Nov. 18, 2013, when officers asked him to drink bottles of amber-colored liquid in his backpack.
He told the officers that the bottles contained juice. Officers didn’t believe him and asked him to drink, NBC San Diego reported.
“It’s true that Cruz was doing something that was against the law. And that he did not have to be doing. That’s a fact,” said Gene Iredale, who is a family attorney. “It’s also true that they did not point their guns at him or physically threaten him but in a social context in which this occurred, they knew exactly what they were doing.”
The family members claimed that the teen was “coerced and intimidated” into drinking the highly toxic liquid and was taken into custody instead of given medical attention.
Right after he drank the liquid, he began sweating and screaming in pain before convulsing, according to a lawsuit from the family. His family also claimed that he shouted the words “mi corazon,” which translates to “my heart.” He died within hours of an acute drug overdose.
But the former head of internal affairs at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, James Tomsheck, told ABC News that the officers violated agency protocols in allowing the teen to drink from the bottle.
“If they truly suspected there was a controlled substance in the bottle,” Tomsheck told ABC. “They should’ve conducted a field test.”
The incident took place three years ago and Velazquez’s family received a $1 million settlement earlier this year. But the video footage of him drinking the meth was just aired on ABC News, July 28, for the first time. The agents involved in the case, Valerie Baird and Adrian Perallon, have stayed with the agency in San Diego.
An official report called the incident an “accident” and Perallon had claimed Velazquez “volunteered” to take a drink.