Lukeville Arizona is one of the many ports of entry along the US/Mexican border. It is located on Route 85, 50 miles south of the town of Ajo, Arizona. Lukeville isn’t much of town. More like a place to get gas and a post office or even lay up in your RV if you’re a snowbird of sorts. Maybe a hand full of other businesses, but very small. But it’s busy right now. Southwestern Construction Company apparently has the contract to build the wall that will separate Mexico and the Untied States, at least in the Lukeville area. But why do we even need a wall? Well, I spoke with several individuals including Border Patrol Agents (BPA) regarding this topic. At their request, they will remain anonymous.
Also, if you would like to see a video I made regarding this subject, click on the photo below. There is footage of the wall and the area around it. Also some extra commentary by me and a final commentary. For Video, Click HERE
Encounter: Border Patrol Agent that we met at the entrance of South Puerto Blanc Drive, one of the wall access roads.
ME: Hi, my wife and I are camping in Organ Pipe, we came down today to drive along the wall, is that okay? Can I ask you a couple of questions?
BPA: Sure, what can I help you with?
ME: So, my wife and I are from back east. We’re just not sure we’re getting an accurate picture as to what’s happening here. Is the media accurate in regards to what’s happening here?
BPA: Not entirely. In fact from our vantage point, we’re a bit confused. Primarily because they keep reporting on what’s happening here as if they are actually here, and they are not. So I don’t know where they are getting their information from, but it’s generally not accurate.
ME: One of the things I hear frequently is the family separation aspect. Children being separated from their families, is that accurate.
BPA: Yes, and no.
ME: What do you mean?
BPA: First of all, the majority of children that get separated at the border are not members of the supposed family they are with. So they are actually getting separated from their actual families even before they get to the border. Many times, these are children that are either sold (facilitated by the cartel) to strangers, or as part of an effort to get children across to be able to meet other family somewhere in the US. But the people that are bringing them across are not usually related to them. We have seen babies sold to people in hopes that it would expedite the adults posing as the parents, get across the border. And that doesn’t even include the children that are with groups not even escorted by designated adults but simply as part of a group lead by a scout (Coyote).
ME:What are the main problems that you see happening as it relates to the border at present.
BPA: Presently, human trafficking and drugs.
ME: Drugs like weed?
BPA: There is some weed, yes. But the two big drugs are Fentanyl and Meth. Fentanyl is legal in Mexico so that’s one of the biggest drugs we see.
ME: What is your feeling about the wall? Good thing, bad thing?
BPA: You know, before I was assigned here, I didn’t really have a position about it. But being here, seeing what happens here everyday, the pressure from the Mexican Cartel, even if I wasn’t with the BP agency, I would be for it. There are two problems. One, I think for this to work effectively, it has to be complete. Crossings will still occur where the wall isn’t built. As you’ll see, there are gaps even here along the his section. Those are due to some engineering issues. But the Indian reservation to the east that also borders Mexico isn’t covered. That’s where the drugs and trafficking will go if they can’t get across anywhere else, and that might create issues with the reservation.
ME: You mentioned the Cartel, can you expand on that?
BPA: The cartel run everything. The drugs, the human trafficking, everything. If you cross the border, it has to be through the cartel, especially if you’re a Mexican citizen. You can get in a lot of trouble if you try it on your own, especially if they're caught and sent back. They could put pressure on their family.
(My one regret here was not asking whether or not the cartel put this same requirement on immigrants other than Mexican citizens. My feeling is that they do, though it may be harder for the cartel to take repercussions on family members who don’t live in Mexico.)
ME: It has been reported in the news that the wall is a joke, that a good stiff wind would blow it over. Is this true, is it not robust enough?
BPA: It’s plenty strong and well placed. There are some problem areas that I’ve heard that engineers have, but it doesn’t have anything to do with wind.
(I expand on the actual construction with another individual later on in this post. What the Border Patrol Agent was alluding to was areas where the wall is constructed through a wash area. again, more on this later.)
At the end of our discussion, he told me he appreciated my interest in the matter. We said goodbye.
