Plan Seeks 'Control' of Border; Targets Alien Smuggling, Terrorism near Tucson

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

Plan Seeks 'Control' of Border; Targets Alien Smuggling, Terrorism near Tucson


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

TUCSON, Ariz. - A $10 million initiative aimed at gaining "operational control" of the Arizona-Mexico border includes a lofty laundry list of program goals, including antiterrorism and the dismantling of a flourishing alien-smuggling network.

But the man who heads the program is confident it will succeed.

"We will take whatever appropriate enforcement action is necessary to confront, interdict, arrest and detain all those who would attempt to cross this border illegally," said David V. Aguilar, chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, the busiest in the country.

"We know what's coming before it gets to us and it is imperative we confront and interdict it. This is serious business, and by bringing together all the resources we can, we are determined to make a difference," said Chief Aguilar, named last week to head the Border Patrol out of its Washington, D.C., headquarters, effective July 1.

The Arizona Border Control Initiative, the first of its kind, seeks to confront and confound terrorists; detect, arrest and deter all cross-border illicit trafficking; significantly reduce the ability of alien smugglers to operate along the Southwest border; and put a stop to the rising rate of violent crime throughout Arizona, particularly in Phoenix.

The smuggling of aliens across the Arizona desert has spawned a lucrative and violent industry that charges between $1,500 and $2,000 a person to be guided into the United States.

Chief Aguilar said the program builds on the combined assets of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Transportation Security Administration, the Interior Department and other federal law-enforcement agencies, including the tribal police at the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation on the Arizona-Mexico border.

Dozens of state and local police and prosecutors, including the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, are involved. Another key provision is an increase in the capacity of detention and removal facilities along the Southwestern border.

"This is a very important partnership of law enforcement and government agencies, who have come together for operational planning purposes in a joint effort to make the most effective use of resources to secure our nation's border," said Chief Aguilar in an interview at his Tucson office.

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Plan Seeks 'Control' of Border; Targets Alien Smuggling, Terrorism near Tucson
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