JANICE L. KEPHART
I am currently the Director of National Security Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and a former counsel to the 9/11 Commission, where I co-authored the monograph 9/11 and Terrorist Travel alongside recommendations that appear in the 9/11 Final Report. Prior to 9/11, I was counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology and Terrorism where I specialized in foreign terrorist activity in the United States and worked on oversight issues pertaining to border security and counterterrorism with the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service, as well as gained unanimous consent in both Houses of Congress for the federal criminal redress system in place today for identity theft. Today I focus on all issues pertaining to border security and its nexus to national security. This is my 11th testimony before Congress, and I am privileged to be here before you today.
Last year, after becoming increasingly alarmed at a growing silence about the southwest border, and particularly Arizona, where Operation Gatekeeper in the late 1990s had successfully pushed much of the illegal crossings into Arizona, I began a series of documentary films. I was especially concerned about the interest of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda’s in seeking anonymous entry of their operatives along the southwest and northern border. There were documented cases of both terror organizations pursuing this type of travel strategy, an issue that I had testified to in prior years before Congress.
At the time, I was concerned that the administration was not taking the threat as seriously as it could. It decided not to construct new fencing on the southern border; it had not announced a replacement program for the Secure Border Initiative; budget proposals reflected reduced numbers of Border Patrol agents; and requests for a National Guard presence by Arizona’s new Governor, Jan Brewer, were ignored despite the success the National Guard had helped the Border Patrol achieve in 2006 in the Yuma Sector as active "boots on the ground."
During this same period, about a year and a half ago, I began receiving anonymous emails with hidden camera footage from the southwest border. Over time, this footage captured hundreds of illegal aliens crossing federal lands over and into Arizona, with few ever stopped or apprehended by the Border Patrol despite occasional chases. To my mind, this footage portrayed a very different reality than Washington’s conventional wisdom, which was reiterating that illegal alien apprehension numbers were down. How could we know numbers were down when the only way to know the real activity was not from federal government apprehensions, but private citizen hidden cameras?
The apparent absence of the Border Patrol was also striking. This was federal land with known illegal trails that caused environmental devastation as well. How could it be that the federal lands seemed less protected by federal law enforcement than private property?
“Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 2: Drugs, Guns, and 850 Illegal Aliens” is the CIS’ second web-based film on the impact of illegal alien activity in Arizona. This new 10-minute mini-documentary—which I produced, directed, wrote, and narrated—features footage of both illegal-alien entry as well as alien and drug-smuggling. It is based on two sources of hidden camera footage [SecureBorderIntel.org (Nogales/Casa Grande footage) and BorderInvasionPics.com (Coronado footage)], 10 months worth of Freedom of Information Act requests including Memos of Understanding between the federal government entities that own and patrol these lands, and a June 2010 border trip I took to southeast Arizona, the Coronado National Forest, and the Casa Grande sector highlighted in the film. The film is on the CIS website at http://cis.org/Videos/HiddenCameras2. Upon conducting document and "on the ground" research, alongside review of many reels of hidden camera footage, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that illegal alien activity is causing severe consequences for Arizona.
The mini-documentary was released at a press conference with Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-1) on July 15, 2010. Its views already exceed 100,000 just on youtube.com. The film was featured for two days on FOX News and its news affiliates and has been subject of radio interviews and print articles. It appears to be receiving a large and grassroots interest, and substantial support, for its substantive appraisal of the current status of illegal activity in Arizona.
The Center's first video on the subject, “Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border: Coyotes, Bears, and Trails,” (http://www.cis.org/videos/hiddencameras-illegalimmigration) was released on July 14, 2009 and has received over 60,000 views to date. A blog as to the federal government response to that video can be found at http://www.cis.org/Kephart/HiddenCamerasUpdate . This film focuses primarily on the environmental destruction caused by illegal activity on federal lands, highlighting in more detail waste and threat to wild animal life.
Among the lessons learned from Hidden Cameras 2 is that illegal activity and violence in Arizona is escalating. Moreover, the federal government, including the Department of Interior, which owns about 12.5 million Bureau of Land Management acres in Arizona, as well as numerous national parks and wildlife refuges, and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, which owns the Coronado National Forest, has long known the devastating effect of tillegal alien activity on its land. (See the 2009 Fact Summary Bureau of Land Management- Southern Arizona Project FY 2009 Fact Sheet
http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/az/pdfs/undoc_aliens.Par.5766...). Yet there is minimal federal law enforcement on these lands, exacerbating the environmental and public safety issues while encouraging alien and drug smugglers to use them as a playground for travel and waste. Featured in the film is a 2004 federal government PowerPoint showing the near-complete devastation of Organ Pipe National Monument due to illegal-alien activity, an Arizona borderland national park.