The next individual was a Park Service Law Enforcement Ranger. I’m not sure that title is entirely accurate, but he was a ranger with the park service and his job was two fold. Half of his job was Park Law Enforcement, and the other half of his job was to patrol, and search areas within the park where drug paraphernalia may be stashed or illegal trafficking might be occurring. He worked closely with the Border Patrol Agency. He stopped by at our campsite to check on our trailer and the Tiger.
ME: So, can I ask you couple of questions before you go.
ME: Do you think the media gives a fair portrayal as to what is going on regarding the Mexican border and the border wall?
BPA: Wow…gee..ahh probably not. (Slight laugh and shakes his head) I mean it tends to be more a political viewpoint rather that what really is happening down here.
ME: So, what do you think is the one of biggest things that the news media seems to be getting wrong.
BPA: So hard to choose. Well, for starters they don’t seem to see the drug trafficking thats happening here. Then of course there is all the human trafficking. (He is quieter now.) Yea, the human trafficking we see here is off the charts. And it’s the kids mainly. That's one thing I didn’t really expect, all the kids.
ME: What do you mean? (I could tell at this point he was upset. His demeanor changed from head to toe. )
BPA: All the kids that you see on this job. The cartel selling kids to people so that it might help them get over the border easier. The cartel sort of perpetuates the illusion that if you try and cross with kids, it's somehow easier. The young girls in their teens that are taken across... We just had a group that we arrested crossing through here, trying to make their way on foot to Ajo. A thirteen year old girl was raped continuously by several of the men in the group.
(He went on to talk more about it that incident and out of respect, I just don’t feel giving more information regarding this part of the conversation would be constructive. It was very evident that he was deeply troubled by it.)
ME: What about the wall, is it substantial enough to hold up to the winds down here. I here some of these sections are getting blown over in the wind.
BPA: No, from what I’ve heard that was a section under construction, more than likely poor installation. But there are a few problems.
BPA: Well you said you’ve been to the wall? (I nod) Well, the gaps you see in the wall right now are where there are washes. They’re not putting sections there because we don’t want to interfere with a flash flood in those areas, and there could be some undermining. So they are trying to figure out work-arounds for those areas. But, the higher ups are thinking about leaving the gaps there and putting extra men or sensors in that area.
ME: President Trump has stated that the wall in impenetrable, that it can’t be climbed. Is that true.
BPA: (Smiles) The real intent of the wall, in my opinion, is to really slow them down. when the wall is finished, and if it’s complete all along the border, we’ll be able to move personnel from the checkpoints down here on the border for better coverage.
ME: What about the Indian reservation?
BPA: Well, that’s a problem. If it’s sovereign and there has been some resistance there. If the wall can’t be built thee, then that’s where the crossings will happen. There is a lot of migrants crossing there already. It’s hard to patrol within the reservation.
ME: So, you do a lot of patrolling?
BPA: So, half my job is park ranger. I enforce the laws of the park and the laws regarding preserving the resources of the park itself. I also patrol the backcountry by whatever means to monitor the impact as a result of the illegal activity moving north toward Ajo. Drugs, damage to plant, garbage etc.
ME: Is there a lot of that? BPA: Oh yea! Bags of drugs, garbage, clothes, black jugs. You know about the black jugs right?
BPA: It’s how they transport water. They use black jugs (Re-purposed motor oil jugs) because they don’t reflect the light like clear or white jugs. When they finish one, they just drop them. They’re all over the place. The problem is in the summer, there is no way they can carry enough water. It gets to about 125 degrees here in July. You have to drink about a liter an hour just to sustain your body.
ME: How far do they tend to go once they get across?
BPA: That depends on what they pay the cartel. The cartel will do whatever you want. You can go by car, by foot. You can go in a group, or paired up only with a guide (coyote). There are several different options the cartel offers.
ME: Like a menu of services?
BPA: Exactly. And then there’s the humanitarian aspect that no one ever seems to talk about. There is a group (he named it but I will simply that it is a group of college students) that think they are helping by putting out cans of food and water at different meeting spots so that the immigrants have food and water. Usually in spots where they’re probably running low or completely out. The problem is, it’s usually near a road. A road where the immigrants might normally give up, and get arrested if they’re exhausted or out of food or water. But what ends up happening, is now they have food and water but they’re bodies might already be in jeopardy and the keep moving on and end up dying deeper in the desert. One of our jobs is retrieving bodies, even in the desert.
