MCSO deputies search for immigrants crossing desert near Gila Bend

GILA BEND, AZ - Maricopa County Sheriff's Office search and rescue teams raced against the clock and the sun to try and save eight people stranded in the desert. The search was taking place along Interstate 8, just east of Gila Bend.

Officials say they got a 911 call around 8:50 a.m. Monday. The man claimed he and his group had been walking through the desert for eight days.

They'd been without water for the last two days, so the man separated from the group and went to get help.

"He said his guide left the group and never returned. The others were too weak to walk, so he walked to the I-8 and called 911," said MCSO Deputy Juan Francisco Silva.

Deputies believe the group is somewhere on the Air Force base in Gila Bend. The base is doing active training, making the search dangerous because live missiles are being dropped. Deputies want to get them out of there before they are put in any more danger.

"We have to make the effort. There are human beings out there and they are asking for help," Silva said.

MCSO has seen a dramatic increase in the number of rescues. Just this week, deputies have rescued more than 30 people, mainly because more border-crossers are carrying cell phones and can call for help.

Border-crossers can spend up to 14 days crossing the desert into Arizona. The journey for many is longer because many are walking through remote areas to avoid Border Patrol agents.

MCSO says to launch the helicopter it costs $600 an hour. When you add the man power on the ground the rescues can cost an upward of $10,000.

There was no word as of Monday night if the immigrants had been found.

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