Arizona Borders See Rise in Drug and Money Seizures

Arizona’s borders have seen a large rise in drug and money seizures over the past two years, ever since the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) received increased funding from the federal government.

A comparison between 2009 and 2010 seizure statistics reveal the power of increased federal spending. In 2009, border patrol seized 105,000 pounds of marijuana, 739 pounds of methamphetamine, and 190 pounds of heroin. In 2010, border patrol seized 119,000 pounds of pot, 787 pounds of meth, and 263 pounds of heroin. Cocaine seizures stayed steady at 3,300 pounds. In total, the drugs seized in 2010 were valued at $161 million.

In 2010, border patrol also seized $7.3 million in undeclared currency, up from $1 million in 2008.

Two border stops in particular are well-patrolled by border patrol. La Paz County is miles from the California border and only 200 miles from the border between Mexico and Arizona. Officers in La Paz County often stop vehicles for traffic violations, like speeding or running a stop sign. If the officer has reason to suspect that drugs are present in the vehicle, he or she can turn the traffic stop into a drug search.

In the town of Wellton in Yuma County, less than 50 miles from Arizona’s border with Mexico and about 30 miles from the California border, motorists are often stopped for drug searches. This can be problematic for Californians with medicinal marijuana prescriptions that may be transporting their treatment into Arizona.

Although the increased funding for CBP has helped curb the smuggling of drugs and money into the United States, the aggressive behavior of patrol officers at border towns can place major inconvenience on United States law-abiding citizens.