Border Patrol chief calls Tucson Sector 'last stand' for smugglers
The Border Patrol's Tucson Sector is the "last stand" for groups smuggling drugs and people into the U.S., but law enforcement agencies are finding ways to work more effectively and strategically to gain control of the area, the agency's chief said Wednesday.
"We're doing everything we can to make sure those criminal organizations no longer operate with the degree of impunity as they have in the state of Arizona," Mike Fisher told reporters during the Border Security Expo 2011 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
In a keynote address to government officials, enforcement agents and border security experts, Fisher said that in order to dismantle the smuggling enterprises the Border Patrol needs to be more mobile and flexible than its adversaries.
"We have to be less response- and more intelligence-driven," he said.
The Tucson Sector, which includes 262 miles of Arizona's border east of the Yuma County line, is the only sector in which the Border Patrol hasn't achieved operational control, which relates to the ability of agents to detect, classify and resolve security threats.
Fisher said law enforcement would bring the Tucson Sector under operational control.
"Operational control does not mean sealing the border 100 percent," he added.
In another keynote address, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said that partnerships among federal, state and local agencies, as well as agencies on the other side of the border, are the best way to defuse security threats at the border.
"We have to do everything we can to help the Mexican government put a stop to this invasion at the border," Horne said.
Horne said this week's shooting death of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent working in Mexico is an example of why partnerships are necessary.
"It illustrates the fact that the problem needs to be solved not only at the border, as important as that is, but it has to be solved within the country of Mexico," Horne said.
He told reporters that he thinks border security is the most pressing issue in America right now and that he would like to see more federal help in addressing this issue.
The event also included an exhibition showcasing cutting-edge security technologies for protecting and securing the U.S.-Mexico border. Some of the innovations included sensors, armored vehicles, intelligence-sharing devices and surveillance cameras.
One of the innovations on display was an Advanced Radar Surveillance System manufactured by Telephonics Corporation Electronic Systems Division that features new command and control technology to improve data analysis.
Ron Sinek, an exhibitor and consultant for this innovation, said the technologies on display would protect agents and help them perform their jobs better.
"The technology is here, so whenever they are ready for it, we have it for them to use," Sinek said.