Note: Blood pressure warning. Have to wonder what DOJ, DHS, ICE,
AZAG, PimaCSO, Pima Cty Atty, et al are doing these days? The
"guides" will still abandon the "chicks" in a second.
It is well known that the DTO's control the human trafficking also.
HUMAN-SMUGGLING GUIDES GETTING HELP FROM REV. ROBIN HOOVER
GPS-device giveaway is effort to save lives
Brady McCombs Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
12:00 am | Comments
RICH-JOSEPH FACUN / ARIZONA DAILY STAR 2003
The Rev. Robin Hoover, Humane Borders founder, memorializes migrants
who failed to make it safely across the harsh desert. Last week
Hoover traveled to Sonora to distribute GPS devices to trusted
How to help
To donate to the "Rescue Me" safety initiative, contact Robin Hoover
Fed up with decade-old strategies that have done little to slow the
annual summer onslaught of border deaths in Arizona, the Rev. Robin
Hoover is trying something new - giving out cellphone-sized GPS
devices in Mexico to illegal border crosser guides.
Hoover - the founder and first president of Humane Borders - believes
the initiative will help save lives. The Border Patrol worries it
could create false hope and cause even more death.
In an emergency, the coyotes can activate the personal location
beacons to send a signal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration satellite. When the satellite locates the signal, the
whereabouts are sent to a rescue coordination center operated by the
U.S. Air Force. Officials there then contact the closest law-
Hoover traveled to Altar, Sonora, a week ago to drop off five GPS
devices to older women who volunteer at the town's migrant shelter
because they know the young men who guide illegal border crossers
through Arizona's desert, he said. The women, whom Hoover has known
for a decade, will dispense the devices with moral instructions to
the guides: Use the devices only in emergencies.
Altar is a popular staging town for would-be illegal border crossers
from all over Mexico and Central America. It's about 115 miles
southwest of Tucson.
"I have a way of getting them circulated in a responsible, moral
way," said Hoover, who left Humane Borders 1 1/2 years ago. "I'm not
out there in the Altar town square giving them out like candy."
For the past six years, Hoover and others have been lobbying the
federal government to put up more 911 or cellphone towers in the
desert. About half of all Border Patrol rescues start with 911 calls
from illegal border crossers in distress. But those talks recently
came to a halt, Hoover said, prompting him to launch the new initiative.
"We're doing the ethical thing," Hoover said. "I'm trying to save
lives out here. ... The only thing you can do with that device is
call in search and rescue. I don't see any potential abuses."
The Border Patrol disagrees.
"It could actually have the opposite effect and encourage people to
cross illegally into unforgiving terrain because they have this
device to rely on," Border Patrol spokesman Steven Cribby said in an
Giving out the devices creates the same false hope that putting in
water tanks does, said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for
American Immigration Reform, an anti-illegal-immigration lobbying
group based in Washington, D.C.
"The way to prevent people from dying in the desert is to convince
them to not go out there in the first place," Mehlman said. "This
could wind up causing more people to go out there and risk their lives."
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said any help in locating
people lost in the desert would be helpful. Whether the people are
here legally or not, it's the county sheriff's responsibility to find
and rescue them.
Hoover knows the program is controversial. He already has lost
friends because of the initiative, called "Rescatame," or "Rescue Me"
in English, Hoover said.
"People that tell me I'm in collusion with coyotes," Hoover said in a
phone interview from Mexico City, where he's getting ready for a
Friday news conference about his initiative.
But Hoover is unwavering in his commitment. Not all guides, or
coyotes, are the morally corrupt criminals that the Border Patrol
portrays them as, he said.
Hoover has invested about $2,000 of his own money in the project,
spending another $1,000 that was donated to him on the devices and
travel, he said.
The personal locator beacons - made by McMurdo and called Fast Find
210 - cost about $225 each, Hoover said. They weigh about 5 ounces
and have batteries that last five years, he said.
He expects to buy more soon. Since he announced the initiative
Friday, Hoover said, he has received emails from people promising to
donate money for the effort.
It has been a deadly decade in Arizona's desert for illegal
immigrants, with the bodies of more than 2,000 men, women and
children found since 2001. Hoover formed Humane Borders in the summer
of 2000 and put blue water tanks throughout the desert. He
Other non-government groups were formed to set out water jugs and
offer first aid on the migrant trails. The Border Patrol formed a
specially trained search, trauma and rescue team called Borstar. The
Mexican government warns people each year through posters, and radio
and television ads about the dangers of the desert.
