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Open border gates in Arizona act as fentanyl highway for cartels

  • A string of border gates are kept open for three months due to flooding
  • Cartels take advantage of them with a swell in drug and human smuggling
  • One migrant support volunteer says 'it's a crisis' there

(NewsNation) — Open border gates in Arizona have become a cartel “superhighway” for human and drug smuggling.

114 gates along a stretch of border in Lukeville, Arizona, are kept welded open by the Arizona Department of Safety from June 15 to Sept. 15 due to flooding during the monsoon season.

This gives cartels 92 days to take advantage of an open entryway in Arizona’s Tucson sector.

“Unfortunately, those same drug smugglers, those same drug cartels are the ones that are controlling the flow and knowing that, ‘Hey, throw individuals across the border, it’s really easy. Just ask for asylum.’ Now the agents have to transport you, and that gives them time to bring drugs across,” said Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.

Thousands of people will stream through these gates until they close in September, with 1,450 coming in just on Monday.

This constant flow of migrants is overwhelming humanitarian groups as well as border patrol.

“There was no border patrol yesterday for some reason, they were having a hard time transporting,” said a volunteer with Humane Borders, Barbara Jones. “We were out of cold water and they literally rushed the truck and the door got opened and they did take all the food, but it’s because they’re hungry so it is definitely a crisis down here.”

The Tucson sector averages about 1,400 migrants daily, amounting to nearly 129,000 people who could be taking advantage of these open gates.

The location is also perfect for cartels, with a truck stop on the Mexican side where smugglers can load supplies and no agents from the Department of Public Safety or the National Guard patrolling the area.

The gates are also just a few miles from the Tohono O’odham Reservation, known as a hub for drug and human smuggling. Drugs are brought into the reservation by cartels before being distributed throughout the county.

“On the Tohono O’odham Nation, there is no border wall. About 50% of our traffic comes from funneling people through that,” said sector chief Jason Modlin on Capitol Hill back in February.

Because it is tribal land, federal agents can do little to nothing to stop them.

“It’s a sovereign nation. So they have their own rules on where you can patrol, where you can’t patrol,” Modlin said. “There’s a misconception that agents cannot patrol there, they can, but it’s limited the resources that they can use there. And who knows this, the cartels, the cartels are very much aware of that.”

On the other side of the reservation sits Nogales, the epicenter for fentanyl smuggling. Over 43 million pills have been seized this fiscal year at that port of entry alone.

The migrant activity in Arizona is in stark contrast to Texas, where Operation Lonestar is stationing troopers and National Guard soldiers along the border as far as the eye can see.

Meanwhile, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has dismantled the Arizona DPS Border Strike Force, saying it is not a force and it is not striking at the border.

Border Report

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