New game camera footage obtained by SecureBorderIntel.org time-stamped March 2, 2011, shows seven drug mules likely carrying about $50,000 worth of marijuana each, for a total of about $350,000 in street value.
The trail where the motion-sensor hidden cameras were placed is 80 miles north of the border, due north of the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. Tohono, about the size of Connecticut, has seen a marked increase in drug mule traffic since the creation of two “apprehension” zones on either side of the reservation’s boundaries. These “apprehension zones” were created by the now-canceled Secure Border Initiative (SBInet) “virtual fence”. SBInet created, for the first time on the border, a regional “Common Operating Picture” that allows the Border Patrol to detect, locate and apprehend alien and drug smugglers as they come across the border. For more information on SBInet, please see my earlier blog, “In Two Weeks, 295 Apprehensions in the Ajo SBInet Sector“.
Since its full deployment in 2010, SBInet caused such a sharp increase in apprehensions in the areas it covers that Tohono became a funnel for illegal activity, causing both the cartels and alien smugglers to change their travel methods to avoid SBInet. Instead, illegals are breaching the border increasingly at Tohono’s border since the reservation has no fencing and no SBInet. Walking or driving across the border at Tohono takes smugglers due north into the military’s Barry Goldwater Range, to locations where these hidden cameras pick them up very close to their load areas on the major I-8 east-west highway in Arizona, just south of Phoenix. This area is part of Pinal County, where Sheriff Babeu has requested state funding for an emergency task force to deal with illegal activity like these loads seen on this hidden camera, recently outlined in my blog “Ariz. Sheriff Babeu and His (Not Federal) Immigration Task Force“.
I highlight and show in depth how the cartels travel to these points 80 miles north of the border in my mini-documentary, “Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 3: A Day in the Life of a Drug Smuggler“. Tohono O’odham was to receive the next deployments of SBInet, but last year Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano froze the project, and in January 2011, canceled it.