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Tue May 14, 2019, 09:50 PM

No More Deaths Trial Begins, As More Bodies Are Discovered Along The Border



DOZENS OF PEOPLE turned out in support for Scott Warren at the federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, last week. But as friends and family filled the benches, there was a noteworthy absence: A team of Warren’s fellow humanitarian aid volunteers were out in the field. They were searching for a man reported missing on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge — the same remote desert area where Warren was accused of leaving jugs of water, food, and medical supplies for migrants in distress.

The missing persons report came in Saturday night via a tip line operated by No More Deaths, one of the humanitarian groups Warren works with. As the volunteers searched the area the following morning, they came across a skull and scattered bones spread out beneath a wooden cross, partially covered by a tattered white blanket. It seemed to be the same set of bones that volunteers had reported finding in late 2017. Typically, authorities would have collected the remains once they were reported, so they could be turned over to the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office. It appeared that hadn’t happened.

When Warren’s trial kicked off in Tucson the following day, May 6, his fellow volunteers were still searching. They reported finding three sets of suspected human remains on Monday, another on Wednesday, and two more on Thursday. A majority were discovered within walking distance of a Border Patrol rescue beacon. All the while, the man the volunteers were searching for remained missing.

The grim work provided an apt backdrop for the court proceedings in Tucson, where Warren’s defense team argued that deeply held spiritual beliefs compel the 36-year-old geographer to confront the death and disappearance that encircle Ajo, Arizona, the tiny, unincorporated community where Warren lives and concentrates his humanitarian efforts — and where the remains of hundreds of migrants have been discovered in recent years. To prosecute Warren for those efforts would violate his religious freedom rights, the lawyers argued.


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