My FOIA requests also yielded PowerPoints from subsequent years on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and reports on the Coronado National Forest that reiterate the 2004 PowerPoint. Even in 2001, a report submitted by the Department of Interior to Congress outlined in great detail the issue of increasing illegal activity. The Department of Interior knew the extent of devastation from illegal activity on its lands, but instead of putting programs in place to work with federal law enforcement or request line-item budgets for law enforcement to help curtail the illegal activity itself, the problems have continued to deteriorate these lands, making them increasingly unsafe and hurting habitats. Two key quotes, which begin the mini-documentary, are as follows:
Thousands of new trails and roads have been created on Federal lands by undocumented aliens.
Certain federal lands in southeast Arizona can no longer be used safely by the public or Federal employees due to the significance of smuggling undocumented aliens and controlled substances into the US.
Some key facts highlighted by my research and the hidden camera footage shown in Hidden Cameras 2 include:
- In sum, on a total three trails in 60 days between February and March 2010, we counted about 850 illegal aliens, 9 drug mules, 3 guns, and a jeep with drugs careening through the desert.
- Coronado trail facts. 735 of the illegal aliens in the film are found on one trail, located in the Tucson Border Patrol sector, 15 miles north of Nogales within the Coronado National Forest. They crossed just one hidden camera in 39 days between February and March 2010 during all hours and in all weather. Not one Border Patrol agent is seen on this trail in 39 days. The illegal men and women travel in groups of 7 to 19. Also found on this trail are burlap remnants and water jugs painted black - evidence of drug smuggling. These cameras were placed purposely close to layup areas, where the illegal aliens await trucks and vans that will smuggle them further into the U.S. The layup, shown in the film, is cluttered with tons of trash left behind by those utilizing this one trail. It is estimated that 8 to 16 million tons of trash has been left behind in wildlife reserves like this one.
Extrapolated out, this one trail, uninterrupted, would yield nearly 7,000 aliens illegally entering the U.S. over the next year. Extrapolate that number out over the thousands of illegal trails government already knows exists. That could mean there are hundreds of thousands of entries that are never recorded and never make any government statistic.
- Casa Grande trail facts. A MAC-10 and two assault rifles are carried on foot, along with seven drug couriers carrying packs of sixty pounds or more, and one jeep, all caught on hidden camera video on two cameras located 70 to 80 miles north and west of Nogales. The footage was obtained in January 2010.
The federal land area where this footage was captured is west on the I-8 corridor between Tucson and Phoenix, in the Casa Grande Border Patrol sector. This area is known as Table Top, another wildlife- designated area north of the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, the Barry Goldwater Firing Range, in the Sonora Desert. In this same area, on April 30, 2010, Pinal County Deputy Sheriff is shot while in hot pursuit of drug cartels. The deputy sheriff survived after a two-hour search to find him.
The hidden cameras also picked up about half a dozen load trucks, which are run deep into the desert carrying anywhere between 20 to 35 individuals at a time in areas further west on I-8 in March and April 2010, near a large federal land area known as the Lower Sonora Desert. These loads are weighted down in human cargo, load after load, obvious and unstopped. (My sources tell me that Bureau of Land Management personnel have seen stand up loads trucks with illegals in the back with numbers up to 50.)
- Federal government awareness. The boots on the ground—the Border Patrol agents, Forest Service and National Park law enforcement agents, the state and local cops—all have known how bad the situation is for years, and are dedicated to their mission. There is no doubt about that. However, through a tedious series of Freedom of Information Act requests, I learned the disconnect between the reality of the Arizona border and Washington rhetoric.
PowerPoints and reports were obtained that show in intense detail the immense destruction to federal lands caused by illegal activity. The devastation to Organ Pipe National Monument, about 100 miles west of Nogales, is shown to be near 100 percent. The destruction shown is from illegal alien activity that includes fires and vegetation cutting; water pollution and human waste; horse, bicycle, vehicle and foot tracks; rest sites; and trash. Similar reporting was obtained on Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, also west of Nogales, and multiple reports exist on the Tohono O’odham Reservation and Coronado. In fact, there is no place on the Arizona border that does not report extensive destruction from unstopped illegal activity.
A federal law enforcement officer that helps patrol public land told me during a recent visit that his agency only has nine law enforcement officers to cover three million acres.
