TUCSON – Border security is proving to be a hot topic in the New Year, all the way from the White House, to right here in our own backyard.
In the ongoing fight against illegal immigration, the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector is ground zero.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that illegal immigrants with gang-ties, continue to make their way into southern Arizona.
“We have seen several gang-related and gang-affiliated individuals here in the Tucson sector recently,” U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jacob Stukenberg told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.
For Border Patrol agents working in the Tucson Sector, the threat of coming into contact with criminals is real.
“We apprehend people with extensive criminal records sometimes. Individuals that have been involved in everything from murder, kidnapping, things like that,” Agent Stukenberg told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.
Illegal immigrants who have criminal rap-sheets continue to make their way into the United States, sometimes by way of our state’s southern border.
“Typically, we’ll see them crossing between the ports of entry. Usually, they will not try to go through the port of entry, because if they have a criminal record here, obviously we’re going to be able to spot that,” Agent Stukenberg said.
The most recent case in southern Arizona was on December 20th, when Border Patrol agents from the Nogales Station arrested a 24-year old man from El Salvador who was member of the MS-13 street gang.
With the Border Patrol now seeing large groups of illegal border-crossers in the Tucson Sector, checking the criminal backgrounds of the people coming across the line is more important than ever.
“Often times when we apprehend gang members, they’re usually with other people in a group. Not necessarily all gang members, usually it’s one gang member, or maybe two,” Agent Stukenberg told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.
In fiscal year 2018, the Border Patrol arrested 377 members of MS-13, with that gang accounting for more than half of the agency’s gang arrests.
“There are some dangerous individuals that do cross this border. That’s why we’re out there trying to identify everybody that does cross that border, so that we can help keep our community safe,” Agent Stukenberg told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.
If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa dot com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.