The volunteers, who are members of the faith-based humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, were caught on Aug. 13, 2017, by a Federal Wildlife officer as they left water jugs, beans and other supplies for migrants in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which shares a 50-mile border with Mexico. No More Deaths claims that 155 migrants have died in the refuge since 2001, and that the organization aims to save lives by providing basic supplies.
The judge, United States Magistrate Bernardo P. Velasco, ruled that three of the volunteers – Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick – were convicted of entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit and abandoning personal property or possessions. A fourth volunteer, Natalie Hoffman, was convicted on an additional charge of operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area. Each of the volunteers faces up to six months in prison.
The decision is the first conviction against humanitarian aid volunteers in a decade, the Associated Press reported.