- The threat to public safety today. Shortly after the Pinal County Deputy Sheriff Louie Puroll was shot on April 30, 2010, in the exact same area, two Latino males were shot to death in what is strongly suspected to be drug cartel feuding. (There is reporting this past week that the heavily violent drug cartel “Zetas” are blaming Americans for the deaths of their couriers, and have put out a threat that any armed American found in these federal lands will be shot.) Nogales’ police chief reports that drug cartels are threatening his cops, telling them to look the other way if they are off-duty, or they will be targeted by “sniper or other means.”
Moreover, Arizona citizens are not just being threatened, but shot at as well. Within the last few months a grandfather and his grandson were dove hunting off of the I-8 corridor near at mile marker 124 when a truck loaded with illegal aliens came at them at a high rate of speed. The truck began firing guns at the grandfather and grandson. Other citizens report to BLM personnel, according to my sources, that there have been other U.S. citizens chased by people with AK 47 semi-machine guns in that area. In total there have been 13 confirmed shootings in the I- 8 area this year to date.
Border enforcement solutions. History provides a guide to help determine what federal law enforcement can be successful on federal lands, and what cannot. First, the Border Patrol needs access that is relatively free of preapproval to operate on these lands. It can do so while embracing environmental stewardship. A recent successful model is provided by the Yuma Sector.
According to the Border Patrol, in January 2004 the Yuma sector border lands owned by the Department of Interior and located in far western Arizona experienced a huge surge in illegal entries. There was no fence. Agents were assaulted with rocks and weapons daily and outnumbered 50 to 1. In 2005, more than 2,700 load trucks full of aliens and drugs illegally breached that sector. Smugglers were leading masses through the desert, leaving the sick and wounded to die. The smugglers did not stop for agents when in hot pursuit of vehicles. There were many crashes and deaths. By 2005, 138,500 illegal aliens were apprehended, and the numbers were still increasing. Today, the Yuma sector is clean relative to its past, and the Border Patrol can do its job. Apprehensions are down 94 percent to 8,500 in 2008.
Why and how? In May 2006, President Bush announced Operation Jumpstart, deploying more than 5,000 National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen to assist the Border Patrol in securing the boundary with Mexico. For the first time in three years, the numbers of illegal entries began to decrease. Governor Napolitano’s 2006 Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Annual Report describes the National Guard’s contribution to the operation as follows.
- Operation JUMP START, JTF-AZ Border: The Arizona National Guard, as well as the other Southwest Border States, was tasked to support Operation Jump Start in coordination with US Department of Homeland Security and the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The Arizona National Guard is supporting CBP with up to 2,400 Guardsmen to gain operational control of the border.
Since July 2006, the Arizona Army National Guard has provided over 5,489 Guardsmen to support missions along the international border with Mexico.
The Arizona National Guard is in support of the Border Patrol sectors of Yuma and Tucson. The missions tasked to National Guard soldiers and airmen include: 1) surveillance; 2) camera operations; 3) vehicle maintenance support; 4) aviation support; 5) border infrastructure/fencing; and 6) Entry Identification Teams along the 389 miles of the international border between Arizona and Mexico.
According to the Border Patrol, in the first six months of Operation Jumpstart, Guard members provided surveillance, border infrastructure, and aviation support, and also helped the Border Patrol save lives of those left to die by smugglers, deal with crash sites where there were high speed chases of smugglers, as well as interdict illegal drugs. The Guardsmen were not just repairing fences; they were boots on the ground, too.
With administration support in Washington and the National Guard’s help on the ground, between 2007 and 2008, unprecedented amounts of tactical infrastructure arrived as well, including: seven miles of ‘floating fence’ in Yuma sand dunes; 13 miles of access and vehicular fencing along the Colorado River; nine miles of secondary fencing along the San Luis POE; and 68 miles of pedestrian and vehicular fence along the Sonoran desert. By the time the operations were complete, all of Yuma’s 126 miles of border had natural or manmade barriers of some kind. Environmental assessments were conducted to assure preservation. In addition, there are two new BP stations in Yuma, and mobile surveillance sensors with ground radar as well. All of this personnel and tactical infrastructure were backed up by criminal prosecutions of illegal entrants known as Operation Streamline.
Operation Stonegarden still funds localities to help assist border security, as well, helping Arizona local law enforcement back up federal law enforcement as need be. On July 19, 2010, the administration announced $48 million to the southwest border for Stonegarden.
Conclusion. Our nation needs to own up to the real dangers to public safety and the environmental degradation highlighted by Hidden Cameras 2. Multiple deaths, the threats to Nogales off duty police by drug cartels and cross-border feuds; the millions of tons of trash and complete devastation of wildlife and forest reserves by the illegal trails and the illegal alien and drug smugglers that use them; and the lack of adequate federal law enforcement on federal land all point to the need for an urgent, strong, and steadfast solution.
