CBP: Huge decrease in illegal border crossings, drug and human smuggling in sections with new border wall

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WASHINGTON, D.C.- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan recently tweeted a series of videos highlighting new sections of border walls. Morgan also shared that with the completion of these new sections of the wall, there has been a significant decrease in drug and human smuggling.

In a tweet on December 31, 2020, Morgan wrote:

“New border wall construction in Texas improves Border Patrol’s ability to slow, stop, and/or contain attempted illegal cross border activity. In one section in RGV that had no border infrastructure, apprehensions have declined by 79%”

He aslo tweeted:

“With more than 200 miles of border wall system in Arizona, Border Patrol agents are better positioned to stop illegal activity. In Yuma Sector, illegal entries plummeted over 87% in FY20 compared to FY19.”

Morgan added that the new wall sections impede and deny illegal border crossings, disrupts drug and human smuggling, and prevents gang members and criminals from gaining a foothold in border communities. 

He said that they are closing in on their goal of 450 completed miles by the end of the year 2020. On December 30, 2020, San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke tweeted:

“In May of 2020, 14.8 miles of Border Wall project began in the east county of #SanDiego. Today the final panel was installed near #Tecate.”

Back at the end of October 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a press release on the success and significance of the Border Wall System. The statement said, in part:

“Deploying the wall system in high priority areas, particularly urban areas where illegal border crossers can quickly vanish into the surrounding community, allows the USBP to decide where border crossings take place, not smugglers, and the USBP can deploy personnel and technology in complement to the border barrier.”

The border wall system includes a combination of different types of infrastructure such as internally hardened steel-bollard barriers from 18′ to 30′ high, new and improved all-weather access roads, perimeter lighting, enforcement cameras, and other related technology.

According to the CBP:

“The border wall system deploys the right mix of personnel, technology, and infrastructure to meet the challenges of a dynamic border threat environment and ultimately achieve operational control of the border.”

The border wall system has already been effective at disrupting criminals and smugglers. Illegal drug, border crossings, and human smuggling activities have decreased in areas where the barriers have been deployed. Below are a few of those examples:

San Diego Sector- In one short 12 mile section of the San Diego Sector, the wall reduced CBP manpower requirements by 150 agents every 24 hours. This is approximately a $28 million return on investment per year in salaries and benefits. These agents were redeployed to fill resource gaps in other areas of the border, further improving security;

Yuma Sector- Illegal entries in areas with new border wall system plummeted over 87% in FY20 compared to FY19. In FY19, CBP deployed a temporary barrier, which it has replaced with a permanent system, at the Sanchez Canal, which resulted in illegal entries decreasing in that area by more than 1,000 per month;

RGV Sector- In a section of RGV (Zone 1) apprehensions have decreased since the construction of the border wall system. This is a location that has never had any border infrastructure. CBP has seen 79% decrease in apprehensions in this area since the completion of the border wall system. CBP has seen a 26% decrease in narcotics seizures since the completion of the border all system in this area and;

El Paso Sector- Has experienced a significant reduction in drug and smuggling activities in areas where the new border wall system was built. Most notably, in Zones 14 and 15 of the Santa Teresa (STN) AOR where apprehensions have decreased by 60% and 81% respectively when comparing the last half of fiscal year FY20 to the first half of FY20.

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What border crisis? More than 700 gang members in cross-border criminal organizations arrested in ‘massive bust’

November 30th, 2020

MEXICO CITY, MX – It was a great week for U.S./Central American Law Enforcement. However, the same could not be said for the members of various criminal organizations operating in and out of Central America.  

El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras brought criminal charges against more than 700 members of cross-border criminal organizations, primarily the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs, in a U.S.-assisted effort, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a statement saying:

“The U.S. Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners in Central America are committed to continued collaboration in locating and arresting gang members and associates engaged in transnational crimes.”

According to Reuters, the charges resulted from a one-week coordinated law enforcement action under Operation Regional Shield (ORS). The DOJ-led initiative to combat transnational organized crime brings together authorities from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.

