The Douglas Border Patrol Station along the border of Arizona with Sonora, Mexico is one of six such border crossing stations in Arizona. It is operated by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The inspection station at Douglas was mandated when Congress first established the U.S. Border Patrol in 1924. The station has morphed from a one story wooden structure to a $1.2 million complex that was completed in 1987. The 4500 square foot main building is next to a 1200 square foot garage. Further renovations are expected to be funded in 2013 and constructed in 2015, bringing even more customs and border patrol jobs to Douglas.
4.5 million people crossed through the Douglas Border Station in 2009 with 1.3 million of them being pedestrians. In that year, Douglas had the third greatest amount of border crossings of the six stations along the Arizona/Sonora border.
The Threat of Terrorism in Douglas
Since 9/11, the primary goal of the DHS has been to thwart potential terrorists from attacking the U.S., which has prompted the implementation of specialized border patrol training. U.S. Customs careers and Border Patrol jobs involve screening those who attempt to enter the U.S. to ensure that they have the proper documentation to enter the U.S. The entry of undocumented people across the Arizona is considered a grave concern for U.S. security. In 2011, Border Patrol agents apprehended over 327,000 individuals along the Southwestern border. Over 80% of these were Mexican Nationals.
Citizens of Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Pakistan have been caught trying to cross the border illegally into Arizona. Federal authorities are concerned that the Mexican cartels operating in the region may help terrorists to smuggle weapons into the U.S. Thus, securing the border is a prime security effort for U.S. agents working in Douglas.
Drug Smuggling Across the Sonoran Border
Customs and Border Patrol jobs in Douglas are on the front lines of the drug war along the Southwestern border. Douglas is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation for the southern part of Arizona. This is one of the primary locations for the importation of marijuana into the US across the Mexican border. A survey of respondents in this region reported that methamphetamine and marijuana were the greatest threats to this HIDTA region.
A number of organized drug traffickers operate in this area. Street gangs have been moving in from California to avoid the three strikes law in that state. Douglas has attracted members from both the South Side Harbor City and East Side Torrance gangs from LA to better facilitate their distribution of drugs. In addition, Mexican traffickers operate in the area. They are primarily members of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Tons of marijuana and multikilogram quantities of cocaine, ice methamphetamine, and heroin are smuggled from Mexico into the HIDTA region. Drugs are distributed in vehicles and on individuals in addition to more creative methods such as drug tunnels. Border Patrol agents in Douglas even identified drug smugglers in scuba gear bringing marijuana into Douglas through the sewers in 2010. They recovered 55 pounds of marijuana from this operation. These agents help to improve the security of the U.S. by preventing the importation of drugs into the country.