However, new fencing has stopped, even though there is a 26-mile stretch of desert between Naco and Nogales where there are nearly no barriers to hundreds of illegal trails in the Coronado. Technology upgrades has stopped with rare replacements. The administration is not prosecuting illegal aliens for illegal entry unless they are previously associated with violent crime. Guns are being stopped going south but we have no land EXIT/departure system in place, nor a plan for one. Local officials, as in Arizona, are discouraged from supporting federal immigration law enforcement.
Yet despite these facts, the July 19, 2010 “DHS Weekly Report” states that “The Administration has pursued a new border security strategy over the past year and half, making historic investments in personnel, technology and infrastructure.” The DHS Weekly Report also states that 524 National Guard are to be deployed to Arizona on August 1, 2010 to “provide support for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and counternarcotics enforcement.” What was not said was this National Guard deployment is significantly curtailed in numbers and duties compared to a successful 2006 Operation Jumpstart.
Like terrorists, alien and drug smugglers must travel across a border in some manner. The most critical strategy to curtail their travel across our borders, especially in the southwest, requires an “all hands on deck” approach to border security that does not relent until the escalating threats are under control and the border secured. All elements—personnel, infrastructure, legal support, a plan for a departure system, and policies supporting federal law enforcement on federal lands, should be the starting point, not the last point, for border enforcement against illegal alien and drug smuggling. A multi-layered approach such as was done in the Yuma Sector assuring strong border presence in personnel and infrastructure, a legal system to prosecute illegal entry, and support for localities supporting a federal enforcement approach, can together discourage brazen alien and drug smuggling and reverse recidivism and criminal activity that threatens our environment and public safety. We can make it so, with American political resolve, and the programs and resources to back it up the way Americans rightfully expect for their homeland.
ADDENDUM: ARIZONA BORDER EVENTS CHRONOLOGY
The following addendum is designed to be a helpful guide on many (not all due to insufficient space) Arizona-related border events, in chronological order up until June 2010. Much of this information I utilized in the Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 2: Guns, Drugs and 850 Illegal Aliens mini-documentary. The information is sorted into five categories, by date: Arizona, Deaths/Violence, Drug Smuggling, Alien Smuggling, and Money.
May 2010: Nearly one in every three Arizona children is an immigrant or a native-born son or daughter of immigrants; an estimated 61% of Arizona children age 6 and under have foreign-born parents.
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association says that state institutions lose about $24 million annually, after federal compensation, for treating undocumented immigrants.
April 25, 2010: About $2 million of drug money passes from Arizona into Mexico each day — one of several indicators that illegal drug trafficking is flourishing, according to Anthony Coulson of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. http://www.eacourier.com/articles/2010/04/25/news/doc4bd23aa6e6feb251879... (2)
April 23, 2010: President Obama harshly criticizes Arizona for bringing forward a bill that would make illegal entry and embedding in the state a crime and enable police officers to ask immigration status, stating that legalization of undocumented aliens is the answer while supporting a decrease in Border Patrol agents, the stoppage of both virtual and physical fencing, and the disintegration of programs that enable state police officers to garner immigration status.
April 1, 2010: KGUN9 News in Tucson obtains a response from the White House on Arizona Governor Brewer’s request to add National Guard to the patrol ranks in her state, promising no help other than to “monitor” the situation. After five written requests by the Governor over the past year and a half to the President and her predecessor as governor, Secretary Napolitano, Governor Brewer has not received a response.
By the end of the business day, the reporter was able to obtain this carefully worded statement from White House spokesman Adam Abrams: “The President is firmly committed to ensuring our borders are secure. It is why the Administration has taken important steps – including deploying additional law enforcement resources to reduce illegal flows across the border and supporting Mexico's efforts against drug trafficking organizations. We are carefully monitoring the situation and will continue to ensure that we are doing everything necessary to keep communities along the Southwest border safe.”
March 17, 2010: The Project 28, a pilot of virtual fence for the Southwest border comes to a halt. To the west, in Organ Pipe National Monument—nearly half of it closed because it is both and unsafe and disseminated by illegals, DOI Secretary Salazar praises the state of border security and discusses the value of completing a virtual fence similar to the one frozen by Secretary Napolitano the day before.
March 16, 2010: Secretary Napolitano calls the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) “plagued” and freezes all assets to maintain SBI, orders another review, and then redirects $50 million to a whole new process of deploying commercially available technologies. Senator McCain praises the action.
