EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Criminals use cutting tools, grinders, and acetylene torches to breach the border barriers daily, the U.S. Border Patrol said.
While conducting patrols along the border last week, U.S. agents and Mexican authorities spotted two individuals cutting the fence from the Mexican side. The Mexican authorities arrested both individuals, according to a news release.
Photos the Border Patrol provided show authorities on both sides repairing a hole in an undisclosed section of the border barrier.
The barrier breaches have become a growing and costly problem for border authorities. So far this fiscal year, agents in the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector have encountered 714 barrier breaches, which include the use of makeshift ladders.
Depending on the type of barrier, the average cost to repair the breaches can range from $300 to $400. That has prompted the U.S. and Mexico to team up and establish a “fence cutter initiative” to prosecute perpetrators in either country.
“Here in the El Paso Sector, we continue to build bridges with our Government of Mexico partners to increase safety and security in our communities along our shared border,” El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said in a statement. “The fence cutter initiative is just another example of our strong collaborative binational efforts holding criminals accountable for their lawlessness that exploits migrants, Mexican nationals, and Americans alike.”
Officials say the existing barrier represents a challenge to transnational criminal organizations, and if left unrepaired, it becomes an exploitable access point.
Most of the breaches encountered in the El Paso Sector occur from downtown El Paso to Animas, N.M. Under the fence cutter initiative, within 12 hours after an apprehension, agents must present a formal complaint that includes an estimated cost to repair, images of the damage, and constitution of ownership of the International Border Wall System.