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Border Patrol drug seizures up, arrests down
The Brownsville Herald

November 17, 2006 — Border Patrol operations in the Rio Grande Valley for fiscal year 2006 yielded higher drug seizures and lower apprehension rates than the previous year, according to the agency.

Through a combination of manpower, technology and operations, the Border Patrol in the Valley boasted the most productive checkpoints in the country and a sharp decrease in other than Mexican (OTM) arrests, spokesman Roy Cervantes said.

Fiscal year 2006, which ended in October, was an eventful year for the agency. The National Guard joined the patrol in the Valley for Operation Jumpstart, a national effort to secure the border.

A new policy that mandated 100 percent detention contributed to a decline in total apprehensions, Cervantes said.

“The hard work of our agents and the right combination of technology, coupled with the deterrent factor of 100 percent detention has contributed to a decrease in apprehensions,” he said.

Valley Border Patrol agents seized more cocaine than any other sector in the country, a 140 percent increase over fiscal year 2005, and came in number two for marijuana seizures. The total value of all drugs seized in fiscal year 2006 surpassed $423 million.

“Technology plays a big role in the seizure of narcotics in the sector,” Cervantes said, adding that marijuana seizures continue to rise.

Total apprehensions were down this year as well, the agency reported. The Valley sector of the Border Patrol has the highest number of OTM immigrants in the country and reported a 35 percent decrease in OTM arrests.

The agency prosecuted 6,249 cases in federal court for charges ranging from illegal entry to alien smuggling. A 61 percent increase in alien smuggling cases this fiscal year also yielded 2,072 vehicles seized from smugglers.

Cervantes attributed part of this increase to agency initiatives aimed at intercepting smuggling loads along U.S. Highway 281 and Highway 77 before checkpoints.

Agents found 546 people primarily from confined spaces, such as railroad cars and tractor trailers, in fiscal year 2006, compared to 159 last year,.

The agency also reported a total of 55 assaults against agents, including shootings, rock throwing, vehicular assaults and threats.

The Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley sector seized more cocaine than any other sector in the country in fiscal year 2006. Total apprehensions, including the other than Mexican category, are down significantly, as well.
Total apprehensions down 18 percent
OTM apprehensions down 35 percent
Total value of drug seizures $423,048,768
Highest cocaine seizures in the country: 7,186
Second-highest marijuana seizures: 22,842
Smuggling cases up 61 percent
76 Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang members arrested
55 assaults against agents
Rescued 546 people
Source: Rio Grande Valley sector Border Patrol