‘Borderline heroes’ work both sides of southern wall to stop crime

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'Borderline heroes' work both sides of southern wall to stop crime

EL PASO, TEXAS — “Borderline Hero” was a 1950s-era comic book featuring Donald Duck dressed in Border Patrol fatigues, clutching a rifle and scanning the horizon. Today, real-life law enforcers can be found on both sides of the southern border, as Mexican authorities play a greater role in helping the US crack down on human smuggling and drug trafficking.

In the last year, Mexican police and National Guard have been increasing their work in conjunction with US Border Patrol agents, with both countries performing “mirrored patrols” on either side of the border fence.

The special patrols have resulted in 2,109 apprehensions in fiscal year 2021, with Mexican authorities responsible for 1,965 and Border Patrol agents 144. In addition, 1,775 people were deterred from entering the US, according to Border Patrol statistics.

“When the rubber meets the road, it’s the agents out here patrolling who are making a big difference,” said Richard Barragan, a Border Patrol agent connected to the El Paso Sector, where 155,892 migrants were detained in FY 2021, almost triple the 54,396 the previous year.

Overall, nearly 209,000 migrants were encountered crossing the border last month, slightly down from July but a 317 percent increase over August 2020, according to a report. Meanwhile, a mushrooming number of migrants — more than 10,000 and counting — have gathered this week under the Del Rio International Bridge awaiting asylum.

Mexican authorities play a role in helping the US crack down on human and drug trafficking/
Mexican authorities play a role in helping the US crack down on human and drug trafficking/
Joel Angel Juarez for NY Post

Last month, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador traveled to Ciudad Juarez on the border with El Paso to inaugurate a new barracks for the Mexican National Guard, pledging more aid to “secure” the border. Cartels that smuggle drugs into the US bring back weapons and cash to Mexico, Border Patrol agents told The Post.

In July, the US and Mexico announced 10 new criminal targets for their “Se Busca Informacion” program (Looking for Information), which began in 2019. The initiative puts photos of the faces of the most wanted suspects in both the US and Mexico on a poster, with wide distribution in both countries. Although there are no names attached to the photos as per the Mexican government’s request, the men on the most-wanted poster are being sought for everything from human smuggling to drug dealing and murder, according to the Border Patrol. The poster includes 24-hour tip lines in both Mexico and the US, allowing callers to provide anonymous information. The initiative has resulted in three arrests so far.

The posters are displayed at border crossings and at convenience stores in Mexico.

In another recent initiative, Mexican police are working with Border Patrol to stop people from cutting into the barrier border fence from the Mexican side. Criminal organizations in Mexico use cutting tools, grinders and torches to breach the border barrier in remote locations on a daily basis, according to the Border Patrol in the El Paso Sector, which recorded 714 fence breaches in FY 2021.

Once a suspect is arrested in Mexico, Border Patrol agents have 12 hours to issue a complaint to Mexican authorities, demanding payment for the damaged fence. The average cost to repair a breach ranges from $300 to $400, Border Patrol agents said.

“We are constantly repairing the border fence,” said Gloria Chavez, Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector Chief, in an interview with The Post. “Now we’re trying to prosecute people and hold them accountable.”

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