Finding a way for Jose

A nine-year-old boy with a massive tumour was whisked to New Mexico in an armoured vehicle for treatment, his family said.

Last Thursday, the boy and his parents were whisked away from the gang-infested neighbourhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico - one of the deadliest cities in the world - by US federal agents and taken across the border.

This operation came after members of a New Mexico Baptist church saw him near an orphanage and sought help.

The parents of the child, identified by officials only as Jose to protect his family, said the tumour on his shoulder and neck has grown so large that it now affects his eyesight and could move into his heart.

With no money for medical care, the family sought treatment in Juarez and El Paso, but did not receive any help to remove the tumour, which has afflicted Jose since birth.

The pastor of First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Mr Si Budagher, said the church members spotted the boy while doing missionary work and felt compelled to do something to help him.

"He just came up to us and offered to carry groceries," Mr Budagher said. "The Lord put him in front of us."

Church members resumed missionary work in the border city only recently after suspending visits there due to the deadly violence among rival drug cartels.

The violence has claimed thousands of lives.

Ms Denise Gutierrez, a victim assistance coordinator for Homeland Security Investigations, said she felt compelled to help as soon as she saw photos of Jose.

"I refused to believe that there was nothing we could do for this boy," she said.

Ms Gutierrez said the boy and his parents were granted a 45-day humanitarian visa for treatment in New Mexico.

Several US federal agencies worked together to get them into the US.

Asked on Friday about the ride in the armoured vehicle, Jose's eyes widened before he covered his face with his hands.

"I like it here," he said.

Mr Budagher said the church has set up a fund for private donations and is helping with the cost of the family's stay in the US.

The church is also seeking help from doctors to examine Jose - it's still unclear what treatment is needed or if he'll need to return for follow-up visits.

"We are all trying to stay positive and believe that there is something we can do for this boy and his family," said Mr Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico.

Jose said he's not sure what he will do when the tumour is removed. "Play football," he offered. "Maybe ride a bike."

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