Why You Should Be Concerned About What’s Happening at the Arizona Border


Bell showed me just how rugged and unforgiving this stretch of land can be, which has also been referred to as the 150 miles of Hell. As we traveled, Bell pointed out the deterrents and technology now employed by the Border Patrol in cooperation with the ranchers and land owners in order to monitor this stretch of the border.

Image: Jennifer Humphries

"Generally what we see here are the more desperate crossers." said Bell, when asked to quantify the type of person moving across the area where his cattle are grazed. When I asked him to clarify, he told me that the person utilizing this stretch of the border is less likely to be a migrant in search of work but rather somebody working under the direction of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Whereas the South American children we have seen in the recent news seek out Border Patrol officers to turn themselves in, those attempting to enter the U.S. in the southern Arizona sector wish to completely avoid detection.

On my several hour tour, I saw five or six Border Patrol agent teams as well as two mobile satellite systems, which are recent additions to the border security infrastructure. And yet the Border Patrol is still outmanned and, more importantly, outgunned. Even more so now that crucial Border Patrol resources are being diverted to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors.

Bell asserted that through the southern Arizona corridor the vast majority of traffic—including migrants—is controlled and monitored by the cartel. The cartel's first priority is to move their loads of drugs through the area employing scouts who monitor Border Patrol positions from mountain peaks on both sides of the border. Many times, groups of crossers are used as diversions in order to move Border Patrol agents away from the more lucrative drug shipments moving simultaneously through the area.

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