EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A decrease in illegal border crossings has resulted in more border-crime arrests in West Texas and New Mexico.
The slowdown in immigration has allowed agents from the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector to focus attention on drug seizures and criminal apprehensions, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection news release.
Earlier this year, Border Patrol checkpoints closed so personnel could assist with the processing of asylum-seekers. But the four checkpoints near Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas reopened last month.
On Sept. 12, agents staffing the checkpoint on U.S. 54 south of Alamogordo, New Mexico, seized nine pounds of heroin and arrested two individuals. The following week, a Border Patrol canine alerted agents to 54 pounds of pot worth more than $43,000 inside a vehicle. Agents arrested the driver, a U.S. citizen, and turned him and the drugs over to the Otero County Narcotics Enforcement Unit.
On the same day, agents from Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station apprehended a 57-year-old Mexican man who served four years in for an aggravated sexual assault in September 1983, and who was deported in 2015 after being convicted of sexual assault of a child in 2002. He remains in custody pending criminal prosecution.
In Texas, agents from the Fort Hancock Station recently arrested a convicted sex offender wanted for failure to register in Austin. The subject awaits extradition at the Hudspeth County Jail.
On Sept. 13, agents conducting aerial surveillance near the Tornillo (Texas) Port of Entry spotted two individuals attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. Agents from the Clint Station responded and arrested two individuals attempting to smuggle about 93 pounds of marijuana in bundles.
“These incidents demonstrate how effective our skilled U.S. Border Patrol agents are when focused on the mission of National Security,” Gloria Chavez, interim chief for the El Paso Sector, said in a statement. “With this temporary reduction of migration flow at the border, our Agents are adding consequences to those involved in criminal activity, resulting in increased interdictions of people being smuggled, detention of criminals, and seizure of narcotics.”
Border officials credit an aggressive crackdown by the Mexican government on migrants traveling north. Last week the Trump administration said that from July to August it saw a 30% drop in the number of people apprehended at the southern U.S. border.
Agents returning to their primary assignments have also saved lives. On Sept. 4, four men entered the waterway along the U.S.-Mexico border in South El Paso, and two were swept away and struggled to stay afloat. Agents used rescue ropes to help bring the men to safety. One was taken to University Medical Center for treatment of water aspiration. During the rescue, agents discovered a body in an El Paso canal.
On Sept. 17, a subject who was attempting to the U.S. illegally fell into the American Canal near the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry, also in El Paso. Agents with Border Patrol’s Search, Trauma, and Rescue Team (BORSTAR) located a body entangled in rope and submerged in the canal. Agents apprehended two subjects who were with the person who drowned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.