September 29, 2011

Facts: Border Wars Drug-Smuggling Grandma

  • The Ajo Station's Border Patrol agents operate largely within protected lands and national monuments such as the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

  • To enter the U.S., would-be illegal immigrants often spend days in the desert with little or no resources for survival. The remoteness and rough terrain of the area often requires agents to patrol the desert on foot, on horseback, on ATV or on motorcycle.

  • The Ajo Station, located along State Route 85 about 120 miles west of the Tucson Sector headquarters, lies 9 miles south of Ajo, Arizona.

  • The Casa Grande Border Patrol Station, established in 1926, was originally staffed with three agents who patrolled near the Santa Cruz River, checking farms and ranches.

  • Customs and Border Protection established the Canine Enforcement Program to help prevent contraband from entering the U.S. DHS has over 800 canine teams, which employ breeds such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Beagles.

  • Ten possible places to hide contraband in vehicles are: wheels/tires, bumpers, behind/under backseat, doors, rocker panels, fenders, gas tanks, floors, dashboard and undercarriage.

  • A well-known smuggling method is to unbolt the gas tank from the vehicle, load it up with drugs and re-attach it. But experience has taught officers to notice when the tanks have been recently removed, which has lead to another method where smugglers cut through the frame of the vehicle underneath the backseat to drop the drugs in the tank from inside. Now officers look for abnormalities inside the car above the gas tank.

  • Experts say that immigrants helped industries in Arizona grow and helped boost Arizona’s economy by filling jobs that the state’s citizens were not filling. Such industries include construction, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing.

  • According to NYU Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, 400,000 immigrant detainees nationwide are being held indefinitely. According to ICE, of all the immigrants that were deported through the Secure Communities program from October 2008 through June 2010, 79% had no criminal record or were arrested for minor offenses.

  • The reservation of the Tohono O'odham Nation is located in southwestern Arizona, and extends beyond the border into Mexico. The name of the federally-recognized tribe translates to "desert people".

  • Canines used for drug detection are trained to associate the smell of drugs with their favorite toy. This is done, for example, by rolling up a bag of marijuana inside a towel and using it to play tug of war with the dog. The dog then learns that when he finds the scent he'll be rewarded with a game of tug-of-war – hence the incentive to sniff out drugs.

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