Border Patrol Agent

Border Patrol Agent

Oscar

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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Last Answer on November 08, 2016

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As a rule, when you went out on patrol, what did you take with you? How many BP agents would be on the ground at one time for patrol per shift, and were they paired or in larger groups?

Asked by CL Smith almost 11 years ago

All of these questions are completely dependent on the station/sector and the needs of the shift.  You could have over 100 agents per shift.  Agents operate singles or in pairs, but when a task is called out on the radio who knows how many could show up.  Bike teams and horses were often 4-8 agents depending on the shift.  It also depends on how many agents were available, how supervisors preferred to work an area, and how busy traffic was in certain areas.

 

i have to do a research paper on "why should marijuana be legalized" and i thought maybe this would be a good place to start. do you have any thoughts on why it should be legalized?

Asked by donna james about 11 years ago

Let me preface this answer by saying that I've never smoked marijuana.  I had plenty of opportunities to in college, but I don't smoke and never felt the need to try it.

I do believe that it should be legalized though.  It's a simple, non-deadly drug which is less harmful or dangerous than alcohol.  Marijuana possession has stocked our prison system with millions of people who don't need to be there (though, due to being in prison - they often become criminals in the long run).

My opinion: legalize it, regulate it's production (so that it's safer) and tax the crap out of it.

I understand this would require a lot of new laws, and procedures.  I do think you should get a DUI if you're caught out driving while high - because it does reduce your reaction time and motor skills enough to be a hazard.  This is the hardest part about legalizing it.

The reality of legalization is that it likely won't happen.  The U.S. government has invested so much time/money/effort in villainizing the drug that I doubt they could abruptly change their stance.  That would require swallowing an awful lot of pride.

In addition to this, legalization of marijuana should not be pursued as an avenue to "shut down" the cartels.  This won't happen.  The cartel organizations are far too large to be destroyed by such a simple tactic.  They would simply fight each other for the now-legal production of marijuana, and devote their manpower and expertise to other criminal enterprises or more of the serious drugs (cocaine, meth, etc.).

Also, if we legalized marijuana, and taxed it heavily - cartel provided marijuana might still be sought after because it would potentially be much cheaper.

I'm essentially all for legalizing it, but I don't imagine it will happen anytime soon on a federal level, and I do not see it as a cure-all for the cartel problems.

What's the biggest haul of cold hard cash you've found in a bust, and what happens to it after it's seized? Does your department get to keep any of it?

Asked by lqp5 about 11 years ago

Being on the border we mostly caught the material (ie. dope) coming North.  Occasionally though our units on the highway would grab a cash vehicle going back south (vehicles loaded with drug-profit cash heading back into Mexico).  The only ones I remember were pretty low-dollar amounts ($7-10K).  I'd imagine the serious cash is much better concealed/protected/transported.

I'd bet the DPS guys (Arizona's Highway Patrol) probably had more apprehensions along these lines.

Are most illegals you intercept carrying guns? Have you ever been shot at? Do you have the right to use deadly force to shoot an unarmed illegal who is running away from you?

Asked by Leesy about 11 years ago

Absolutely not.  While the Border Patrol is paramilitary in its operations and organization, we still follow normal law enforcement procedures.

Most non-cartel related illegals are not bringing firearms here, though it does happen on occasion.  They are often for self-defense from bandits etc., and not for use agains the Border Patrol.  Remember, in Mexico firearms are "illegal", meaning only the powerful, rich, and cartels (who are both powerful and rich) have weapons.

The cartels on the other hand are extremely well armed, moreso than the Border Patrol.  However, there is a small amount of common sense in the cartel members higher up.  They know if they begin a big shooting war with the Border Patrol that security will be stepped up and we'll bring the military to the border etc.  They predominantly stick to shooting at each other and the Mexican police and military (I've witnessed running gun battles on the Mexican side from a radar post).

Even once in the U.S., cartel groups are normally armed in order to fight each other.  We had numerous running gunfights up and down I-10 (main highway from Tucson to Phoenix/California), and gunfights in Tucson, Phoenix and other cities.  There are a lot of shootings in the desert between cartels, bandits, and groups of illegals.  It is normally rare for a BP Agent to be shot at.  This is often a couple of pot shots taken at us from across the border.

I've been on duty during a couple of shootings, but have not been shot at personally.  Likewise, I've drawn my gun in numerous cases and have been fortunate enough to not need to use it.  I've had a fair share of incidents where someone tried to run me over in a vehicle/run me off the road etc.

It does happen though.  Like all law enforcement, we are absolutely justified in using lethal force when threatened with extreme bodily harm/death etc.  In the weeks before I left the Patrol we had five shootings in our area: two were agent involved shootings, one was a sheriff involved shooting, and two more between illegals and bandits.  Only one of these even made the local paper.

The USBP and other government agencies do everything in their power to keep the situation on the border hush-hush.  They don't want people to realize that it's the wild west out there.  The coverage you see on television, and NATGEO is about 10% of the nonsense going on out there.

Now to address your last question - I don't believe ANY law enforcement agency in the country has a policy allowing you to shoot an unarmed person fleeing you (except perhaps in the case of a prisoner fleeing a prison?).  This is what we in the community would refer to as a "bad shoot", meaning the employment of lethal force outside of our "use of force continuum" = a detailed policy which dictates what levels of force an agent is allowed to use in certain circumstances.

These do happen in law enforcement, be it by accident or pure negligence.  That's an unfortunate reality. 

Is Bill Jordan still a respected name in the service, or has his name been lost to history?

Asked by BlueSheepdog about 11 years ago

The name doesn't ring a bell to me.  I can't say I've ever heard of him.

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 about 11 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.

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 almost 11 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.