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Drug seizures increase as immigrant arrests fall

Az apprehensions hit 17-year low

Narcotics seizures on the country’s borders increased by 20 percent during the 2011 fiscal year, with Arizona and Texas ports seeing the most contraband among border states.

In all, about 1.5 million pounds of narcotics were seized in Texas, 1.2 million pounds in Arizona, about 332,130 pounds in California, and 55,260 pounds in New Mexico, according to year-end statistics released Monday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Meanwhile, apprehensions of illegal immigrants fell to their lowest levels in decades, the data shows. About 340,250 illegal immigrants were apprehended nationwide last fiscal year, compared to 463,380 in 2010, about a 26 percent drop.

There were about 327,580 apprehensions on the southwest border, including about 129,000 in Arizona and 119,000 in Texas. California and New Mexico saw 72,600 and 6,900 apprehensions, respectively.

The 129,118 apprehensions in Arizona marked a 41-percent decrease from the previous year. The number of illegal crossers caught in the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, was down 63 percent over the last seven years, CBP data show.

The total arrested in Arizona, including apprehensions in the Tucson and Yuma sectors, is the lowest in 17 years, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said in a statement.

The agency says that of those apprehended, about 87,300 had criminal records and convictions. The dip in apprehensions, the agency has said, reflects that illegal immigration has dropped overall.

"These numbers illustrate the investments made by CBP to improve border security, increase efficiencies and facilitate the flow of legal travel and trade through our nation’s borders and land ports of entry,” Bersin said.

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Trade at all ports increased by 14 percent compared to 2010, to about $2.3 trillion, though it is unclear how much trade came through the southwest border. WorldCity, a Florida-based  media company that tracks trade through more than 240 countries, estimates the value of trade that moved through the Laredo customs district from  January through September exceeded $153.7 billion.

The El Paso customs district was the second-busiest trade partner with Mexico, with $57.8 billion passing through that port during the same time period, according to WorldCity. And, overall, the U.S. traded about $341.7 billion with Mexico from January to September 2011.

TucsonSentinel.com’s Janet Rose Jackman contributed to this story.

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2 comments on this story

Dec 14, 2011, 10:39 am
-1 +0

No jobs in U.S.= less illegal crossers. So… I would assume more poor starving illegal job seekers are joining the drug trade as there are no more jobs in our country for them. Or forced to join the drug trade by the most violent criminals on the planet.  Either way the U.S. is the big loser and our leaders do nothing to stop the illegal activity on the border.  we have become so desensitized to this problem, that people are proud of only half a mil have crossed our border into arizona ( yes you have to estimate the border jumpers that dont get caught). Secure the border now. Stop these criminals. Put pressure any way you can for our leaders to do the job they were elected to perform. Enforce the laws and protect the people.

Dec 14, 2011, 9:47 am
-0 +0

All this spin about dropping numbers of border jumpers being apprehended is smoke-and-mirrors. Of course, when you direct an agency to put their priorities in enforcing one area and “overlooking” the other…what do you think is going to happen?

These statistics do nothing more than show what the current priorities are of those responsible for protecting our borders.

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Click image to enlarge

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent with seized bundles of marijuana.