The amount of smuggled marijuana seized at the Arizona border dropped 91 percent so far this past fiscal year while seizures of other, harder drugs have increased. It appears from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) data that hard drugs like methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cocaine supplanted marijuana as smugglers’ preferred substances.
The decreased seizures correlate somewhat with Arizona’s marijuana legalization through Prop 207, or the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act,” during the 2020 election. Arizona’s marijuana seizures dropped about 35 percent from fiscal years 2019 to 2020, and 71 percent from 2020 to 2021. (The CBP fiscal year runs from October to September).
Arizona’s seizures of meth dropped from nearly 20,800 pounds to nearly 18,900 pounds, nine percent, from 2019 to 2020, then increased by three percent from 2020 to 2021. It appears that this year’s meth seizures will remain within margin, though at present agents have seized 1,100 pounds less than this time last fiscal year.
Conversely, the state’s fentanyl seizures grew over the past three fiscal years. From 2019 to 2020, seizures increased 79 percent, then 65 percent from 2020 to 2021. If seizure rates continue as they have this year, there will be more fentanyl seized than in 2021: over 2,600 pounds.
Fentanyl, one of the deadliest street drugs per CDC overdose data, comes in the form of a pill to resemble its legal counterpart prescribed by doctors. Cartels like the notorious Sinaloa Cartel mark the synthetic opioid with an “M30” stamp to disguise it as the painkiller oxycodone, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical companies.
Overdoses may occur with as low as two milligrams of fentanyl. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that fentanyl accounts for the majority of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S.
According to the CDC, Arizona has one of the leading overdose death rates in the country.
Cocaine seizures dropped off in fiscal year 2021, but they’ve remained consistently high over the past three years. Seizures increased from over 1,800 pounds to a high of nearly 2,200 pounds, 19 percent, from 2019 to 2020 before falling by 59 percent in 2021. This year, however, cocaine seizures have rebounded at rates that may surpass 2019 levels and fall slightly behind or run even with 2020 levels.
Heroin seizures have dropped significantly since 2020.
John Modlin, chief patrol agent of Border Patrol (BP) Tucson Sector, last posted about the seizure of personal use marijuana in February, and a major seizure of marijuana in January 2021.
By comparison, Modlin has posted frequent updates about meth and fentanyl busts over the past year.
The chief patrol agent for BP Yuma Sector, Chris Clem, hasn’t posted about a major marijuana seizure since last March. However, Clem’s offered more frequent updates on meth, fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin seizures.
According to CBP data, the number of drug seizures across all border sectors have dropped consistently since 2013. The reduced seizures appear to correlate with marijuana legalization across numerous states, considering the vast majority of drug seizures were marijuana in eight of the past 10 years. All border states except Idaho, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.
In addition to Arizona, the following states have legalized recreational marijuana usage: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Additionally, recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, D.C.
In honor of Juneteenth, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Tucson Field Office announced that hours for the Lukeville Port of Entry would be extended.
The announcement came out a day after CBP released the May numbers for illegal immigrant encounters — another record high. CBP has also faced an increase in drug and human trafficking. Earlier this month, CBP caught a trafficker passing through the Lukeville Port of Entry with 45 pounds of meth in a fuel tank. That’s over 20,400 grams, enough to cause an overdose in over 10,000 individuals. Overdose rates on meth vary according to drug purity and individual tolerance, but overdoses have been reported in those who ingested just several grams.
Earlier this month, the Lukeville Port of Entry’s asphalt repair was the Biden administration’s first completed project through funding the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law includes $3.4 billion for 26 construction and modernization projects at land ports of entry like the one in Lukeville. The GSA estimated that the billions will create an average of 6,000 jobs over the next 8 years.
The GSA also claimed that these ports’ commercial capacity limits were putting further strain on the ongoing supply chain crisis.
Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, or “Emancipation Day.” The holiday celebrating former President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves originated with small church gatherings in Galveston, Texas in 1866. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation three years prior in the midst of the Civil War. At the time, Texas was part of the Confederacy, which explained in part why the proclamation wasn’t honored immediately.
Union troops’ enforcement of Lincoln’s proclamation occurred June 19, when they arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform Texans that the Civil War had ended. Union Major-General Gordon Granger read aloud General Order No. 3 to the people of Galveston, declaring all slaves in Texas to be free.
Modern Juneteenth celebrations have also become an avenue for further social justice advocacy, such as adopting diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, according to the founder of D.C.-based Juneteenth Foundation, Laquan Austion.
The holiday comes across as controversial for those who believe that Independence Day on July 4, the commemoration of the Declaration of Independence’s ratification, serves as the formal holiday for celebrating freedom and unity.
Last month the Professional Bull Riders rode into the Gila River Arena in Glendale for a weekend event which drew attention to the work done by U.S. Border Patrol employees and the job opportunities the federal law enforcement agency offers.
The PBR U.S. Border Patrol Invitational on March 12-13 featured the top 35 riders in the world putting on a show for more than 18,500 spectators, many of whom worked for USBP. The event, however, was more than a fun time – it is a way recognize the efforts of local employees and promote the numerous types of careers available within the agency.
“U.S. Border Patrol uses PBR as a tool to educate fans about employment opportunities,” PBR spokesman Andrew Giangola told AZ Free News. “PBR is one of USBP’s most effective means for attracting qualified candidates to serve in protecting our nation, according to the agency.”
