Border Patrol on pace for record number of drug seizures

June 14, 2009 - 10:59 PM
Jared Taylor
The Monitor

EDINBURG — Local U.S. Border Patrol agents are on pace to smash their record for marijuana seizures across the Rio Grande Valley — a consequence of more agents on the ground and greater drug supplies pushing across the region, agents say.

Border Patrol statistics show agents have seized more than 608,000 pounds of marijuana since October 2008 in the agency's Rio Grande Valley Sector, which stretches from Roma to Corpus Christi.

That's a 140 percent increase from the same time period one year earlier.

"We have more agents in more places more of the time," said Agent Dan Doty, a local Border Patrol spokesman. "And the Mexican government has really cracked down on the south side of the border, which makes (the cartels) move their dope faster."

Since October 2008, about 400 agents joined the sector.

Mexico's President Felipe Calderón cracked down on organized crime after he took office in 2006, Doty said. Before, however, drug cartels would often store several tons of drugs together and wait for the best time to smuggle it into the United States.

Mexican military soldiers have busted at least two large marijuana stash houses in recent weeks across from Hidalgo and Starr counties.

On May 6, soldiers seized 984 packages of marijuana with a combined weight of more than 11,000 pounds in a single bust at a house in Ciudad Diaz Ordaz, across the border from Sullivan City.

And on April 29, soldiers who raided a Reynosa stash house seized 464 bundles of marijuana weighting a total of more than 9,600 pounds.

"With the crackdown on the south side of the river, their safe houses aren't safe," Doty said.

A common way for drug smugglers to push their narcotics into the United States used to be to send four people with drugs running across the border at the same time, Doty said. Border Patrol agents would be able to pick up one or two of the smugglers, but the others would avoid the authorities.

But since the Border Patrol met former President George W. Bush's orders to boost its ranks by 50 percent, to 18,000 agents nationwide, in December 2008, agents have been able to seize more marijuana every time they encounter a drug smuggler, Doty said.

"We didn't have enough agents to cover all four spots," Doty said. "But we do now."

Jared Taylor covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4439. ... 619--.html