Drug Smuggling, Theft, Violence: Uneasy Ranchers Worry about Rising Crime on the Arizona-Mexico Border
- [Chuck] Warner Glenn'sfamily first settled here
along that Arizona-Mexico border in 1896.
At 83 years old, Glennworks the ranch each day,
and is well known throughout the area.
He says illegal immigrants
have always been a part of the landscape.
- We moved down here in'62, and at that time,
there would be two or threeillegals comin' through
and lookin' for work,
and all the ranchersworked 'em on and off.
They were wonderful for,especially hard labor type work,
and good cowboys if you needed a cowboy.
But I'll tell ya, nowadays,the few that are comin' through
are pretty hardcore,especially the drug guys.
- [Chuck] And now, residents on the border
are seeing an overall rise in crime.
- When they come back,if they go by a residence
and nobody's there, they'regonna go in and look around.
And firearms, top of the list.
Any kind of jewelry, top of the list.
Cash, top of the list.
- We don't lock the doors
'cause they'd justbreak the window anyway.
- [Chuck] Billy Grossman lives nearby,
and illegals have enteredhis home a number of times.
He recently caught a smugglertrying to steal his truck.
- Well, I brought him back to the house,
and my wife called the sheriff,
and the sheriff fromborder control come out
and got him, and then wewent back to the pickup
and there was a bale of marijuanain the back of my pickup,
and he had stoled a lotof stuff from the house.
- [Chuck] But petty theft
isn't what worries theseold cowboys the most.
- And that would be nothin' to a terrorist
from ISIS or with these guys.
And it'd be just a cakewalk for them
to go up through these mountains.
- Well, if it's that easyfor an unemployed Mexican
to walk across here, ISISplum, come in here plum simple.
- [Chuck] In fact, 3755known or suspected terrorists
were prevented from traveling to,
or entering the United States
by the Department of HomelandSecurity in fiscal year 2018.
This is one of theloneliest border crossings
on the US southern border.
It's on the Tohono O'odhamIndian Reservation,
which is about 4000 square miles of desert
on the US southern border in Arizona.
The Tohono O'odham people
live on both sides of the border,
and they used to cross with impunity,
but it's getting hardernow for them to visit
their relatives, becauseof the incredible amount
of human smuggling and drug trafficking
that happens in this area.
Unemployment on the Reservationsits at more than 25%,
while the average annualincome is only 8000 dollars.
This makes smuggling anattractive proposition,
when cartel members offerup to 5000 dollars per load.
Matt Thomas is a deputy in Pinal County,
just north of the Reservation.
- That is all open desert,and there's small villages
throughout the Reservation,but no major towns,
no major cities, very minimal population,
very minimal law enforcement,
so they don't have a lot ofinterference to deal with
between Mexico and whenthey hit our county.
There's a huge area that the cartels use
to cross into the US,where they go undetected,
and as they cross into that area,
then they start to funnel,because of terrain,
towards our county.
- [Chuck] That makescatching these smugglers
more and more challenging.
And this corridor has becomeknown for violence too.
Last year a border agentwas shot by smugglers
as he patrolled alone in the vast desert
west of Nogales.
- Those that wanna come inthis country and harm us,
terrorists, have the infrastructure
to get through here in Cochise County.
- [Chuck] Cochise CountySheriff, Mark Dannels,
oversees a border county
covering more land than Connecticut.
He says, when the government
fails to take a strongstand on immigration,
it only makes things worse.
- Any time this administrationtalks about amnesty
or anything that hasto do with the border,
we have an influx of people comin' across.
We sit back all the time and just wonder,
why won't they do somethin'to fix this problem.
- [Chuck] President Trumphas so far had difficulty
making long-term changesto truly stem the tide.
And while the politicians point fingers,
the cartels are ramping up their business.
Over the last 10 years,the amount of cocaine
coming across the southernborder has more than doubled.
The amount of Methamphetamine,Fentanyl, and heroin seized
has increased as much as 4000%.
While the 5000 members of the US military
currently deployed along the border
bolster existing barriers,
the additional air assets they provide
are also giving border agentsa faster way to respond
when they get alerted.
- Its been a great partnership.
We've had extreme success.
Just the other day, wewere able to apprehend
three different groupswithin a two hour window.
And traditionally, if wewere just on the ground,
that could take one agentabout four to five hours
to apprehend one group.
- [Chuck] With the cartels rushing
to take advantage of the crisis,
and with Congress andThe White House at odds
about solutions, the troops on the border
are going to stay aslong as they are needed.
On the US-Mexico border, I'm Chuck Holton
for CBN News.