February 2010: In fiscal year (FY) 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers along the U.S.-Mexico border discovered 16 subterranean tunnels, the majority of which were in the Tucson Sector, which encompasses a border area of 262 miles from the New Mexico state line to Yuma County, Arizona. In FY2009, authorities discovered 26 subterranean tunnels, 20 of which were in the Tucson Sector, primarily in the area of Nogales.
January 28, 2010: With its numbers right behind Mexico City, Phoenix is the number two kidnapping capital of the world.
Some officials have commented that all the Phoenix kidnappings are connected to illegal immigration. However, the actual numbers (359 in 2007, a 10-year high, 366 in 2008, and 302 for the first 11 months of 2009) account for just one-third of the reported kidnappings taking place in the metropolitan area. People are just not reporting all the kidnappings.
October 22, 2009: “Right now, the volume of marijuana that will be seized in southern Arizona will be approximately, we predict, 1.4 million pounds [700 tons] by the end of this calendar year. That is beyond what we've ever seized before,” Coulson said.
While that number is staggering and can be credited to effective and coordinated law enforcement efforts, agents said, it only represents an estimated 20 percent of all the marijuana that will enter the U.S. through Arizona this year. That means another 7 million pounds (3,500 tons) is being smuggled into the U.S. undetected through this state alone.
The DEA estimates that the drug cartels generate about $10 billion annually from the sale of drugs which pass through Arizona alone.
Another technique involves the use of specially designed trucks with ramps built in the back and front. These trucks pull up next to the barbed-wire border fence and lower one of the ramps over to the U.S. side, while the other ramp slides down the back of the vehicle. Smugglers in SUVs loaded with drugs then drive across these mobile truck-bridges into Arizona without ever touching the fence. From there they race north across the desert to offload their contraband. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33433955/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/ (7)
October 2009: Border Patrol arrests Mexican and El Salvadorean gang members in Willcox AZ, matching their fingerprints to criminal databases.
August 2009: In response to our July release of our Hidden Cameras on the Arizona border video, Border Patrol mounts a 24/7 operation to close off alien access to prevent alien foot traffic from the border to the mountains where borderinvasionpics.com hides cameras. Agents tell our sources the effort will be permanent and it includes an increase in agents patrolling the area south of the mountains 24/7, scope trucks, quads. Further north where we showed photos and footage from other hidden cameras and pollution, agents are setting up tent cities and catching illegals there. Campgrounds are closed too, because the alien trash is attracting bears, and the bears are apparently more of a menace than the drug movers. At least temporarily, the video is working.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the National Drug Intelligence Center does a special report on Arizona’s Tohono O’odham Reservation’s 75 mile border with Mexico, noting that it is only protected by vehicle barriers, and wire gates, and as a result is one of the heaviest human smuggling and marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling corridors in the country, where pedestrians, horses and load vehicles easily pass through its remote regions.
April 2009: DHS Secretary Napolitano announces $400 million that is slated for Americans who have lost their jobs and homes must instead be redirected to securing the southwest border for better technologies at ports of entry. She also moves 360 Border Patrol from the northern border, but then cut the number of agents across the board eight months later. She realigns teams working on violent criminals, but does not seek more resources for the immigration and customs agents assigned to these teams to fight violent criminals, drugs, arms and cash smuggling. She provides an extra $10 million to the four U.S.-Mexico Border States, Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, but ignores requests for National Guard support.
March 2009: DHS Secretary Napolitano states in a press conference when asked about finishing the physical fencing in the southwest, that she will only “complete the sections that had already been begun and for which there already were appropriations.” A year later, she will kill the virtual fencing project in Arizona as well.
December 2008: Law enforcement agencies in the Nogales, Arizona area continue to receive information regarding the use of subterranean tunnels to transfer both narcotics and undocumented migrants from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico into the United States. The tunnels usually tie into the drainage system and at least 30 tunnels have been discovered between 1990 and 2008.
September 2006: A federal report’s statistics show that primary fences such as those built in San Diego beginning in 1990 caused a drop in illegal apprehensions by 74 percent, smugglers rerouted to Arizona where there were few barriers, and apprehensions there increased 591 percent. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff seeks to address the Arizona issue, announcing the Secure Border Initiative. But the initiative only begins with a virtual fence of 28 miles. Other varieties of fencing are to cover other parts of Arizona, but as it remains incomplete, illegal smuggling continues, pushing into the more remote regions shown by these hidden cameras.
