24 cartel scouts arrested during anti-smuggling raids
In the last six months, Border Patrol agents launched raids against campsites of cartel scouts in the Tucson Sector, apprehending 24 men allegedly working as lookouts for smuggling operations.
In some cases, agent uses a technique called 'fast-roping' to quickly drop from a helicopter an apprehend suspects in the joint operation, which combined agents from the tactical unit known as BORSTAR and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's own Office of Air and Marine.
The effort has been focused small groups of men who camp in the high mountains along the U.S.-Mexico border and guide smugglers through the desert and away from law enforcement using radios and cellphones.
Agents have turned up campsites with radio equipment, high-powered binoculars, as well as solar panel arrays. Scout locations also had food supplies suitable for days or weeks, camping supplies and weapons, the agency said in a press release.
During the operation, agents have found 6,500 pounds of narcotics, and conducted 11 rescues.
Scouting networks have been the target of law enforcement in Arizona before.
In June, the Pinal County Sheriff announced the arrest of seven men authorities said were working as cartel scouts in a separate operation.