Cochise County hit hard by cartel smuggling efforts

  • May: CIT engaged in 36 pursuits, 32 smuggling events, 272 illegal migrants
  • Migrant encounters dropped, but smuggling pursuits nearly tripled
  • Sheriff's deputy: “We have not seen a slow, it’s not calmed down"

(NewsNation) — While the Biden administration has celebrated the reduction of migrant encounters at the border since the end of Title 42, it’s business as usual for the cartel when it comes to communities hit hard by smuggling.

Leading the nation in gotaways and fentanyl seizures, the Tucson Sector is home to Cochise County, where NewsNation rode along with the Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Team (CIT) for a first-hand look at law enforcement’s effort to crack down on drug and human smuggling efforts at the southern border.

“We have not seen a slow, it’s not calmed down, it is still business as usual for the cartel down south,” Cochise County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Essay said.

During the ride-along, the Cochise County Sheriff’s CIT and Border Patrol agents stopped a loaded vehicle where the driver, out of Tucson, said he learned about the so-called opportunity to make some easy money from a friend. He was caught transporting two men from Mexico who said they were trying to get to Phoenix, Arizona, to meet with a friend to work.

And while there are fewer migrants crossing between ports of entry to self-surrender to Border Patrol agents, border communities dealing with human and drug smuggling are seeing numbers go up.

In April, the CIT engaged in 13 pursuits and 26 smuggling events — 214 undocumented individuals were apprehended. 

But in May, when numbers dropped for encounters, pursuits nearly tripled. The CIT engaged in 36 pursuits and 32 smuggling events, leading to the apprehension of 272 undocumented individuals. 

“To hear from our federal government, our partners in the federal government that there is no problem, or that it’s been fixed, is very disheartening considering all the work that we do down here,” Essay said.

And while the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department is doing everything it can to stop people from moving unprocessed migrants into the interior of the country illegally, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to stop them from even reaching U.S. soil.  

The governor announced the deployment of a marine barrier that will be set up in the middle of the Rio Grande to prevent crossings. The governor said they are starting with 1,000 feet of the buoy barrier in Eagle Pass. 

The barrier has been in the works since January, sources confirmed to NewsNation.

The marine barrier comes as 14 Republican states are sending National Guard troops to Texas in a show of force.

Sources said that under the Biden administration, more than 1.5 million undocumented individuals have entered the country and successfully evaded law enforcement.

Border Report

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