Friday, June 2, 2017
AZMEX UPDATE 2-6-17
AZMEX UPDATE 2 JUN 2017
New leaders for two Border Patrol stations
7:50 PM, Jun 1, 2017
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There are two new leaders taking on the challenge of two busy Border Patrol stations.
The 500 agents at the Nogales Border Patrol station will be led by Sabri Dikman.
John Scanlon will be commanding about 180 agents at the station in Willcox.
They've both seen a lot of changes in their 19 years as agents.
John Scanlon says drug smuggling used to have more small operations. Now they're large, criminal networks.
He says, "Now one of the challenges we come across in Willcox is adjusting quickly to changes in smuggling tactics. So where as maybe ten or fifteen years ago we would see ten or fifteen aliens in a car, now we see one or two aliens in the trunk, vs a more packed car. As far as narcotics smuggling we get cases like a hearse that has a coffin full of narcotics, that came out in the news so as the smuggling tactics change we need to adjust quickly to adapt to that."
The agents say illegal crossing have been going down but border concerns mean recruitment for new agents is going up.
"It's a phenomenal job, great career and once they are hired and are on duty at the station we set them up with peer mentors to help them assimilate to the local environment."
And the agents hope civilians understand they are your neighbors working to keep the community safe.
Feds don hazmat suits during suspected fentanyl bust in Rio Rico
By Arielle Zionts
Nogales International 14 hrs ago (0)
Fentanyl is so dangerous, law enforcement officers use personal protective equipment to handle it, as seen here in a photo taken after a seizure in April at a Nogales port of entry.
A Rio Rico home suspected of housing a dangerous narcotic was searched by federal agents wearing hazmat suits last month while local first responders stood by in case of an emergency.
Ray Sayre, director of emergency management in Santa Cruz County, said in situations like this where the synthetic opioid fentanyl is suspected to be present, it's a "no-brainer."
"We're going to use the highest level of protection that we have," he said.
The Santa Cruz County Regional Hazmat Team – consisting of personal from the Rio Rico, Tubac and Nogales fire districts – was dispatched to the site during the May 8 search in case they needed to decontaminate an agent exposed to the substance, Sayre said. A paramedic team with naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid effects, was also on standby.
Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed that agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations executed a federal search warrant for drug possession at the home on Paseo Cieneguita. However, because the warrant is sealed, she could not say if there were any arrests or what substance or scenario (a laboratory, distribution site, etc.) they were looking for.
Sayre said the home was suspected of housing fentanyl, a painkiller 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine that can cause respiratory distress and eventual cardiac arrest. He noted that fentanyl can be used safely and legally when administered by medical professionals.
According to the DEA, fentanyl comes in several forms including powder, blotter paper, tablets and spray. Its dosage amount is a microgram, about the same as a few granules of table salt, and can be deadly even at very low doses.
Sayre said the identity of the substance at the home was not confirmed on site because there is no field test for the drug. In case it was indeed fentanyl, he said, HSI agents wore hazmat suits with self-contained breathing systems because the drug may have been airborne and can be ingested via the mouth and skin.
The DEA has warned law enforcement, public health workers and first responders about the deadly hazards of contact with fentanyl, and two cases last month show the reality of that danger and the growing concern over exposure. In Ohio, a police officer accidentally overdosed when he came into contact with powdered fentanyl while searching a vehicle, and in Manitoba, Canada, a postal worker refused a paramedic's 911 instruction to perform CPR on an unresponsive woman because he feared the woman had overdosed on fentanyl.
Neither Sayre nor Genaro Rivera, assistant fire chief at the Tubac Fire District, who was at the Rio Rico home on May 8, knew how much of the drug was found there or whether it was being manufactured, sold or used for personal consumption.
Sayre said after the HSI agents completed their search, they locked the house and covered it with signs and stickers warning not to enter. If the substance is confirmed to be fentanyl, the homeowner would need to hire a professional decontamination company to clean the property, he said.
As a synthetic opiate painkiller, fentanyl is being mixed with heroin to increase its potency, exacerbating the opioid crisis in the United States and Canada. That crisis has largely bypassed Santa Cruz County – overdose deaths were so uncommon in 2014 that the Arizona Department of Health Services could not provide a reliable statistic for the county – but local authorities are concerned that the trend could change.
"If we look at it from a nationwide perspective, it looks like everybody is seeing traces of (fentanyl)," Rivera said, adding: "I think there's more of it to come (in the local area)."
Sayre agreed, saying: "We suspected that we were going to have this issue come forward because it's happening all over the United States and that's what's called the opioid crisis."
He said while fentanyl and similar opioids have been apprehended at the border in Nogales, this was the first time his office responded to an instance where the substance was suspected of being stored in a local home.
In late April, a man was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for smuggling 23 pounds of fentanyl worth $378,000 through the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry. Early that month, CBP officers used protective equipment to remove five pounds of the drug from a woman smuggling the substance in her infant's stroller at the Morley Avenue pedestrian crossing.