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19 arrested, poppy field near border destroyed in joint U.S.-Mexico operation vs. drug scouts

Mexican officials destroyed a poppy field, seized more than 250 pounds of narcotics, and arrested 19 people over the weekend west of Nogales, during a joint operation aided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, authorities said. 

Over four days, CBP officials, including U.S. Border Patrol and Air and Marine Operations agents, worked with Mexico's Federal Police Force to raid mountaintop camp sites used by smugglers just south of the international border, said a spokesman with Tucson Sector Border Patrol. 

Mexican police raided the scout sites, while agents with the U.S. Border Patrol's Foreign Operations Branch and Special Operations Detachment units provided surveillance from Arizona and detained smugglers who attempted to flee into the U.S. during the raids, he said. 

Among the 19 men arrested, six were Honduran nationals "linked to criminal organizations," a Border Patrol spokesman said.  

Mexican police said that the operation began near the neighborhood of La Nariz, near Sonoyta, Sonora, about 110 miles southwest of Tucson. Backed by a helicopter crew, police raided a camp on a hill very close to the U.S. border, arresting 14 men, many of them dressed in camouflage clothing. 

Mexican police said they made the arrests without firing a shot, and seized around 243 pounds of marijuana, along with a "short firearm." 

Photos from Mexican police show the camp included a ring of stones, and a lean-to made from palo verde and mesquite branches. 

During the raids, helicopter crews flown by Mexican Federal Police, discovered and destroyed a poppy field near the border, "believed to be used for opioid production by the same illicit criminal organizations targeted during the raid," the spokesman said. 

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The chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, Roy Villareal, touted the successful effort in a statement released by the agency. 

"Binational collaboration is crucial in ensuring the safety for communities on both side of the border," said Villareal. "The disruption of endeavors by dangerous criminal organizations who profit from the misery of others will always one of the enforcement goals of Tucson Sector." 

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Mexican federal police at mountaintop camp site used by smugglers west of Nogales, Sonora

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