But this is no different than in 2001, when a joint report to Congress by the Departments of Justice, Interior and Agriculture shortly after 9/11 states that “certain federal lands in southeast Arizona can no longer be used safely by the public or Federal employees due to the significance of smuggling undocumented aliens and controlled substances into the US” noting that “thousands of new trails and roads have been created on Federal lands by undocumented aliens” which destroys the sensitive desert environment. Those doing so also burglarize, destroy property, kidnap, leave tons of trash and high concentrations of human waste, vandalize and set wildfires. In the past three years alone, it is estimated that 8 million to 16 million tons of trash has been left behind.
June 23, 2010: The overtime cutback comes at a time that violence against the agents, according to Department of Homeland Security records, is up 31 percent this fiscal year.
,b>June 14, 2010: Some 23,000 people have died since 2006 as drug cartels vie for control in places such as Juárez and Tijuana along the U.S. border.
In 2009, the Department of Justice declared Mexican cartels to be the "greatest organized crime threat to the United States." Today, they have a presence in 230 U.S. cities (up from 50 in 2006), from Little Rock, Ark., to Anchorage, Alaska.
April 13, 2010: A U.S. surveyor looking for stone monuments that mark the US-Mexico border near Nogales, Arizona has a rifle pulled on him by a drug runner. The surveyor pulls his 9 mm but holds fire. The drug runner walks away then hears voices and has six shots fired at him. He “hit the deck,” according to the incident report and returned seven shots.
March 31, 2010: Texas Gov. Rick Perry orders a multiagency task force to Fort Hancock, Texas, where Mexican residents of the town El Porvenir 860 yards south of the U.S border are being left notes to leave within hours or their children will be killed, even threatening to come across the border and murder children in school unless ransoms are paid up front. About 30 flee across the border, requesting political asylum in Fort Hancock, Texas. The town’s mayor and his son have already been murdered.
March 28-29, 2010: A longtime Arizona rancher Robert Krentz is shot in the back on his own property about 25 miles northeast of Douglas, which sits on the border. The killer is thought to be an illegal on foot—perhaps a drug runner-- who got away despite his distance from the border.
March 27, 2010: The assistant police chief in Nogales, Sonora, and his bodyguard were killed in a barrage of gunfire from a Ford pickup truck opened fire with AK-47s about 3 miles south of the US border.
March 13, 2010: U.S. consular employee Lesley A. Enriquez, 35, who was four months pregnant, and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, 34, were gunned down as they were leaving the birthday party of a child of a U.S. Consulate employee. Their 7-month-old daughter is found wailing in the back of the vehicle.
February 16, 2010: Nogales, an Arizona border town, is ravaged by 98 murders in two months, more than 2006 and 2007 combined, apparently as a powerful drug cartel tries to seize the drug corridor through Nogales. As of February, Mexican Nogales is averaging more than one killing a day and nearly nine per week.
February 2010: Assaults against U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents increased 46 percent from 752 incidents in FY2006 to 1,097 incidents in FY2008. Contributing most to this increase were rocking assaults, which rose 77 percent from 435 incidents in FY2006 to 769 incidents in FY2008.
Mexican DTO members or associates acquire thousands of weapons each year in Arizona, California, and Texas and smuggle them across the border to Mexico. (National Drug Threat Assessment 2010)
January 2010: A 17 year old US citizen from a well-known Tijuana family who attended Catholic high school in California is assassinated, shot six times with an assault rifle.
Early 2010: A classified report provided by the government to Senators estimated 22,743 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels in December 2006, the press reported.
The most violent year of Calderon’s presidency, according to the report, was 2009, when 8,928 people were killed. The classified report estimates the death toll so far this year at 2,904. More than 70,000 suspected drug traffickers, mainly from the Gulf, Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels, have been arrested since Calderon took office. http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=355373&CategoryId=14091 (14)
December 2009: In December, a California assistant school principal, Augustin Salcedo, was killed after he was abducted from a restaurant along with five other men while he and his wife were visiting her hometown of Gomez Palacio, in the northern state of Durango. The motive for the mass abduction remains unclear.
August 2009: The Tucson sector accounts for half of all bodies found along the U.S.-Mexico border, making it the deadliest stretch on the southwest border, calls in an additional 209 agents to the already 3,300. The total number of deaths and the rate of death are both up sharply.
July 2009: Former Border Patrol officers release a series of homicide reports from Mexico that show that drug cartel fighting has set a new homicide record in the country, with 53 deaths in a 24 hour period, including a police commander.
