Guard troops boost security, but not the county economy
By Hank Stephenson
Published Wednesday, May 4, 2011 6:20 PM CDT
Last fall, when 1,200 National Guard troops were sent to the U.S.-
Mexico Border as backup for the Border Patrol, Nogales Quality Inn
hotel owner Michael Clausen hoped to cash in on those extra bodies in
His hotel has plenty of good rooms to rent, and with troops being
shipped in from across the country for only a short stay here in
Arizona, he was hoping to get a contract to put at least a few of
them up in his hotel and help his business weather the recession.
But after more than six months of the National Guard troops being
stationed on the border, and with only one month left until they are
scheduled to depart, Clausen said he hasn't seen a dime in business
from the troops – and the National Guard said that any troops being
housed commercially are stationed in Tucson.
"There were a whole lot of us counting on the economics of having
them living down here, but as far as I know, nobody's benefited from
it," Clausen said. "I've not seen a National Guard person in the
entire time they've supposedly been here."
State leaders and Border Patrol officials have lauded the presence of
the Guard troops as a boost to Arizona's border security, and are
asking for their stay to be extended. But in Nogales, some officials
and hoteliers wish the troops could have made an economic impact as
Security and safety
Last week, Gov. Jan Brewer sent a letter to President Obama asking
him to extend the stay of the National Guard along the border,
saying, "I strongly believe that funding additional military
personnel for border operations is an essential part of the long-term
solution to security and safety, not just of border communities, but
also for Arizona, the southwest region and out country as a whole."
The Border Patrol is also thankful to have help from the National
Guard, said Border Patrol spokeswoman Colleen Agle. Since the
National Guard started helping out with everything from remote video
surveillance and mobile surveillance, to Entry Identification Team
sites (where they sit in well traveled smuggling areas and survey the
wall and surrounding area for activity), they have freed up more
Border Patrol agents to get out into the field, she said.
"The National Guard was an immediate measure, it was something that
could be deployed right now, and because of that it was very
helpful," Agle said.
"We would of course be happy to have them longer if that's the
decision that is made, but that's not our decision."
For the last two years, on and off, Clausen has had a construction
battalion stay at his hotel while building roads for the Border
Patrol, he said. Other groups of federal workers occasionally come
through town and stay at his hotel, and it has been a big boon to his
business when they do.
Clausen said he would also like the National Guard troops to stay on
the border – and he would like them to stay here in Nogales and help
the local economy while they're on their mission.
But the National Guard is also watching their budget, said National
Guard spokesman Lt. Valentine Castillo.
Castillo said most of the 560 troops sent to Arizona are stationed in
the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, which stretches from the New
Mexico border to the Yuma County line and includes all of Santa Cruz
Most of the troops serving in the Tucson Sector stay at Fort Huachuca
in order to minimize costs, Castillo said. The rest have been placed
in short-stay apartments in the Tucson area, he said.
"We tried to use Fort Huachuca facilities as best as possible to
minimize lodging costs, and when no more space is available, then we
go to commercial housing," Castillo said.
Mayor Arturo Garino is opposed to having National Guard troops on the
border because they are soldiers and this is not a war zone, he said.
But as long as they are here, he said, he would like to see them and
the other federal employees assigned to this area to lodge here, eat
here and buy stuff here – but when the budget comes from D.C.,
there's not a whole lot he can do to influence where troops stay.
"If we could fill up our hotels, our bed tax would help us a lot,"
Garino said. "And the restaurants would be a plus and even the
gasoline would help… but it doesn't always happen that way."
Note: just in time for summer
Horse patrol returning to BP's Sonoita station
By Marion Vendituoli
For the Bulletin
Published Wednesday, May 4, 2011 10:54 AM CDT
Border Patrol Agent Arturo Reyes says he is looking forward to having
the horse patrol up and running again at the Sonoita station. He
expects to have "hoofs on the ground" on May 13 or 14.
Agent Reyes, who will be supervising the program, will be in charge
of five agents. Three Sonoita agents who have recently completed the
three week training program at the Border Patrol horse facility south
of Willcox will join two veteran agents to form the new patrol. Reyes
says he hopes to eventually expand the program to 10 agents.
For now, there will be three to five horses assigned to Sonoita.
"Sector is still actively looking for horses," according to Reyes.
In the past the horses were stabled at the station, but space
limitations caused by the expansion of the Sonoita station make it
necessary that the horses be stables elsewhere.
Reyes plans to keep them at the Forest Service facility in Canelo.
One advantage of the Canelo site is that the horses will be stabled
closer to the area where they will be needed, although Reyes expects
to move the patrol all around the Sonoita area. "They'll be all
over the place," he said.
He plans to start off with just the day shift until all his men have
a chance to learn the country, and will then graduate to having the
patrol operate with all shifts.
Reyes does not know yet which horses he will be getting. He might be
getting some of the mustangs that the Border Patrol is starting to
work with, or they may be seasoned animals brought in from another
The Sonoita station lost its horse patrol in 2009. Ever since then,
there has been a good deal of public pressure to bring them back.
"Horses can definitely get in places that vehicles can't,"
rancher Marie Pyeatt said. "They can get in more places and they do
not tear up the land."
Credit to Hyatt
Last year, when Patrol Agent in Charge Michael Hyatt took over the
Sonoita station, he pushed to have horses returned to the station.
Hyatt, who had been stationed in Naco and Douglas, had seen the
contributions that the horse patrol made in that area.
"I never did understand why they stopped it," local rancher Joel
Bernstein said. "I think Mike Hyatt deserves a lot of credit. This
is his initiative."
Agent Reyes, a veteran of the horse patrol in San Diego and in
Sonoita, said he is pleased to have the program reinstated here.
"Horses are a vital aspect of our enforcement power," he said.
"And there's still traffic out there to chase."
Note: either a major advance in ultralight payloads or several trips.
Posted May 4, 2011, 7:45 a.m.
Throw drugs from ultralight aircraft
Sheriff authorities Santa Cruz County, reported the seizure of a
thousand 753 pounds of marijuana after detect and following an
The aircraft was detected by federal authorities who seized 1,753
pounds of marijuana
Nogales, Arizona - New Day
Sheriffato authorities Santa Cruz County, reported the assurance of a
thousand 753 pounds of marijuana after detecting and following an
ultralight aircraft was seen throwing suspicious packages from the sky.
The incident took place on the streets Via Frontera and Ruby Road in
the area of Rio Rico, Arizona, when a patrol of the Sheriff of
Santa Cruz County, found an ultralight aircraft flying over the area
at low altitude.
The patrol reported what he saw after he saw the pilot thrown from
the air several suspicious packages, suspected marijuana.
When Sheriffato authorities to the scene where the packages could
have been thrown, they found an abandoned vehicle with a cargo of one
thousand 753 pounds of marijuana.
The drug was secured and the case will be investigated by Task Force
Group Metro Santa Cruz County, the ultralight pilot returned to the
Mexican side of the border and never landed in the United States.
No one was arrested.