WASHINGTON (August 10, 2010) – Federal officials routinely assure the public that they are gaining control over the Arizona border. Despite these assurances, “Gaming the Border: a Report from Cochise County, Arizona,” shows why the border there remains porous, as illegal immigrants avoid the Border Patrol and walk around checkpoints on highways north of the border.
The video opens at the Cochise County ranch of John Ladd, whose family homesteaded the land in 1896. Ladd describes repeated sightings of illegal immigrants from his kitchen window. The report shows video of illegal immigrants running across his property to rendezvous with smugglers driving on nearby Highway 92.
The video also includes multiple scenes recorded by cameras hidden alongside trails through the 14,000-acre ranch. It shows not only dozens of illegal immigrants hiking northward, but also a group of three drug smugglers carrying bundles wrapped in burlap. That is the method smugglers commonly use to move marijuana to points where they rendezvous with vehicles that carry the load northward.
The illegal activity continues despite the fence that marks the border at the southern edge of the Ladd ranch. The report makes the point that the fence isn’t much of an obstacle, especially when the Border Patrol is not around.
The video shows that one of the most active smuggling corridors lies just west of the Ladd Ranch, through the Huachuca Mountains. It features excerpts from an interview with an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was part of a group of 11 persons that hiked over the Huachucas in November. After descending into the outskirts of Sierra Vista, the group was met by two vehicles that took them a short distance before dropping them off south of a Border Patrol checkpoint. They then walked around the checkpoint, meeting vehicles farther north that took them to Tucson. The illegal immigrant paid $2,800 to be smuggled from the border to Maryland, where he is now working in two fast food restaurants.
Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents non-supervisory Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector, also appears in the video. He talks about the Border Patrol’s lack of manpower to control the trails through the Huachucas and the flanks of the highway checkpoints.