PINAL COUNTY ARIZONA – Each day, just a few yards off of a main highway in Pinal County Arizona you can find the left-over travel belongings from drug cartels and human trafficking groups. What they leave behind includes trash, sleeping bags, carpet shoes, water jugs, homemade backpacks, and camouflage clothing.
Accuracy in Media was given an exclusive tour of the hot spot along on the I-8 corridor. The highly trafficked area is just a little more than 70 miles north of the border.
“40 percent of all illegal drugs are coming in through Arizona,” said Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb. Lamb, who was elected the 24th sheriff in 2017, oversees a staff of more than 650 employees.
The night before, in the very spot AIM and the sheriff explored – approximately 300 pounds of marijuana was apprehended. The sheriff’s office could not confirm how many of the apprehended individuals were illegal immigrants as the case is not in their jurisdiction and was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
While MS-13 worries most law enforcement, in Arizona the Sinaloa cartel is a bigger threat.
Douglas Coleman, Phoenix division drug enforcement special agent said, “We every day stare at the biggest, most violent and nastiest organization, the Sinaloa cartel.”
While on the frontline of the border security battle, sheriffs like Lamb make one thing clear: This border is a humanitarian crisis intertwined with the cartel exploiting people on a daily basis. The amount of arrests him and his team make are proof that a border crisis exists.
“These are human beings that are being trafficked. They’re being exploded by the cartel, and that’s the message we are trying to send to the American public,” said Lamb.
The sheriff and his anti-smuggling unit work with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The entire Sheriff’s Office runs on a 39-million-dollar budget, including the Detention Center. The Detention Center holds and houses approximately 600 inmates a day. To oversee the inmates there are six detention officers with 287 (g) authority. Through this program, the detention officers are already to have a 48-hour hold to allow ICE agents to get custody of illegal immigrants.