CBP, partners gear up for new 'paisano' season
Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 8:15 am | Updated: 10:48 am, Wed
Dec 7, 2011.
CBP, partners gear up for new 'paisano' season By Jonathan Clark
Nogales International Nogales International | 0 comments
With the arrival of another "paisano" season, officials are urging
Mexican expatriates headed home for the holidays to prepare for their
return border crossing by understanding and following U.S. customs
and immigration requirements.
And in Ambos Nogales, authorities on both sides of the border are
encouraging the travelers to use the Mariposa port of entry on the
southbound leg of their journey - especially if they are carrying a
lot of merchandise.
Still, whether the paisanos are coming or going, they are likely to
encounter delays at the local ports of entry - especially with a $200-
million construction project underway at the Mariposa port. And so
the authorities are asking for their patience.
"Because of the volume, there's going to be certain delays," said Joe
Agosttini, assistant port director in Nogales for U.S. Customs and
Border Protection, during a news conference Friday at the Boys and
Girls Club to promote CBP's "Know Before You Go" campaign.
"(But) those delays are going to pay off, probably in November of
2014, when we have a brand new port of entry (at Mariposa) with 12
lanes coming into the United States, and eight lanes of cargo for
In the meantime, travelers can help speed up the return process by
having up-to-date identification documents and by following the rules
for bringing merchandise into the United States.
For example, Agosttini said, U.S. citizens should be sure to have
citizenship documents like passports or passport cards that meet the
requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
Also, travel documents outfitted with radio chips, known as RFID,
allow people to use the expedited Ready Lanes for vehicle entry into
the U.S. And most of all, Agostinni encouraged people to join CBP's
SENTRI program for trusted travelers, which gives participants the
fastest border crossing option of all.
CBP recently installed pedestrian SENTRI lanes at the DeConcini and
Morley ports of entry, Agostinni noted, and he said the agency is
working with its partners on the Mexican side to add a second SENTRI
vehicle lane at DeConcini.
Eloy Cortez, also an assistant CBP port director in Nogales, said
local port officers have been keeping an eye out for southbound
travelers who fit the paisano profile and handing them "Know Before
You Go" pamphlets.
"It gives you some good tips on what things you should declare, the
things you should be bringing back - or not bringing back, more
specifically," he said.
By following the rules and not trying to sneak in forbidden
agricultural products like apples and oranges - or even pet birds -
travelers can avoid fines that start at around $300, he said.
"The key is to declare what you have and you should be in good
shape," Cortez said.
Spread the word
Representatives from the Mexican government, the City of Nogales, the
local produce industry, downtown merchants association and port
authority were on hand for the event, and the CBP officers asked
these "ambassadors from the community" to spread the word among
travelers about U.S. travel requirements - as well as the
consequences of not complying with U.S. laws.
Mexican Consul Jaime Paz y Puente, whose government has its own
"Progama Paisano" to aid holiday travelers, said his staff would
spread the word at the consulate in Nogales, and Veronica Dimas,
deputy administrator for Mexican Customs in Nogales, Sonora, said her
office has been distributing "Know Before You Go" pamphlets as well.
In turn, Dimas asked her partner agencies on the U.S. side to
encourage paisanos - especially those with loaded-down vehicles - to
use the Mariposa port, since Mexican Customs has a more spacious
facility on the south side of that port.
Assistant Chief Roy Bermudez said the Nogales Police Department,
which plays a support role to CBP during the paisano season, has
already been following that approach.
"At the present time, we're encouraging paisanos to take the Mariposa
road exit," he said. "That way it will be easier for Mexican
authorities to process them."
Outbound traffic issues
As for CBP's outbound inspections on the U.S. side, "vigilance will
be at the utmost," Agosttini said.
Mayor Arturo Garino said he knows people get frustrated with the
traffic backup along Arroyo Boulevard leading to the DeConcini port,
and they often blame the congestion on CBP's outbound inspections.
But he praised CBP's efforts to stem the flow of contraband into
Mexico, and said the congestion was a reality long before the
outbound checks began.
"I remember back in 1984, in 1985 when I was a patrol officer, we
were doing traffic control all the way to City Hall," he said.
And if the paisanos get frustrated with the backups on the U.S. side,
Garino has some advice for them.
"If they think the line is too long, hey, we've got hotels, we have
restaurants," he said. "Stay in Nogales, enjoy the city."
As for the number of paisanos who will come through the area this
year, Mexican Customs officials said they are preparing for an
increase, while Agosttini said CBP is prepared for at least the same
number as last year.
Speaking about other extra efforts by CBP to respond to the holiday
season, Agosttini noted that it has extended the hours at the Morley
gate to accommodate holiday shoppers downtown, and is prepared to
keep lanes at Mariposa open if there is still traffic waiting to
cross at the normal 10 p.m. closing time.
At the DeConcini port, he said, "we're going to make every effort to
keep every lane open so we can process the excess volume that we
normally see this time of year."
Find details of the "Know Before You Go" campaign as well as other
travel tips at: www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel
23 people found inside suspected Avondale drophouse
by Raquel Velasco - Dec. 8, 2011 11:50 AM
The Arizona Republic
Sixteen people were found severely injured after police served a
search warrant at a drophouse in Avondale late Wednesday, officials
A Department of Public Safety task force served the search warrant at
about 7 p.m. Wednesday at the house in the area of 109th Avenue and
Inside the house were a total of 23 people including seven suspected
human smugglers and 16 victims, authorities said.
When officers entered the house, the suspected smugglers attempted to
run out of the master bedroom, severely cutting themselves in the
Two of the victims had broken ribs, cuts and bruises and were
believed to have been beaten by the smugglers, according to DPS.
Authorities found two semi-automatic guns and several pounds of
marijuana in the house.
Four of the men inside the house are facing charges of armed robbery,
kidnapping, extortion, human smuggling and aggravated assault.
DPS said they believe this is one of the most severe cases of abuse
in a drophouse they have investigated.
The 23 people are believed to be undocumented immigrants and were
turned over to immigration authorities.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/