Skip to comments.Agents target routes; Border Patrol operation focus is on area highways and trails
Posted on 11/19/2003 12:15:17 PM PST by HiJinx
COCHISE COUNTY -- The U.S. Border Patrol began Operation Pipeline Monday, an effort to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs through the many trails in the Huachuca Mountains and along major highways in Cochise and Santa Cruz counties.
The increased emphasis to counter the use of the mountain range and roads that connect the routes in both counties will include day and night operations, said Andy Adame, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector.
"There will be increased ground interdiction and air operations," he said Tuesday.
The Huachuca Mountains are a hot spot of used(sic) by smugglers of people and drugs.
Operation Pipeline will continue "until we see a significant decrease in smuggling activities," Adame said.
Citing operational security concerns, Adame declined to say how much more manpower and other assets are being placed in the two counties. He said agents from the Naco and Douglas stations, both in Cochise County, and the Sonoita Station, in Santa Cruz County, along with others are part of the operation.
Additional search and rescue personnel, as well as special response teams, have been added to support the program, he said. Air operations will continue out of Fort Huachuca's Libby Army Airfield.
The first day of operations, which began at 4 a.m. Monday, netted 126 illegal immigrants, 259 pounds of marijuana, the seizure of 11 vehicles and one person charged with alien smuggling, Adame said.
The Naco corridor, an area that goes just east of the San Pedro River to the west side of the Huachuca Mountains, has been the site of heavy illegal traffic, especially people, he said.
In October, the first month of the new federal fiscal year, 26,601 illegal immigrants were apprehended in the entire Tucson Sector, an area that includes all of Arizona except the far western counties, according to figures provided by the Border Patrol. Last month's figures showed 5,000 more people apprehended than in October 2002.
More than 58 percent of those apprehended in the sector in October -- 15,648 -- were taken into custody by agents of the three stations in Cochise County, which are Douglas, Naco and Willcox. The county's increase was also more than 5,000 in October compared to October 2002.
Agents from the Naco Station were responsible for the most apprehensions last month in Cochise County, which was 9,368 compared to 3,521 in October 2002.
When it came to marijuana seizures, Border Patrol figures showed that sectorwide 22,440 pounds were confiscated last month compared to 17,381 pounds in October 2002.
The Naco Station had the most marijuana seized in Cochise County last month -- 7,024 pounds compared to 3,890 pounds in October 2002.
Adame said those involved in illegal activities crossing the border from Mexico into the United States have changed the migration routes from the west desert area of Arizona to the Naco corridor.
The object of Operation Pipeline is to stop immigration in the Huachuca Mountains and along highways, primarily highways 82 and 90.
As the smugglers have changed their routes, the Border Patrol is changing its interdiction capabilities to catch those bringing illegal immigrants and drugs through Cochise and Santa Cruz counties, Adame said.
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