ME: Does that happen often?
BPA: For me, about 1-2 bodies a month. (Visibly upset)
ME: From dehydration, exhaustion?
BPA: Probably. Most of the time when we’re retrieving a body, there really isn’t that much left.
ME: What can the average person do to help, are there any programs to volunteer and help secure the border?
BPA: Not really and we really try and discourage it especially when people come down here on there own. There would be a lot of conflict. As it is we’re starting to see some cloning which is a problem.
BPA: Last week we discovered one of the yellow construction trucks you see around the construction work sites? Anyway, the cartel clones an almost perfect match of one of these trucks except it had a hidden compartment under the bed to smuggle drugs across. It looked so much like the real deal that we couldn’t tell the difference. It was one of the construction workers that just happened to be talking to one of the BP agents at the time that noticed a small detail about the truck. They pulled it over and sure enough, the truck was a fake. The driver had a fake ID that looked like the real thing too.
ME: What are some of the other challenges that you have?
BPA: Well, off the top of my head, we have usually have at least 2 scouts in the park all the time.
ME: Like guides? (I though he meant there were 2 guides going the park at any given time. I was wrong. He moved away from out vehicle and pointed to one of the taller mountains near us and pointed)
BPA: Well, they may have been guides, but these are recon scouts that work for the cartel. They live up on top of that ridgeline and watch our (BPA, Rangers) every move and radio back to the cartel. It helps them coordinate crossing etc. They are difficult to find and capture. They’re pretty well camouflaged.
ME: so you’re saying that there are cartel members on american soil doing recon on us?
We talked for about 20 minutes on other aspects of the wall and immigration that I won’t repeat here as it would be redundant from the first agent. I also won’t include the conversation from the BPA I spoke to last year that we met in Texas but suffice to say, she had a lot of the same things to say though it seems as thought he cartel is really getting creative in what they “charge” people to cross.
We left Organ pipe and headed to Tucson by way of Rt 86 which runs along the north border of the Thong O’odham indian reservation. We saw many BPA vehicles along the way. Some with lights and sirens blasting responding to something. We came across a checkpoint about 40 miles outside of Tucson. The following conversation was a brief encounter we had with the agent at the check point. The southern edge of the reservation makes up 69 miles of the Mexican/US border. Many in the reservation oppose construction of the a wall on the border there.
We stop at the checkpoint and I roll down my window.
BPA: Hi, anyone in the vehicle not a US citizen?
ME: No sir.
(He walks back to look at our trailer.)
BPA: Wow, nice setup. You guys have a sweet set up.
ME: Thanks. Hey, can I ask you a question?
(No cars behind me…yet)
ME: So, where should someone go to get the most accurate information regarding things about the wall and immigration issues relating to the US/Mexico border.
BPA: Well, if you go to our website and look under the PIO (sp.?)section, that should give you what you’re looking for.
ME: So, not the news.
BPA: Ummm…probably not.
We spoke briefly about some program where everyday citizens can participate in some sort of program. I’ll have to do more research about it to get the specifics. More cars were piling up behind me and I cut the conversation short and we moved on.
Though, it looked like he could’ve taken more. I found it interesting because I think the agents and rangers want to talk about their job more. They were all pleasant and none had a chip on their shoulder or attitude of any kind. There was a definite undertone of respect for those folks that truly wanted to come to this country for legitimate reasons. I for one and very proud of the men and women that do this job. I would like to also note, that at no time in our travels have we ever observed a politician or any of the news media at any check point or crossing.
One of the things I think we tend to forget is how this wall will effect the natural order. One major issue, at least in the Lukeville area, is how this wall will interfere with the migration of several different species. Movement across the border up to this point has been fairly free-flowing. But species such as the Mexican Pronghorn could be heavily impacted because of the limited ability for them to be more genetically viable. The good news is this may be helped if the engineers decide to leave some of the gaps of wall where flash flooding is a concern. mammals could come and go more freely while electronics and additional personal would cover the security aspect.