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KENAI:Refuge Law Enforcement Officers Assistalongthe Border
Alaska Region, February 10, 2009
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Overlooking border between Arizona and Mexico.  FWS photo by Chris Johnson, February, 2009.
Overlooking border between Arizona and Mexico. FWS photo by Chris Johnson, February, 2009. - Photo Credit: n/a

For a 10-day period during February, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Officers Chris Johnson and Rob Barto assisted with a multi-agency High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force on the Arizona and Mexican boarder. The operations took place on Department of the Interior lands, including Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge; and Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Ironwood Forest National Monument and Oregon Pipe National Park.  In addition to personnel from USFWS and BLM, other agencies involved included Pima County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Army National Guard.  

 

Arizona is a prime entry point for drug traffickers and human smugglers, which has led to an increase in kidnappings in the Phoenix area. The Mexican violence also has cut into tourist travel from the U.S. and there are concerns it could impact trade and commerce.

Large quantities of marijuana and cocaine had been recently seized by various agencies in the area. Narcotics and Undocumented Aliens (UDA) are being smuggled across the border in groups of five to more than eighty people.  Illegal drive-throughs by vehicles across the border occur both day and night. It is well known that counter-surveillance is being conducted by the smugglers prior to and during these criminal operations. The smugglers utilize sophisticated equipment such as night vision goggles, radios and firearms. During the recent HIDTA operation, Officer Barto administered “stop sticks” (multi-directional spikes which, when laid across the road, can deflate the tires of virtually any vehicle) and apprehended two vehicles that were operating with their lights out, smuggling UDA’s across the border.  Thirteen UDA’s were detained


Contact Info: Janet Schmidt, 907-260-2808, janet_schmidt@fws.gov



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