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Mexican Border Patrol Arrests: Mostly Americans, Amigo!

People hold incorrect ideas that the nefarious criminals who bring illegal drugs in from south of our border are stereotypical despicable Mexican drug runners. The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) cites statistics demonstrating that 75 percent of those busted for transporting illegal drugs into the country are actually Americans. Of all border drug arrests, approximately 80 percent of them involve at least one American.

Consider these solid citizens, who are responsible for keeping rehab treatment centers busy with their dastardly deeds:

  • Todd Britton-Harr, a 36-year-old graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, arrested in 2010 complete with trailer full of 1,100 pounds of marijuana.
  • Laura Lynn Farris, an innocuous 52-year-old female transporting her dogs to be washed at the vet’s office, along with a laundry basket—and 162 pounds of marijuana beneath the laundry.
  • A 54-year-old unemployed mechanical engineer from Texas, who admitted to law enforcement officials, under guarantee of anonymity, that he had completed 17 successful transfers of marijuana from Mexico into Texas.

Police with the Border Patrol will be redeploying their suspicions toward Americans, especially if they have the look of a young and wholesome college student or a middle-aged career professional.  

Why are so many more Americans being caught these days? For starters, the Obama administration has doubled the size of the Border Patrol in the last two or three years. There are now approximately 21,000 agents hard at work these days to stop drug trafficking. Another reason is the difficult economy. With high unemployment numbers troubling the nation for the past five years, people who can’t find work say yes to drug-running—it seems like a fast and easy way to make a buck. Some people agree to run drugs because they are, themselves, users, and instead of seeking help in drug rehab treatment centers they get a cut of the drugs they smuggle into the country.

It seems like an easy job: Pick up a car in Mexico, drive it through the checkpoint, and deliver the car to someone on the American side of the border who will take over the drug distribution process.  One Arizona attorney who has defended many of these so-called mules states that often they agree to drive the car with very little information about the operation. Recruitment takes place at casinos where it seems like a simple way to recover gambling losses.

Some of the Americans bringing drugs into the country have permission to use medicinal marijuana. Ronald Colman, who retired from the Border Patrol in 2009, says it’s not uncommon to see someone “rolling up, smoke puffing out the window” and claiming “Dude, this is for medicinal use.” That doesn’t mean, police have discovered, that they aren’t carrying in a little something extra.

How will law enforcement officials put a stop to this? Increased vigilance and targeting even those who don’t look like they would be carrying will put a dent in these figures. About half of all arrests come from routine traffic checks.

Dogs are also effective in sniffing out drugs—the lady with the laundry and the guy with the trailer both were caught by dogs. Numbers of both canine and human agents will continue to be increased.

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