Tackling transnational human smuggling networks and gangs, including MS-13, is a top priority for U.S. President Donald Trump. Many criticized the president for his outspoken contempt for Central American criminals and cited their activities as a leading factor for building a strong border wall. The arrests and charges made last week validate the need for extra safeguards.

Prosecutors in El Salvador this week filed criminal charges against 1,152 members of organized crime groups in the country, primarily MS-13 and 18th Street gangs, the statement said.

The national civil police captured 572 defendants on charges involving terrorism, murder, extortion, kidnapping, money laundering, human trafficking and human smuggling, among others.

In Guatemala, authorities executed 80 search warrants, arrested 40 individuals and served 29 arrest warrants against people already in custody, all of whom are members of the 18th Street gang and MS-13, the DOJ said.

Guatemalan authorities seized drugs and a firearm, and filed charges for extortion, illicit association, conspiracy to commit murder and extortive obstruction.

In Honduras, the one-week joint operation resulted in the arrest of over 75 MS-13 and 18th Street gang members and five police officers, along with the execution of over 10 search warrants.

President Donald Trump and the US Department of Justice’ Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force designated the violent gang MS-13 as a top priority to apprehend and prosecute.

As a result, over 600 alleged gang members have been taken into custody since the President took office. In total, over 700 alleged gang members have been arrested since 2016.

According to the FBI, Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13, is a gang of mostly Salvadoran nationals or first generation Salvadoran-Americans. The gang operates in 42 states and Washington, D.C. and has roughly 6,000 to 10,000 members throughout the country. 

The gang is notorious for drug trafficking, murder, rape, and numerous other violent crimes. 

The FBI said:

“Most of these crimes, you’ll notice, have one thing in common – they are exceedingly violent.  And while most of the violence is directed toward other MS-13 members or rival street gangs, innocent citizens often get caught in the crossfire.”

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Because of their violence, the President and the DOJ have made it a priority to identify and apprehend these gang members. Since 2016, federal prosecutors have charged a total of 749 gang members, which has led to over 500 convictions for various crimes. 

Almost 400 of those convictions occurred while President Trump has been in office. Of those convictions, 37 led to life sentences for their involvement in gang activities. 

President Trump signed an executive order in 2017 for the federal government to disrupt any transnational criminal organization, which included MS-13. Part of that executive order required the DOJ to work closely with federal law enforcement agencies to close down the criminal organizations.

In a speech on Long Island, NY, in 2017 President Trump said:

“Together we’re going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities and we’re going to destroy the vile, criminal cartel MS-13 and many other gangs.” 

Of those arrested, the DOJ is seeking the death penalty for two people allegedly involved in the MS-13 gang. In one case, Alexi Saenz is alleged to have murdered seven people from 2016 until 2017, while he was in New York. Four of his alleged victims were in high school and six of the seven were killed with a machete or baseball bat.

The other death penalty case involves gang member Elmer Zelaya Martinez, who allegedly assisted in the murders of two teenagers in Virginia in 2016. Those victims were 14 and 17 years of age.

In 2019, Attorney General William Barr went a step further and created a specialized task force, named Joint Task Force Vulcan, which was designed to eliminate MS-13 from the United States. The Task Force extended beyond US borders and included El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. 

The Task Force prioritized federal prosecutions against gang members and leaders of MS-13. As a result, numerous indictments were gained from US Attorneys’ Offices throughout the nation. 

Barr said:

“In 2017, the President directed the Department of Justice to go to war against MS-13, and we did just that.

“In coordination with our partners at the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department’s law enforcement components have successfully investigated, charged, and arrested command and control elements of MS-13 responsible for particularly heinous crimes against our communities.

“Joint Task Force Vulcan’s operations have significantly degraded MS-13 capabilities. 

“While there is still work to be done, the Department of Justice remains steadfastly committed to protecting Americans from MS-13, and we will not rest until we have successfully eradicated this violent gang.”

 

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