Mexican drug smugglers try to cross border fence in Jeep

Pair flee back to Mexico after attempt to cross border fence in one-tonne SUV comes unstuck

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 5:03am


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The rules of the smuggling game across the US-Mexico border have been written unofficially for years - if a bad guy moving drugs or people encounters a border fence, they tunnel under it.

But a group of enterprising - or desperate - smugglers got caught trying an alternative method. They built a flimsy, makeshift ramp and tried to drive over a 4.5 metre tall US Border Patrol fence near where Arizona, California and Mexico meet.

It didn't work out, as photographs testify.

A US Border Patrol spokeswoman in Arizona told the Los Angeles Times that a pair of suspected smugglers tried to drive over the metal fence in southwestern Arizona just after midnight on Tuesday but abandoned the vehicle and fled back into Mexico as agents approached.

"That area is just west of the Arizona-California line," spokesman Victor Brabble said. "There is a floating fence there that we move when the dunes move. I guess the only way to get past it is to scale it."

Agents from the Yuma, Arizona, border station had been patrolling the Imperial Sand Dunes area when they spotted the silver Jeep Cherokee attempting unsuccessfully to scale the fence.

The fleeing smugglers left behind their one-tonne SUV balanced precariously on the top of the fence between the axles, one half dangling over US territory and one half over Mexico.

Authorities say they seized both the vehicle and the ramp, adding that it wasn't clear if the smugglers were trying to spirit drugs, people or both into the United States.

In 2007, Border Patrol agent Luis Aguilar was killed near the same area when he was deliberately struck by a vehicle while attempting to deploy a controlled tyre-deflation device.

The region has many underground tunnels which allow drug dealers to move their illicit product.

This summer, US authorities uncovered a 220-metre-long tunnel, which had been in use near Yuma for nearly three months. Agents classified the bust as a "major" find, saying the tunnel included sophisticated work such as electricity and a ventilation system.

Authorities say that 156 tunnels have been uncovered along the US southwestern border since the early 1990s. Three out of four were discovered after 2001, the majority of which were incomplete.

Clever detective work and improved tunnel detection technology have made underground trafficking more difficult, authorities said.

But the huge drug quantities heading across the border could also be explained by a surge in marijuana production in Mexico and, in particular, Baja California, where Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel has been expanding its influence.

In eight years, the US Border Patrol's biggest find was a nearly 800-metre-long tunnel south of San Diego in 2006.