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Show and Tell With the New U.S. Border Czar

NOGALES, Arizona -- The newly appointed border czar Alan Bersin landed at the Mariposa Port of Entry here in a Black Hawk helicopter owned by the Department of Homeland Security. Bersin was on a quick inspection tour, to rally the troops and show the locals that the feds were here to spend some serious cash money.

The helo was a nice touch.

Funds are pouring into border security these days through a fire hose of federal spending. Fear of drug violence, coupled with concerns over terrorism and illegal immigration, have sent budgets for the Customs and Border Protection agency into orbit.

Bersin was in Nogales to tout the soon-to-be remodeled port of entry, which is receiving an injection of $200 million from the Congressional economic stimulus package. Construction to begin almost immediately.

In a bus tour, Bersin listened to James Tong, assistant director of the Tucson field office for customs and border protection (CBP), as he reeled off some stats: Agents here have seized 1400 pounds of cocaine and 32,000 pounds of pot since October. They lead the nation in seizures of heroin -- 252 pounds last year. Nogales processes almost as many arrivals as LAX and JFK airports combined. On a busy day, 20,000 people and 1600 trucks pass through the port. During the winter months, more than 60 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States come through Nogales.

Bersin did a fast grip and grin with alert CBP agent Glady McNamara, who fortuitously had snagged two smugglers attempting a “body carry” that very morning. One was a 14-year-old girl. A new trend by smugglers is use children to mule small loads. The two were carrying a half kilo of heroin each. Both were Americans. Nice job, Bersin said, as
McNamara was given the traditional reward for a good catch -- a couple of gift certificates to Applebees.

After the tour, we got a couple of minutes to ask Bersin some questions about what we have seen so far on our journey along the border.

Check out the video to hear his thoughts.

By Travis Fox and William Booth  |  June 23, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

And the reason that the drug smugglers are using children is that virtually nothing will happen to the two mules that were caught.

The problems with Mexico are only going to worsen going forward. They are starting to deplete their largest oil reserve.

Posted by: edbyronadams | June 23, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Here in Mexico the daily "show and tell" is parading low-level cartel troops on television with their shirts off to reveal any gang tattoos, dramatically holding US made automatic rifles next to stacks of US dollars and packets of drugs.

After, in the Mexico justice system, which has not open trials or transparency, "monies are paid" and these terrorists are soon back on the streets. Money and fear rule in Mexico and even when the top leaders of a cartel are imprisoned, guards look the other way while the criminals walk out the door.

Posted by: coloradodog | June 23, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

American teen-agers carrying drugs into our country - and an article in the NYT today regarding 3 American teen-agers (now adults) serving life sentences for carrying out murders for the drug cartels. These 3 started their killings when they were 13 years old! And enjoyed it!!!!

But of course they were not given the death sentence, which I think they deserved. No - too many bleeding hearts would march and rant and rave. Instead they are service life sentences - and we all know that a life sentence does not always mean what it says.

Plus - one that is pictured in the article paid another prisoner to tattoo him - where did he get the money for that? How secure is the prison? What else is getting past the guards?

Sure - increasing security at the gates is fine, but drug smugglers are still coming across the border in other places. When will our government realize that if this is a "war" on drugs, then it needs to be fought as a war. We have been invaded - by illegal aliens as well as the drug cartels.

Posted by: Utahreb | June 23, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

One more scary thing mentioned in the article - 60% of fresh fruit and vegetables for the U.S. come from Mexico. Sure glad I check before buying fresh fruit and grow most of my fresh vegetables myself. We don't know the growing conditiions on the farms in Mexico and have had more than enough scares and deaths from food-borne illnesses.

Posted by: Utahreb | June 23, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

It's nice to know our government is hard at work keeping illegal drug prices high, and protecting the profit margins of the drug kingpins. If only they could be this successful in stimulating the LEGAL half of the economy....

Posted by: zenwick | June 23, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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