Border Patrol Agent

Border Patrol Agent


Charleston, SC

Male, 31

Spent a bit over four years (2006-2010) serving as a Border Patrol Agent in Tucson Sector, AZ: the busiest sector in the country. Worked numerous positions, and spent the last year and a half operating/instructing ground radar installations. Duties included: field patrols, transport, processing, control room duties, transportation check, checkpoint operations, static watch duties, etc.

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385 Questions


Last Answer on November 08, 2016

Best Rated

From what you've seen is the Mexican government anywhere close to regaining the upper hand in the war on the cartels? From what I see on TV it's completely out of control down there. What would need to happen in order for the tide to start turning?

Asked by baconops over 10 years ago

Nope.  Not even close.

I hate to make broad sweeping judgements about international affairs but I think it's safe to say that the situation is so wildly out of control it will never be "eliminated".  The cartels are big enough that there simply is no way to wipe them out - even with conventional military forces.

It is much more out of control than you see on TV.  The cartels are quite good about terrifying the media, reporters, news agencies etc.  They strung up the mutilated bodies of two bloggers last year - hung them from a highway overpass.  The bloggers had been saying negative things about the cartels.   The media have turned a blind eye to most of their operations, and I don't blame them.

How do you turn the tide?  I have no idea.  That's akin to asking how you make people simply stop committing crimes.  It's not an answer anyone has.  Corruption in Mexico is found at every single level of every department/agency etc.  This means that the cartel is absolutely ingrained in the Mexican government, etc.

I applaud the efforts of politicians and the good police/military folks...but I think it's a fight they're losing.  What you probably need in Mexico is a social uprising by the entire country.  There is no reason why Mexicans should have to come to the U.S. to make money.  They have a beautiful country which could be a stellar 2nd world place.  It would be bloody and incredibly violent, but I'd like to see the entire population of Mexico stand up against the cartels and kick them out.

It'd be nice to see Mexicans take back Mexico.  I don't see it in the cards in the near future though.

How often do you come across dead migrants? What would you guess is the percentage of people who die on the trip through the desert?

Asked by jIM over 10 years ago

Very often, but this depended very much on the season - needless to say, summer months were the worst.  I could not give you a percentage, but my station would find perhaps 50+ bodies a year.  Add another 100+ in serious physical distress.

Many of the causes of death could not be determined by a simple glance.  In AZ a body will be taken down to bones in less than 72 hours.  When encountering a dead body we would refer it to the local Indian Police who would call their detectives etc.  We were not trained in that stuff, so we'd simply secure the scene.

With all the crime in the desert it was anybody's guess how these people died.  Many of the ones reported to us by other illegals would be located, and had died of dehydration (or some other form of sickness).  We also did a lot of life-flights out of the desert when someone was in a bad way.

When a person gets dehydrated that badly, even if you life-flight them out and they make it to a hospital they will likely die.  We were responsible for hospital watches, where we'd be stationed in a room with a person in custody.  A dehydrated person would make a recovery within a day or two - but often their kidneys and other organs had already gone bad, and they would then pass a day or two later.

Some illegals were shot by bandits or cartel guys, or other illegals.  Again, when you come across a pile of pink bones in the desert, it's hard to judge.

For these reasons, we are all very competent at search and rescue.  We had a large number of EMT's and other first responders amongst the normal agents.  When something very serious popped up we could call on BORSTAR (Border Special Tactics and Rescue) who are a specially trained unit of paramedics and rescue specialists.

With the size of the desert, we'd do everything we could to find people who were left, or in distress - but you can only spend so many man-hours on someone.

Many more illegals died at the hands of their smugglers (commonly called "coyotes").  These were often the result of horrific vehicle accidents.  The smugglers would crash a truck carrying 30-40 people standing up in the bed.  You can do the math I'm sure.  These were the really serious incidents, where you'd have a dozen illegals killed and a dozen or more sent to hospital for serious surgeries, some paralyzed etc.

I, myself, only came across a handful of dead bodies in my time with the Patrol.  I did respond to a couple of crime scenes, a homicide etc.  I partook in search and rescue efforts a handful of times, and did find a number of stranded people.  All in all, a dangerous place.  I only ever really felt sorry for the kids.  Some groups would leave behind 8-12 year old kids who couldn't keep up with the group.  That angered me.  No one should put a kid through that, or leave them behind to die.

