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N4T Investigators: Government looking to purchase more razor wire

In this Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 photo, a school bus rolls past the concertina wire-covered fence at East International and Nelson Streets in downtown Nogales, Ariz. The small Arizona border city is fighting back against the installation of razor fencing that now covers the entirety of a tall border fence along the city’s downtown area. The city of Nogales, which sits on the border with Nogales, Mexico, is contemplating a proclamation Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, condemning the use of concertina wire in its town. (Jonathan Clark/Nogales International via AP)

TUCSON – The federal government is looking to spend at least $26 million on new razor wire.

Soldiers started installing barbed tape concertina on the border fence in Nogales last November.

The Defense Logistics Agency, which is part of the Department of Defense, posted the notice in November. It does not indicate when, where or how the wire will be used.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada was surprised to hear how much the wire would cost. He said, considering the poverty he sees, he wishes the government would be better stewards of the money.

“What used to be a very peaceful border community with our neighbors in Mexico,” Estrada said, “now looks like a war zone.”

The Nogales City Council passed a resolution condemning the razor wire. Mayor Arturo Garino said much of it is close to neighborhoods with kids.

“It’s a danger to the citizens of Nogales, Arizona since it’s down to ground level,” Garino said. “And it also, not only that, but it’s also a detriment to our economy.”

In an email, Customs and Border Protections stated, “Public safety fencing has been established in locations where there is major public access, and the concertina wire is lower to the ground. Signage in Spanish and English has been put in place warning individuals of these dangers and prohibiting access. In locations where there is high pedestrian activity, the concertina wire is limited to only the upper portion of the wall.”

Agents also said the razor wire works.

“CBP officials have already seen the effectiveness of the additional strands of wire,” the agency stated in an email. “Previously, criminal organizations posted individuals on the Mexican side of the border to scout and cut wire installed on the top tier of the fence. Once removed in sections, human smugglers would exploit the opening and send individuals over illegally into the U.S. The new multi-layered wire prevents individuals from using this tactic.”

The initial contract is for two years, with three potential 1-year renewals. The contract could be worth a maximum of $46 million.

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel is an investigative reporter at News 4 Tucson - KVOA.
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