May 2009: Tania Lozoya, 15, of El Paso, Texas, is killed by a stray bullet at her aunt's house across the border in Ciudad Juarez in May 2009, after gunfire broke out when two men chased another man into her aunt’s backyard.
2007: This report (Arizona’s 2008-2011 State Strategy: Drug, Gang and Violent Crime Control) has statistics on the number of drug seizures and arrests through 2007. Unfortunately, these numbers are not the most up-to-date.
April 12, 2010: A Homeland Security report leaks warning that Mexican drug smugglers are cloning Border Patrol vehicles to bypass law enforcement, some of whom were likely trained by US military. DHS warns that assaults against agents are up "16 percent compared to last year."
April 6, 2010: A global intelligence report estimates that narcotics profit margins in Mexico are about 80 percent, or a $32 billion profit on an $8 billion investment. The Mexican government has an interest in maintaining this high profit margin, to some degree, because the cartels do invest their profits in legitimate, money-making business.
February 10, 2010: Immigration agents are given a tip about an abandoned trailer at a warehouse in just north of the border in Nogales, Arizona. Upon obtaining a search warrant, they find 3,470 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $7.6 million. http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1002/100210nogales.htm
February 2010: Without a significant increase in drug interdiction, seizures, arrests, and investigations that apply sustained pressure on major DTOs, availability of most drugs will increase in 2010, primarily because drug production in Mexico is increasing. The most recent drug production estimates show sharp increases in heroin and marijuana production in Mexico and greatly reduced efforts to eradicate drug crops in that country.
Marijuana production increased in Mexico, resulting in increased flow of the drug across the Southwest Border, including through the Tohono O'odham Reservation in Arizona. Mexican DTOs have also expanded their marijuana cultivation operations into the United States, an ongoing trend for the past decade.
The amount of marijuana produced in Mexico has increased an estimated 59 percent overall since 2003. 13,500 metric tons estimated in 2003 to 21,500 metric tons estimated in 2008, all from Mexico.
Increased production for heroin in Mexico from 17 pure metric tons in 2007 to 38 pure metric tons in 2008, according to U.S. Government estimates.
From 2004 through 2008, heroin production estimates for Mexico increased 342 percent, from 8.6 metric tons pure to 38 metric tons pure.
Methamphetamine availability increased as the result of higher production in Mexico using alternative, less-efficient precursors.
As methamphetamine production declined in Mexico in 2007 and early 2008 as a result of precursor chemical restrictions, methamphetamine availability declined in the United States. By late 2008, however, Mexican DTOs had adapted their operating procedures in several ways including the smuggling of restricted chemicals via new routes, importing non-restricted chemical derivatives instead of precursor chemicals, and using alternative production methods.
A combination of factors, including increased law enforcement efforts in Mexico and the transit zones, decreased cocaine production in Colombia, high levels of cartel violence, and cocaine flow to non-U.S. markets likely contributed to decreased amounts being transported to the U.S.-Mexico border for subsequent smuggling into the United States.
June 2009: A National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy is announced, with the goal of “substan¬tially reduc(ing) the flow of illicit drugs, drug proceeds, and associated instruments of violence across the Southwest Border.” The National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that Mexican and Colombian Drug Trafficking organizations generate, remove, and launder between $18 and $39 billion in proceeds per year.
May 20, 2009: More than 60% of the illegal drugs in the United States enter the country through Arizona. It is estimated that 95% of the Mexican drug cartels' weapons come from the United States. There are more than 6,600 licensed gun dealers on the US-side of the border with Mexico.
March 17, 2009: The smuggling of marijuana, however, has increased in the past two years, according to the DEA, to meet an increased demand in the U.S. This is evidenced by the record seizures of the drug reported by the U.S. Border patrol in southern Arizona.
The Tucson Sector Border Patrol has seized more than 500,000 pounds of marijuana since Oct. 1, a 22% increase over the same period last year. Meanwhile, they have seized only 53.13 ounces of heroin, 65.25 pounds of cocaine and 6.39 pounds of meth.
"Since Monday we have had five cases of children age 17 and younger attempting to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico," said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. "On the other end of the spectrum, we had two people age 60 and over caught smuggling marijuana yesterday. This confirms that traffickers will employ any and all types of people in their drug smuggling attempts."
Early 2009: The U.S./Mexico border is the primary point of entry for cocaine shipments being smuggled into the United States. According to a recent interagency intelligence assessment, approximately 65 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States crosses the Southwest border.
