Border Patrol helping ORPI to map all roads

By Ajo Copper News staff

Ajo Copper News of Ajo, Arizona

Vicente Paco, community liaison with US Border Patrol at the Ajo Station, gave an update on agent activities during the recent meeting of the Western Pima County Community Council. He emphasized that the Ajo Station continues to partner with other local law enforcement agencies such as Pima County Sheriff's Department, Tohono O'odham Police Department, and rangers at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. One aspect of the partnership will result in a combined citizens academy patterned after the Border Patrol version. A date for the first session will be announced soon, he said.

USBP is helping with a land restoration project in the Organ Pipe monument. Paco said he was impressed with the 100-plus number of campers currently utilizing the campgrounds in the monument, commenting, "Whatever [ORPI staff] are doing to get the word out, it's working!" He noted that USBP is helping to convey the message that the border at the monument is safe and illegal border crossers don't want to bring attention to themselves by engaging in crime.

Indirect support is being provided to Organ Pipe staff with assistance in the mapping of established and rogue roads on the monument. Paco said the restoration project is looking at eliminating rogue roads, such as in cases "where two roads lead to the same place."

Ajo Station is getting "a bunch of new agents" to replace some who have transferred, according to Paco.

Support of USBP special operations and all-terrain-vehicle patrol is on the upswing at the Ajo Station due to a seasonal increase in illegal border crossing activity. Paco explained that drug smugglers generally do a "big push" before the hot summer months to get as much product across as possible. Another recent operation involved the use of Arizona National Guard troops to load and transport disabled patrol vehicles to a repair facility.

Infrastructure improvements include the installation of solar panels at the Highway 85 checkpoints. Another effort Paco mentioned addressed noise reduction in the desert to accommodate the sensitive Sonoran pronghorn.

Agents in Tucson Sector, of which Ajo Station is a part, seized 2,300 pounds of marijuana over a recent weekend. Responding to a question from the audience, Paco reported that marijuana is generally grown in the High Sierras in Mexico. He said the Ajo area is a major drug smuggling corridor due to its relative isolation. He said "high ticket" narcotics such as cocaine usually are smuggled through major ports of entry, but agents do encounter meth in the local area.

The USBP Explorer Program for youth is ongoing and "a great career choice for young adults". He said a high school diploma is all that is needed and, within 5 years, a motivated agent may become a supervisor with a salary of $100,000 per year.

USBP Ajo Station will again assist with the Roadrunner Rampage fun run later this month, noted Paco. He said he is always available for phone calls at 387-7002, extension 2706.

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