USBP Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin recently gave a shout out to the PBR and the Glendale event on Twitter, sharing a highlight video celebrating the weekend’s rodeo excitement along with the service of the men and women of USBP.
Giangola says the U.S. Border Patrol has been a title sponsor of one PBR event a year since 2018. But the agency’s involvement with PBR is not limited to just its title event, as the USBP Honor Guard participates at many events across the country and the agency sponsors some of the sport’s top riders.
This year, that sponsorship includes Cooper Davis, the 2016 world champion; Keyshawn Whitehorse, the 2017 rookie of the year; Daylon Swearingen, the 2019 college bull riding champion; and Andrew Alvidrez, who has been a top 30 rider the last three years.
And then there are the bullfighters – PBR’s name for the safety workers who are on the dirt in the arena with the bulls and riders. At the recent event in Glendale, the bullfighters donned U.S. Border Patrol vests and other regalia, drawing even more attention to the agency.
Those who missed last month’s PBR event will have another opportunity later in the year to watch professional bull riding when PBR’s new Team Series comes to the Gila River Arena on Oct. 14 to 16.
The three day event is part of a 10 event season which will run from July to November with eight founding teams, including the Arizona Ridge Riders.
“Each stop on the schedule will be a real happening, with plenty of fun events for fans and opportunities to come together to rally around their team,” said Sean Gleason, PBR’s CEO and Commissioner. “It will be exciting to watch the local fan base in Arizona grow.”
The league will host its first PBR Team Series draft on May 23 with the Ridge Riders having the sixth draft pick. Each team will be comprised of seven riders and three practice squad members, with five riders per team competing at each event.
All PBR Team Series events will be carried on either the CBS Television Network, streaming live on Paramount+, CBS Sports Network, or RidePass on Pluto TV. The team championship will be held in Las Vegas.
Late last week, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) announced that detention facilities remain over-capacity, now over a year into the Biden Administration. The NBPC highlighted the Del Rio sector detention centers, all of which were filled to three times their limit and contained not only adults, but children.
The NBPC railed against federal Democratic leadership, specifically calling out Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) and the “lamestream lying media” for choosing to ignore the current situation despite visiting the border when no crisis existed under former President Donald Trump.
The latest data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed that a historic high of illegal immigrants encountered along the Southwest border in February: nearly 165,000. Around 76 percent of those were single adults.
Around the same time, the Biden Administration expressed concerns that lifting the COVID-19 border policies would result in a greater surge of illegal crossings. It’s unclear what data the Biden Administration relied on to believe that their COVID-19 border policies stymied the border crisis in any way, considering the record highs occurring just about every month since President Joe Biden took office.
As noted in separate reporting by AZ Free News and the Daily Caller, the steady stream of illegal immigrants have caused the Biden-prompted inflation and supply chain crises to be felt more heavily by the agricultural communities. Farmers and ranchers have had their land and equipment damaged or destroyed by illegal immigrants trekking through or fleeing law enforcement. In addition to the property losses, those working the land report increased safety issues due to the constant flux of trespassers.
One property owner, Brad Whitaker, explainedto the Daily Caller the extent of damages and heightened threats he and others faced due to the illegal immigrants. Whitaker said that the illegal immigrants have “no consideration for anything,” citing the masses of trash left behind day after day.
“They caught a convicted felon on the ranch here in November and then they just caught him again last night because he goes back and comes back,” said Whitaker. “Since this administration has taken over, it has just been a complete nightmare […] The holes in the fences that they cut, they come in, they’re tearing up the houses, my skinning shed out there, I can’t keep knives in it because they steal them. They’re pulling batteries out of the deer feeders and tearing up, pulling off the solar panels to charge their phones with. And the trash, it is just unbelievable how much trash.”
According to the latest data released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), law enforcement encountered nearly 154,000 illegal immigrants crossing the Southwest border. This number doesn’t include those illegal immigrants who evaded apprehension, known as “gotaways”: different than those who evade encounters entirely, or go through the catch-and-release process.
According to CBP data obtained through Border Patrol and by Townhall, CNN, and The Washington Postcompiled by the Republican National Committee (RNC), over 504,600 estimated gotaways have occurred since President Joe Biden was sworn in. Former and current border officials clarified that those estimates are conservative. National Border Patrol Council’s Rio Grande Valley Chapter Vice President and Spokesman Chris Cabrera told Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that the actual number of gotaways is likely “twice, if not three times” the Biden Administration’s November estimate of around 400,000 — which would be around 1.2 million.
As evidenced by the CBP chart “Southwest Land Border Encounters by Month,” encounters remain far above those over the last three years. Unlike the last three years, however, there’s been a sharp downturn in encounters from December to January. Similar sharp downturn trends occurred in 2016 and 2017. Overall, Southwest border encounters dropped about 14 percent from December to January: 19 percent for the Office of Field Operations (OFO) and nearly 14 percent for U.S. Border Patrol.
CBP’s latest numbers come nearly a month after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) toldReuters that the country should expect the border crisis to worsen throughout 2022. A majority of Arizona law enforcement expressed support for mitigation efforts proposed by Governor Doug Ducey: federal legislation to increase border security through completing border wall, physical barriers, and virtual surveillance; requiring asylum seekers to show proof of attempt to claim asylum prior to crossing and at a port of entry; increasing the number of immigration judges; and increasing funding for local law enforcement and humanitarian efforts.