Babeu: Pinal County is #1 pass through for drugs, human smuggling

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In a testimony before the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC last week, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu claimed Pinal County was the number one pass through county in the nation for drug and human smuggling.

To back his claims Babeu stated that the amount of marijuana seized in Pinal County has increased from 19,619 pounds in 2008 to more than 45,000 pounds seized last year. Other increases he noted  included vehicle pursuits increasing from 142 in 2007 to 340 in 2010 and illegal aliens seized increasing from 188 in 2007 to 370 in 2010.

“This violence is not just coming here. It is here,” he said. “People in my county do not feel the border is more secure than ever, and we are 70 miles north.”

Babeu added that in the Tucson sector last year alone the Border Patrol captured 219,300 people trying to cross the border and estimated that for every one captured another 2.7 made it across without capture.

“One out of six people crossing the Tucson sector are doing so illegally,” Babeu said.”While many of these people are searching for a better life, 17 percent already have a criminal record in the U.S.”

“We need help out in Arizona. On anybody’s scorecard, if the majority of people [illegal immigrants] are getting through, that is a failing grade. Period.” Babeu added.

To address the issue Babeu said that it was imperative the U.S. government implement the Senator McCain/Kyl 10-Point Border Security Plan.

The plan is based on the success of border enforcement in the Yuma sector, where 96 percent of those attempting to cross illegally are captured.

Three key elements of this plan, laid out by Babeu, include deploying 6,000 armed soldiers for a period of two years to immediately secure the border. It calls for completing construction of a double barrier fence with supportive surveillance platforms, lighting, sensors and supportive roads to support rapid deployment of the US Border Patrol.  Third, the plan seeks to fully enforce the law without any diversion option for illegals.

“Current catch and release tactics are undermining the law,” the sheriff added.
Babeu’s testimony came as part of a  panel assembled in Washington to discuss the issues plaguing the Mexico/U.S border.

The panel was headed by U.S. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman. In addition to questioning Babeu, the group talked with  justice officials from Texas, California and New Mexico.

Babeu was asked to testify in place of Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever who unexpectedly backed out.

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