During the night of March 23, 2012, illegal activity was significant along 12-mile stretch of border in the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in Arizona and extending into the United States northwest about 80 miles to the Sonoran Desert National Monument's Vekol Valley on I-8 and about another 20 miles north of the interstate. None of this area is privately owned; it is all owned and operated by the federal government with the exception of the Tohono O'odham Nation's border property.
A best estimate of what the Border Patrol tracked in the four maps below — they do not state how many of these illegal aliens, vehicles, or drug mules were apprehended — is as follows:
Ariz. Maps South to North
Bad Guys LPOP
|A. Border/East Tohono O'odham||330||10||1||0||0||0|
|B. Barry Goldwater Firing Range N of Tohono, S of Sonora and I-8||0||13||1||3||1||0|
|C. Sonora Desert at I-8 at Vekol Valley Area||20||"unk"||4||0||0||0|
|D. 20 miles N of I-8||0||5||4||0||1||1|
The entry of 330 illegal aliens through Tohono O'odham in one night over a 12-mile stretch of border is shockingly high. Over the course of a year, that would be 120,450 illegal entries just along these 12 miles of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector. If illegal entry were equal across the 286 miles of Arizona border (which admittedly it is not), that would mean the illegal entry of 7,865 illegal aliens per night or 2.87 million per year just in Arizona. If the entire 1,969 miles of the southwest border experienced the level of illegal entry that Arizona west of Nogales does that would be 649,770 per night or 2.38 billion over the course of a year. Of course, the numbers are nothing like that (although we do not know the actual number), but the destruction and illegal use of federal taxpayer lands and the great chance of success that the drug cartels and alien smugglers have tell a story of a border where illegal activity is high and the border remains out of control.
As to actual apprehensions, Rep. Culberson (R-Texas) provided these statistics to a 2011 congressional hearing, extremely small compared to the level of illegal activity noted above:
Of 447,731 illegal aliens apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol during fiscal year 2010 (which ended last September), only 73,263 (16.4 percent) were prosecuted, according to the submitted data. That means that 374,468 illegal aliens that were taken into custody (83.6 percent) were never prosecuted.
According to Culberson's figures, of the 212,202 apprehensions along Arizona's Tucson sector — which is where most of the apprehensions took place in FY 2010 — only 30,748 (14.5 percent) led to prosecutions.
Equally significant is the drug activity on March 23, including at least 28 drug mules hiking toward I-8, nine vehicles (including one chase), and an ultralight plane dropping drugs about 100 miles north of the border surrounded by three drug vehicles, likely awaiting pickup. The drug chase alone yielded 10 to 15 illegal aliens. Considering the willingness of the cartels to use any means necessary to move their loads, every suspected drug vehicle requires law enforcement's utmost vigilance; safety is always a serious risk today in these situations. Ultralight planes represent a new drug cartel tactic, making brief excursions to drop drugs over the border. The cartels know their planes may be tracked, but are unlikely to be busted in the same manner as a ground vehicle, if ever. The Border Patrol, Bureau of Land Management, and Pinal County law enforcement all were tracking and apprehending illegal crossers on March 23. The maps only note one drug bust, but may not show all apprehensions.
Also interesting is that the entry point for the border activity on these maps continues to be just west of the much maligned Secure Border Initiative (SBI) in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge that provides a common operating picture for Border Patrol agents, making apprehensions safer, more efficient, and more successful. While Buenos Aires activity is light — perhaps in part because SBI technology has resulted in increased apprehensions — Tohono O'odham has no border technology or fencing of note, making it a more attractive route for illegal entry.
These are the same areas I documented in my series, "Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border", which show videos of activity in this region. The July 2010 film features both illegal alien footage and armed drug mule footage. The September 2011 film focuses on Vekol Valley and the modus operandi of the drug cartels in moving drugs to the east-west I-8 corridor where Maricopa and Pinal Counties share a border.
This is our "secure border" in action, with extremely high levels of illegal alien entry and drug activity. The relevant maps are below, arranged from south to north.