No area in the country is busier than the 250-mile swath of border known as Arizona’s Tucson Sector. Tightened security in Nogales is driving smugglers and illegal immigrants to cross through the rugged Baboquivari mountains and the desert near Douglas, AZ. Others are trying to overwhelm agents at the points of entry using new crossing and concealment strategies, and ‘shotgunning’ multiple drug loads through at once.
A group of 21 Mexican immigrants puts the coordinated efforts of Blackhawk, AMB and ground agents to the test. Blackhawk pilot John “Hammer” Manheimer struggles to keep up as multiple people fan out in all directions and the helicopter nearly runs out of fuel. AMB agents watch as one man leads a ground agent on an epic pursuit through treacherous peaks and washes, until he is finally coaxed by a bottle of water to give up the chase.
At Nogales Deconcini, Customs rail officers search an empty cargo train and discover “dummy drug bundles” —cardboard wrapped in materials typically used by smugglers. This leads officers to speculate that cartel spies are testing them, watching their every move from a point beyond the rail yard, looking to see what is found and what is not.
A customs officer using a surveillance camera alerts border patrol agents as a known fence coyote nicknamed “Socks” guides illegal immigrants over the border fence into downtown Nogales. And a recent shutdown of a major drug-running tunnel may have led to a spike in illegal traffic through the port. In a four-day period, officers have seized over a million dollars, and dozens of drug bundles. The tires on a seemingly ordinary truck sound suspicious when tapped by officers —and that tips off a marijuana seizure of close to 100 pounds. And a regular border crosser in a Mustang tries to head southbound carrying nearly $200,000 in cartel cash. These cash bundles put officers’ weekly take over 1 million dollars —a significant milestone in their fight against cartel smuggling.
When Border Patrol Agents find 50-lb bundles of marijuana in the Douglas desert, the scent of garlic leads the agents to a group of suspected mules who claim to be entering the U.S. in search of work. For a prosecution, agents face the challenge of tying these suspected smugglers to the bundles they found in a nearby location.
Tune in to Border Wars: Teenage Drug Mules, August 20th at 9P et/pt.