TUCSON – Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents are facing complex challenges with concurrent law enforcement and humanitarian missions in what appears to be a new normal on the Southwest Border.
In the month of May, Tucson Sector agents rescued 108 people who crossed the border illegally, including a man precariously perched atop a cliff face in Sonoita. Agents encountered large numbers of family units from Central America, overwhelming resources and shattering previous yearly apprehension totals. Tucson Sector Border Patrol also seized an ultralight aircraft stuffed with hard narcotics and discovered an incomplete cross-border tunnel in Nogales.
“Alien smuggling is a lucrative business,” said Roy Villareal Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief. It is orchestrated by traffickers who use these large groups to create a vulnerability in operations.”
In late May, during a bi-national operation, numerous cartel observation positions were discovered and dismantled by a joint U.S./Mexican law enforcement team, highlighting the dangerously dynamic environment along the border. Just days before Tucson Sector seized an ultra-light aircraft loaded with more than 143 pounds of methamphetamine and fentanyl south of Tucson.
A single group of 134 Central Americans surrendered to Border Patrol in Sasabe after walking around the west end of the pedestrian fencing. Approximately 10 hours later, another group of more than 30 people crossed at the same location.
With the increase of the vulnerable migrant population crossing the border, humanitarian needs have multiplied exponentially, overwhelming transportation, medical, and manpower resources. The strain and human toll is frustrating for migrants, their families, the American public, and law enforcement agents alike.
The direct risk to human health and safety is a result of robust criminal endeavors. Transnational criminal organizations are employing dangerous and unconventional methods to smuggle humans and drugs into the United States, hindering law enforcement and first responder capabilities.