I'm Canadian it's aggravating that I'M ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS WHO PLAYS BY THE RULES, and yet all that ensures is that I'm the easiest guy for CBP to hassle because there's a perfect record of all my activity. Is that unfairness understood at USCIS?

Asked by Blackhead1 over 10 years ago

I have no experience on the Northern border so I can't really answer this question.  I also don't understand what you mean by "for CBP to hassle...".  If by hassle you mean they inspect you etc. when you come across - that's simply normal.  I can't speak for what your definition of hassle is.  As a LEO, I have seen plenty of people who get outrageously upset when we're simply doing our job.

Speaking from a Southern border perspective, sure everyone who enters the U.S. legally through a POE is recorded in some fashion.

For the record USCIS no longer exists.  The new layout is now DHS (Department of Homeland Security), subset CBP (Customs and Border Protection), and then USBP (United States Border Patrol).  DHS also controls I.C.E., etc.  The old USCIS under the Department of Justice is no more.

I am sorry I can't give you a better answer - I don't know what "hassles" you're going through or why.  From a general perspective 9/11 and the huge illegal immigrant problem will undoubtedly put more restrictions, hassles, and policies through which will make it much more aggravating/difficult for people who are doing it right and legally.  This is similar to many other things in law enforcement.  The bad apples (criminals) ruin it for normal people on a daily basis.

If an armmed Mexican law enforcement official crosses the border in pursuit of a suspect, what is the appropriate response from a responding agent in regards to the Mexican official?

Asked by Potential Applicant 504 over 10 years ago

While I never encountered this (personally), the response would be the same.  They would be apprehended, and a whole mess of phone calls would be made.  I imagine some other agencies may get involved, etc.

However, if it was with good intentions and by accident, I believe the Mexican official would be apprehended, and offered a very quick Voluntary Return as most illegals get.  Of course, he may get his ass chewed when he goes back South!

In some areas along the border, it's so mountainous and rugged that USBP or Mexican may have a darn hard time determining where the border actually is.  As mentioned in another answer above we have had some "issues" with Mexican law enforcement and their military.  But, again, if it was a simple mistake, it would not be a huge deal.  Now, if, during the apprehension the officer decided to put up a fight or get into a gunfight with agents - then that's his decision and appropriate actions would be taken as with any other subject.

When a minor is caught trying to cross the border illegally. What are the steps to take? Is the minor “deported” or does the minor just “voluntary return” to his homeland”

Asked by John over 10 years ago

The process is the same.  However, if the minor is unattended they are kept separated from the local population at processing centers, and the Mexican/Other consulate is notified for handling when they are returned to Mexico.  They are cared for specially, but the overall process remains the same.

What is the funniest/most unbelievable situation you have seen/dealt with so far?

Asked by Tina over 10 years ago

While it's tough to really narrow down the variety of amusing/weird stuff that was pretty commonplace to find yourself thinking "What in the world?".

We caught a 17 year old kid after a 110 mile long pursuit...only to find out he was high on meth, wearing rainbow coloured socks (the type with the individual toes) professing "I don't even love that boy!".  I've caught grown men wearing shirts in English that they don't understand (What is a girl like me doing in a place like this?) etc.

Stories with the local Indians are obnoxious and too...vile to post up here on a public website.  I've seen a grown man run full speed into a gigantic sajuaro cactus.  I've had stray dogs lead me to groups of illegals because the dogs knew they'd get food (free K-9's!).  We had a couple of white trash fellows shooting a handgun at an IED.  When detonated by the bomb squad, the IED was big enough to blow up a truck, so I feel those guys were lucky.

Every day just had really...odd things that would happen.  These become pretty normal though, so they don't seem weird until you sit back and think about them for a while.

Did you ever come across a scene like the one from No Country For Old Men where it was just total death and carnage after a drug deal gone bad?

Asked by zark over 10 years ago

I have not personally, but it was not uncommon to come across the remnants of drug violence.  The cartels did battle each other frequently North of the border.  We'd occasionally happen across a shot up vehicle, or blood trails, occasionally a dead body or two.  The really brutal stuff was mainly down South (chopped up bodies etc.)

I'd suspect Phoenix and Tucson PD had more encountered with drug deal scenes - our area was more trafficking and very little to no dealing.