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Two Groups Of Smugglers Arrested In One Week

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

National Park News

Rangers intercepted two groups of smugglers within a week’s time this month. The successful operations confirmed the park’s joint strategy with the Border Patrol to aggressively respond to illegal activity near important park visitor use locations. As a result, they have pushed cross-border smugglers into territory away from one of the park’s most popular spots for bird-watching and viewing of spring wildflowers. As recently as six months ago, lower reaches of Alamo Canyon were being used as illegal alien and narcotics smuggling routes.  Joint efforts by NPS rangers and Border Patrol agents focused on putting remote sensors in place and stepping up responses to illegal activity there. On March 8th, rangers responded to NPS ground sensor transmissions and arrested 13 suspects and seized 529 pounds of marijuana. With help from Border Patrol agents, the rangers secured the suspects, documented evidence in the field, and walked them more than a mile out of the backcountry to Alamo Canyon Campground. They were then processed at the Border Patrol’s Ajo Station north of the park and interviewed by special agents from the NPS and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), formerly known as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Eleven of the 13 suspects were turned over for prosecution by the US Attorney’s Office. On March 15th, just a week later, four suspected smugglers were arrested in the same area, confirming the park’s assessment that smugglers are moving out of the part of Alamo Canyon used by visitors. Such targeted enforcement actions enhance visitor and employee safety in the areas of the monument open to the public.


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