And the U.S. and Mexican governments operate a program each summer
offering free flights back to Mexico City to get people out of the
But none of it has worked. The 252 bodies recovered in Arizona in
fiscal year 2010 marked the deadliest year ever. Despite a
significant slowdown in illegal crossings, the number of bodies found
continues at the same or higher levels, indicating the route has
become more dangerous.
There were 118 known deaths per 100,000 apprehensions in the area
covered in the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector in fiscal year
2010, which ended on Sept. 30, the Arizona Daily Star's border-death
database shows. That's up from 88 known deaths per 100,000
apprehensions in 2009, 39 per 100,000 apprehensions in 2004 and three
per 100,000 apprehensions in 1998.
Through the first seven months of fiscal 2011, there have been 108
known deaths per 100,000 apprehensions.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: They keep telling us the Yuma sector is under "operational
control" but have to wonder why DTO's having so much activity just
south of it? Major busts on Mexican side lately. Yes, folks tell
us it is better, but, the dots don't connect.
Arizona border: Security differs in Yuma and Tucson regions
Yuma Sector under control, feds say; can strategy work in Tucson Sector?
by Dennis Wagner - May. 18, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Along a bleak expanse of U.S. border in western Arizona, where the
sun beats down mercilessly, Border Patrol agents nowadays spend a lot
of time listening to wind blow across the sand dunes.
Once a thoroughfare for hundreds of thousands of illegal border
crossers, the Yuma Sector now records barely 7,000 arrests each year.
The 126-mile stretch of landscape is the only southwestern border
segment listed under "operational control" by the Department of
That status, used to describe areas where officials are reasonably
ensured of capturing most crossers, was gained in 2006 when the
government launched a crackdown known as Operation Jump Start.
National Guard troops swarmed the area, building multilayered fences
and vehicle barriers along the entire Mexican line. The Border Patrol
tripled its number of agents. Observation posts, equipped with giant
spotlights, were established.
At the same time, the Justice Department imposed a new prosecution
policy, dubbed Operation Streamline. Instead of merely rounding up
illegal immigrants and dumping them back into Mexico, nearly every
person arrested for unlawful entry was charged with a crime,
convicted and imprisoned.
As word spread about the campaign, drug runners and human smugglers
abandoned their routes in the Yuma area. The number of illegal
immigrants apprehended in the desert plummeted from 138,460 in 2005
to 7,116 last year.
"It was chaos," said Rodolfo "Rudy" Karisch, acting chief agent of
the Border Patrol's Yuma Sector. "Now, we've been able to manage
it. . . . The border can be controlled if you apply the right
Critics, including Sen. John McCain, want to know why President
Barack Obama - who last week cited improved border security as he
called for comprehensive immigration reform - hasn't applied the same
resources to the Tucson Sector. Nearly half of all illegal-immigrant
arrests along the border take place in the Tucson Sector, where
narcotics seizures set a record last year.
Administration officials say even if they were to implement the same
resources (which they have come close to doing) in the Tucson Sector,
they would never achieve the same results because of the extreme
geographic differences in the neighboring regions.
Dennis Burke, U.S. attorney for Arizona and a former senior adviser
to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, said anyone who
believes identical strategies can work in the Tucson and Yuma regions
does not understand border dynamics. The two regions are "apples and
oranges" because of topography, he said, and because there are far
more staging towns for smugglers on the Mexican side south of the
"It's like something worked real well in Des Moines, and someone is
asking the police chief in New York City why he hasn't adopted the
same program," Burke said.
Officials say they are continuing to hone their strategy for the
A brief history
In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton developed a step-by-step plan to
restore the rule of law to America's Southwest, beginning in urban
Operation Gatekeeper, initiated in 1993 in the San Diego area, used a
surge of agents and other measures to combat illegal entries. A year
later, Operation Rio Grande achieved similar results in Texas.
Similar efforts over the years suppressed smuggling and stemmed the
flood of illegal immigrants in other areas.
But each time one border segment was controlled, the drug- and human-
smuggling organizations moved their operations to another location.
Experts use the analogy of a balloon being squeezed in many places at
once. Arizona became the last major squeeze point.
By the mid-2000s, Yuma had emerged as a giant bulge. President George
W. Bush sent in reinforcements under Operation Jump Start. Today, the
sector is so serene, so dull, that a recent Los Angeles Times article
told of agents dealing with a difficult new challenge: snoozing on
Smuggling operations moved east, into the Tucson Sector, which
extends 262 miles from Lukeville through Nogales and Douglas to New
Last year, nearly half of all apprehensions made by the Border Patrol
took place in that arena, a final piece in the enforcement puzzle,
according to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin.
