Saturday, April 16, 2011

Truck ramp shows ingenuity of drug smugglers: police official

Yuma Sun
April 16, 2011
by Cesar Neyoy

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Son. — The recent use of a large folding ramp to allow drug-carrying vehicles to leapfrog the border fence goes to show the ingenuity of the smugglers, says a Mexican police chief in this city.

And Federal Preventative Police Commander Gaston Loaiza says drug traffickers will only get more sophisticated and ingenious in their methods of moving their product into the United States and on to users.

His comments came days after Border Patrol agents on patrol in the Barry M. Goldwater Range east of Yuma discovered the folding ramp extending over the border fence from a large truck parked on the Mexican side. Agents found the ramp while chasing a Jeep Cherokee that apparently had just used the ramp to carry across 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

“We believe that the ramp could have been used previously,” Loiza said, “but it is a sign that there is a lot of drug smuggling activity in that area.”

The area is so heavily used by traffickers, he added, that the day after the discovery, Mexican federal police officers arrested two people as they were preparing to cross on foot in same location with a total of 20 kilos of marijuana strapped to their backs.

The fence is part of the U.S. government's efforts over the past decade to fortify the border against alien and drug smuggling through the use of added barriers and surveillance technology and more agents.

But Loaiza said the ramp is proof traffickers will not be stopped by the fence and will always seek ways to carry contraband across the border.

“We have that area heavily guarded, but now it will be more so. We have to be even more coordinated with law enforcement agencies of the United States.”

But he said San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., has managed to avoid the drug-related violence that has plagued other Mexican border cities, such as Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas.

“In other parts, they are in a real war,” he said, “but here everything is peaceful.”

Nonetheless, the Mexican army has and will continue to maintain highway checkpoints around San Luis Rio Colorado in efforts to prevent violence from spreading to the area, said Boanerges Medel, commander of the army regiment based in San Luis.

Sometimes-lengthy waits by motorists at the checkpoints recently prompted complaints by Nahun Rodriguez, a chamber of commerce official in San Luis Rio Colorado.

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