2008 Federal Drug Seizures in Arizona
Cocaine: 1,905.8 kgs. – thru Mexico
Heroin: 152.8 kgs. – thru Mexico
Methamphetamine: 263.4 kgs – thru Mexico and locally produced
Marijuana: 351,992.4 kgs. – thru Mexico
Hashish: 6.4 kgs
MDMA: 0.0 kgs/47 du
Meth Lab Incidents: 10 (DEA, state, and local)
September 2007: U.S. federal law enforcement launches two major operations over the next year on Mexico-based cartels. In two years it will yield 600 arrests in the United States and Mexico, including lead¬ership, the con¬fiscation of 20 metric tons of cocaine and similarly caches of marijuana and methamphetamine, and the seizure of hun¬dreds of firearms and $76 million in cash.
April 19, 2010: An alien smuggler who held 31 illegal aliens hostage at a Tucson drop house, demanding ransoms in addition to fees already paid, is found guilty in federal court.
April 15, 2010: 800 federal agents and Arizona state police bust a massive human smuggling ring that goes to every major US city, using seeming legitimate shuttle van services catering to illegals from Mexico, Central America and China. The bust originates in Arizona, with 47 arrests in Phoenix, Tucson, and Nogales. ICE believes it will take a good deal of time for so sophisticated an operation to be put in place again.
May 18, 2010: The desert around the hamlet of Sasabe, a smuggling way-station of a few dozen houses, is a drug trafficking corridor used by the Sinaloa cartel. Migrants and Mexican officials say heavily armed drug traffickers have been demanding fees since at least 2007 to allow migrants to pass.
May 2010: The Arizona Department of Corrections reports that about 15% of inmates are “criminal aliens.” A recent estimate from the Maricopa County Jail system — by far the state’s largest — is that about 19% of suspects are undocumented.
March 28-29, 2010: Over the weekend of March 28, 29, three trucks carrying about 90 illegals unload about 45 miles south of Phoenix.
March 12, 2010: Fox News reports on San Diego University professors that have created a GPS cell phone application that helps illegal aliens avoid Border Patrol in the area while playing poetry. The app was created using government monies. America Live with Megan Kelly, FOX News, Washington D.C. 13 Mar 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZExWCBR9cg (23)
November 2009: Secretary Napolitano cites lower illegal immigration numbers, 600 miles of fencing, —much of it vehicular barriers and not pedestrian—and the hiring of nearly 20,000 Border Patrol sufficient security to seek “immigration reform.” She does not mention that there are still 400 miles of completely open, unobstructed border.
September 2009: A federal government watchdog agency states that SBInet, the technology component of a CBP program known as SBI, which is to help secure the nation’s borders and reduce illegal immigration through physical infrastructure (e.g., fencing), surveillance systems, and command, control, communications, and intelligence technologies, is fully operational along 28 miles of Arizona’s border. For those 28 miles, the cost has been about a billion dollars. Meanwhile, in the prior year, three Arizona counties have picked up 250,000 illegal aliens.
April 25, 2010: From a local AZ newspaper: the price of methamphetamines is increasing in Mexico and in Arizona, Anthony Coulson of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said. For example, Arizona meth prices ranged from $8,000 to $12,600 a pound in 2007. In 2009, the price was $14,000 a pound.
In Mexico, the wholesale price of meth ranged from $3,000 to $4,000 a pound in 2006. This year, that same pound of meth costs between $14,000 and $14,500, Coulson said.
February 2010: Mexican DTOs smuggled bulk cash drug proceeds totaling tens of billions of dollars from the U.S. through the Southwest Border and into Mexico. Much of the bulk cash (millions each week) was consolidated by the DTOs in several key areas, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and North Carolina, where it was prepared for transport to the U.S.-Mexico border and then smuggled into Mexico.
July 9, 2009: Mexican and Colombian DTOs generate, remove and launder between $18 billion and $39 billion in wholesale drug proceeds in the United States annually…a large portion of which is believed to be smuggled in bulk across the border back into Mexico. http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/cngrtest/ct070909.pdf (25)
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2. Diane Saunders, “Illegal Drug Trafficking is Flourishing,” Eastern Arizona Courier, 25 Apr 2010. http://www.eacourier.com/articles/2010/04/25/news/doc4bd23aa6e6feb251879...
3. Laura Meckler and Miriam Jordan, “Obama Blasts Arizona Law,” The Wall Street Journal, 24 Apr 2010. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870370980457520211013657616...
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11. Katie Engelhart , “Mexico’s drug cartels: Is Canada next?,” MacLean’s, 7 June 2010.
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13. “U.S. High School Student Assassinated in Mexico,” FoxNews.com, 6 Jan 2010. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,582345,00.html?test=latestnews
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