"We acknowledge that the issue is Arizona," he said. "And we've
mounted the most active campaign to close that sector down."
Bersin added, however, that drug cartels and human-smuggling
syndicates have become more desperate and violent. "They will make a
stand here to try to preserve these smuggling routes. The death of
Agent Brian Terry (in a December shootout) is witness to that fact."
Beefing up a sector
A helicopter rises above Tucson, quickly leaving cityscape behind for
On board are Bersin and two other Department of Homeland Security
officials most responsible for securing the border with Mexico: Mike
Fisher, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, and Randy Hill, head of the
Border Patrol's Tucson Sector.
The administrators note that criminals who operated in Yuma for
decades now run their smuggling operations across the rugged terrain
below, competing for routes. Although tactics used in Operation Jump
Start are being employed in the Tucson Sector, they say, this is a
different environment: The region is tangled with mountain ranges -
the Chiricahuas, Huachucas, Patagonias and Baboquivaris - that
provide forest cover with few roads and limited radio access. Even at
lower elevations, the desert here is often thick with foliage and
marked by arroyos.
As the helicopter moves southwest, Hill points out old footpaths
zigzagging through the desert. A decade ago, smugglers entered the
United States through valleys, hiking only a day or so before meeting
pickup vehicles along the nearest highway. Now, even in the Tucson
Sector, enforcement is so intense they must trek several nights to
avoid a gantlet of agents, surveillance gear and checkpoints.
"We've pretty much cleared the desert," Hill says.
Bersin says fences have been reinforced in the border towns. Soldiers
were deployed last year. Border Patrol manpower has increased.
Operation Streamline, the "zero tolerance" prosecution of
undocumented immigrants, is being phased in. But escalation takes
time and money.
"Nobody in Yuma thinks that the border is out of control now," Bersin
says. "That is what we intend to accomplish here."
The chopper passes through jagged peaks on the Tohono O'odham
Reservation. Fisher nods toward vantage points where cartel spotters
can monitor Border Patrol operations, warning drug packers by radio
or cellphone where to go and when to hide.
"They'll walk right along these foothills, and when they spot one of
our guys, they go up into the mountains," he says.
The aircraft moves into a no man's land. There is no sign of human
presence except more foot trails, an occasional Border Patrol truck
and a vehicle barrier running along the edge of Mexico.
The pilot hovers near one of several new FOBs, forward operating
bases, where agents take turns on seven-day rotations, working 12-
hour shifts in the heart of smuggling country, far from paved roadways.
"The Marines have forward operating bases in Afghanistan," says a
voice in the chopper's headsets. "We have them in Arizona. The
purpose is to get them closer to the front."
George "Zach" Taylor, a former Border Patrol supervisor who has
testified before congressional committees, said the Tucson Sector
remains a major infiltration corridor because the countryside is
brutal with limited access.
Taylor, a founding member of the National Association of Former
Border Patrol Officers, served 26 years with the agency, the last 14
in Nogales. In interviews and written testimony, he said the
topography of Santa Cruz, Pima and Cochise counties provides a haven
for smugglers, far different than anything in Yuma.
But he said environmental regulations within wilderness areas and
wildlife refuges magnify the problem for border agents.
Taylor pointed to canyons west of Nogales as an example. Illegal
border crossers enter the Pajarita Wilderness, where agents struggle
with poor radio communications, inadequate roads and the threat of
armed bandits. Federal restrictions make it impossible to simply
bulldoze more coverage routes or build new radio towers, Taylor said.
And if Border Patrol takes the time to seek permits, smugglers move
on before work can be done.
Last week, Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., introduced legislation that
would allow Customs and Border Protection agents unfettered access to
federal lands on the southwestern border, voiding environmental
'Trends are right'
Aboard the CBP helicopter, Bersin talks about progress in the Tucson
Sector: A decade ago, 616,000 undocumented immigrants were captured.
Last year, even with far more manpower and technology, there were
Despite the drop in arrests, border violence seems to have
intensified. Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz was killed by
suspected smugglers. Terry, the Border Patrol agent, died in a
gunfight with bandits near Nogales.
Still, Bersin says, the numbers show illegal traffic is subsiding;
smugglers are being forced into the wilds.
"It's not inconsistent to say the border is safer and more secure
than it's ever been and to say there's more to be done," he adds.
As the helicopter lands at the Border Patrol station in Ajo, Bersin
is asked when the government will gain "effective control" of the
entire Arizona line.
"I wouldn't tell you it will be a year from now or three years from
now, but it could happen faster than you think," he says. "The trends
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/