One of the more interesting aspects of the battle to secure our borders is the tactics of the drug and people smugglers operating across the line.
I have talked to many ranchers who run cattle near the border and on the cartel smuggling corridors on US public lands north of the border to the outskirts of Tucson.
I hear the same story over and over….the smugglers have scouts all over the place on tops of hills and mountains watching what is going on and communicating with the coyotes down in the canyons when to move and when to hide from the Border Patrol.
The smugglers are avoiding roads and staying in canyons and washes where the Border Patrol can only go on foot or on horseback. The BP is mostly concentrated in vehicles on the road system. Aid workers looking to assist undocumented entrants in trouble confirm the road avoidance strategy of illegal entrants and smugglers.
The cowboys are seeing the scouts constantly. According to the ranchers, the scouts are camping on this high points for days at a time.
The cowboys are trying to avoid getting in the crossfire between the smugglers, bandits and others running around the back country with guns. They see the scouts, they go the other way.
One rancher, whose family has been down here since the 1850’s, described the situation is being similar to the Apache War…with the smuggler scouts using the exact same observation sites the Apaches did 150 years ago.
What is becoming very clear from taking to ranchers on this side of the border is that border security is very uneven…some areas have heavy saturations of Border Patrol and smuggling activities have virtually ceased. Other areas are still wide open to illegal entry and smuggling.
The smugglers adapt to the changing deployment of the Border Patrol and exploit the gaps. When the Border Patrol leaves a corridor unguarded, they move.
Ranchers have been demanding that more Border Patrol assets be concentrated at the border to stop the flow of people and drugs at the line. Not an unreasonable goal.
The smuggler scout situation is telling about the sophistication of the smuggling business. In a lot of the areas there is no cell phone service, so the scouts are apparently using satellite phones or radios.
I would have to guess that NSA and the folks over at Fort Huachuca are monitoring the sat phone and radio traffic along our border. Is this intel being shared with the Border Patrol? Isn’t there something that could be done to chase the scouts off the hills and mountain tops?
We have what is increasingly looking like a paramilitary level of activity on our border from the cartel side. Armed with automatic weapons and sophisticated communications, the cartelistas are escalating their attempts to use their smuggling corridors inside the US.
Meanwhile the Border Patrol agents drive all over the place on roads in their SUV’s showing their colors….but not stopping the flow at the line.
The ranchers know which hilltops are scout sites for the cartelistas. What is the Border Patrol doing to stop this?