Environmental Land Restrictions vs. Border Security

This 18 minute video of smugglers packing drugs through southern Arizona was taken by hidden trail cameras set up by SecureBorderIntel.org
Drug smugglers move through southern Arizona through large unfenced, unsecured areas. Few if any of these smugglers were apprehended. The video begins with footage from 2011 when drug smugglers moving through the Atascosa Mountains intentionally set fires to evade Border Patrol Agents who were tracking them.

The map below shows the outlines of major human-caused wildfires that burned during the summer of 2011 on the southern Arizona border. All three fires occurred along major smuggling routes. At the peak of the fires in June, a total of 150 fire engine trucks worked the Wallow, Horseshoe Two, and Monument fires.

From west to east these are:

Murphy/Pajarito Complex Fire:  Human-caused. Murphy fire started May 30, 2011 five miles east of Arivaca, Arizona. Pajarita Fire started June 5, 2011 in the Pajarita National Wilderness Area along a major smuggling route. Threatening nearby Tubac and Rio Rico, this wildfire became a merger of the two separate blazes.  Containment came on June 11 at the cost of about $5 million.

The Murphy Complex Fire started inside the smuggling corridor three miles north of where US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered by men armed with guns the federal government deliberately “walked” to the drug cartels as part of Operation Fast and Furious. After combining with the Pajarita Fire to the south, the blaze consumed 68,000 acres. The incident commander in charge of fighting the blaze said an illegal crosser, near death from dehydration, started it as a signal fire. Two people were injured as a result of the fire.

Monument Fire: Another human-caused fire, the Monument blaze forced evacuations for parts of Sierra Vista. 64 homes and businesses were destroyed. About 30,500 acres were burned. The fire started near the U.S. border in Mexico and spread northward along a smuggling route into the Coronado National Memorial. Suppression cost: $20MM.

Horseshoe II Fire: Fifth largest wildfire in Arizona history. Began by human cause on May 11, 2011 in Horseshoe Canyon, about 50 miles by foot due north of the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, along  a major drug smuggling route. 222,954 acres, 23 structures lost, $50MM suppression cost. More information


2011 fires

Critical Habitat designations on the border without regard for border security

Illegal immigration and associated interdiction activities within Sycamore Canyon and California Gulch have been ongoing since prior to the 1986 listing of the Sonora chub (USFWS 2012), a species that gets swept into the ordinarily dry washes in the United States only during summer flooding.

Jaguar critical habitat was designated in 2014 in six border units covering more than 700,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico. Border security measures including fences, roads, road construction, human activity, and lighting are named as direct threats to the survival of the species. Yet no naturally occurring female jaguar has ever been documented in New Mexico and there is no verifiable evidence that breeding jaguar populations ever occupied Arizona or New Mexico. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has officially stated that no critical jaguar habitat exists in Arizona or New Mexico “under any scientifically credible definition of the term.” The most knowledgeable jaguar expert in the world, Panthera CEO and founder Dr. Alan Rabinowitz agrees.