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“She wanted the best for her girl”: the story of a 22-year-old Mexican mother who died after migrants shipwrecked in California


Yecenia Lazcano, who is survived by a 3-year-old girl in Puebla, was identified as one of the eight deceased after the collision of two pangas on the coast of San Diego, over the weekend. Experts warn that sea travel to the US multiplies when there are more restrictions on the land border.

In the last video that Yecenia Lazcano sent to her relatives, the rough sea and high tide were seen before getting on the boat.

The 22-year-old Mexican girl was the first in her family to emigrate by sea to the United States, a dangerous route that experts say becomes more active when restrictions on the land border increase.

It was Saturday, March 11.

Almost at midnight, two pangas carrying migrants capsized off the coast of San Diego.

When his family found out about the accident, they feared the worst, one of his brothers told Telemundo News.

At least eight people died.

One of them, the authorities confirmed on Tuesday, was the young Mexican.

"He wanted the best for his girl," said a brother of Yecenia Lazcano, who lives in the United States undocumented and requested anonymity.

Lazcano, she says,

was 22 years old and was the single mother of a 3-year-old girl.

Yecenia Lazcano is one of the fatalities of the shipwreck that occurred in San Diego, California, which left at least 8 dead. Courtesy / |

Lazcano Family

"Unfortunately, on this trip, he had to lose the most valuable thing we have, which is our life

," said his brother.

The family, she said, did everything possible to find her after her shipwreck and, although they did not lose hope of finding her alive, now they are fine-tuning details to repatriate her body to Puebla, Mexico, where she originally came from.

"How to explain to the girl, who is 3 years old?"

His family is devastated, his brother claimed.

She was "a great person, she always strove to have something better, she had to be alone with her daughter and now it's up to us to take care of my niece," she said.

[At least 8 dead after the collision of two boats on the California coast where migrants were traveling]

Lazcano was reserved, cheerful and always sought to avoid conflict, she said.

She was "very loved by everyone" and now "there is no way to explain to the girl, who is 3 years old" that her mother died.

"There were many plans that she had."

As of Wednesday, San Diego authorities had revealed the identities of four of the eight victims:

Guillermo Suárez González, 23;

Eloy Hernandez Baltazar, 48;

Alma Rosa Figueroa Gorgonio, 18;

and Yecenia Lazcano Soriano, 22.

Yecenia Lazcano, Mexican migrant who died in a shipwreck in San Diego, California. Courtesy /

All four died from drowning, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office report, which did not provide further details.

Of the eight victims, seven were Mexican, the Mexican Consulate in San Diego said Monday.

"We are working with the Consulate General of Mexico to identify and notify the families of all the deceased," the Office of the Medical Examiner said.

One of the deadliest shipwrecks in San Diego

The accident happened Saturday around 11:30 p.m. and authorities were alerted by a woman who called 911 and said in Spanish that two boats had capsized and that "there

were victims in the water

. "

According to her account to the emergency line, one of the pangas was carrying 15 people and another eight.

The woman has not been located or identified by authorities, who

found no survivors upon reaching the beach

, the Fire and Rescue Department reported.

"It is possible that the people (who survived) have fled the beach, we are not sure," said James Gartland, head of the Lifeguard Division.

The lifeguards "found lifeless bodies and two overturned boats," the authorities explained on Sunday at a press conference.

At the accident site they found life jackets and fuel barrels.

[At least 58 dead after the capsizing of a boat with migrants on the Italian coast]

The fog made visibility difficult and the rescue was called off at the beginning of the week.

Authorities said the shipwreck was one of the deadliest involving migrants in the San Diego area.

In total, eight bodies were recovered and four of them have yet to be identified.

Gregorio Sánchez, a 34-year-old Mexican, is still missing.

Seeking help to locate him, his family contacted the organization, an office for advice and support for migrants based in New York.

Lazcano's relatives also asked them for help in locating her, before confirming his death.

"We are still waiting for Gregorio," Williams Murillo, director of the organization, assured Telemundo News, who says that Sánchez's family has not wanted to speak to the media.

"He is a young man who works in construction" and he traveled to the United States to look for work, Murillo explained.

Gregorio Sánchez, one of the migrants who disappeared in the shipwreck in California. Courtesy /

The migrants "had paid money for the crossing, how much we don't know," he said.

He also has no information about the survivors.

“The rest of the people apparently were able to make it to San Diego, make landfall and probably escaped,” he said.

More restrictions on the land border, more sea crossings

When a tragedy like this occurs, the coyotes notify the families of the migrants, but then they disappear, he explained.

"The relatives get desperate and call that phone number back and they never answer," he lamented.

"It's a kind of 'modus operandi': report when there is bad news and disappear."

[CBP reports a 42% drop in migrant crossings along the southern border]

For him, the sea route is used more frequently when crossing the land border is difficult.

In recent months, southern border crossings have fallen drastically, following the tightening of measures to expel migrants by the Joe Biden Administration, mainly the Title 42 health policy.

Neither the authorities nor Lazcano's family know what happened before or during the shipwreck.

The disappearance of the survivors who reached the beach leaves holes in the story.

"I don't know how many people could have been saved

," said the brother of the young Mexican to Noticias Telemundo.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) detailed at the end of 2021 that there are several active crossing points by sea in Mexico, including Popotla, Ensenada and the beaches of Tijuana.

In his report entitled

The Sea Inside: Migrants and Shipwrecked at Sea


The IOM indicated that for this type of travel, yachts, Jet Skis

and rafts are used,

which usually leave at night or at dawn to avoid detection.

But migrants, he warns, may believe that crossing this route is easier, and in reality "these migration strategies can be highly fatal."

One of the two boats found in Black's Beach, San Diego, on Sunday, March 12, 2023.Gregory Bull / AP

Migrants do not wear life jackets during these trips and "they do not know the distances, the conditions of the beaches and if their safety is really guaranteed," the agency concludes.

“Pangas full with 40 people”

Getting to California by sea from Mexico is much more dangerous than from Cuba to Florida, Adam Stanton, spokesman for the Coast Guard in San Diego, told Telemundo News.

Since 2021, 23 deaths have been reported as a result of four shipwrecks, including the one that occurred this weekend, he explained.

Irregular crossings along that route have increased 771% since 2017

and migrants travel by dozens packed into boats designed for a maximum of five passengers, Stanton said.

[New York is paying for bus tickets for migrants traveling to the Canadian border to seek asylum there]

Pangas are small boats that are often used in Latin America for fishing or transport, mainly in rivers.

"We have seen some (boats) completely full with 40 people, those boats are not designed to carry 40 people," he said.

From August 2010 to October 2021, the Secretariat of the Navy in Mexico (SEMAR) rescued 4,798 migrants who were shipwrecked in national waters, the Mexican newspaper La Jornada reported.

Upon reaching the San Diego beach, the authorities only found two capsized pangas, life jackets and fuel containers, but no survivors.

Gregory Bull/AP

“This trip is extremely dangerous and the smugglers don't care about your life

,” Stanton warned, adding that the currents are treacherous in that area, where it is not safe to swim.

Black's Beach, where the shipwreck occurred, is known for its "unstable cliffs, rockfalls and frequent rip currents," according to the University of California, San Diego.

“The water conditions are not for novice surfers or swimmers

,” he warns.

This journey is extremely dangerous and the traffickers don't care about your life."

Adam Stanton San Diego Coast Guard

Migrants are rarely informed of how dangerous this pathway is, Stanton said.

Authorities have also found people being forced to make the trip by smugglers who are part of an international crime plot, she said.

A Latina who was on one of the boats that crashed in San Diego was the one who called 911 asking for help

March 13, 202300:39

In some intercepted boats they have found drug residues, Stanton said, which poses an additional risk for migrants who seek a better future in the United States and are usually unaware that the boats are used for other purposes.

A boat recently found "had drug residue, we have seen boats with children and

if children touch that residue it is another danger

," he warned.

[A family sues Airbnb over the death of their 19-month-old daughter, poisoned by fentanyl on a vacation in Florida]

The IOM investigation also warns that "in this region irregular migration by sea is not only associated with the smuggling of migrants but is closely linked to drug trafficking and other crimes."

“Migrants have no power of choice, you are at the mercy of human traffickers,” insisted Murillo.

"The coyoteros are never thinking about the well-being of the people, what they want is money,

if they can take you by sea, air or by land, they will see how they can take the greatest number of people to the United States" .

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-15

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