The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) federal law enforcement officers made 13 arrests and seized one illegal firearm in the first 48 hours of deployment at the U.S. border with Mexico between Arizona and Texas.
“First I’d like to congratulate these officers on a job well done and thank them for putting their lives on the line,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “Today’s report that more than a dozen individuals were arrested while illegally crossing the border on to Interior-managed lands and bringing illegal firearms into our communities is proof that President Trump’s push to have a greater law enforcement presence to secure the southern border is needed.”
“President Trump and I are 100-percent committed to keeping our border communities and the American people safe and secure, which is why I’m deploying additional law enforcement officers to increase security of Interior-managed lands on the southern border,” Zinke said.
On Tuesday, officers from Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) detained 11 suspected illegal aliens in Interior-managed land inside the United States. During the event, officers also found an abandoned handgun, which was turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
On the same day, DOI, FWS, and CBP officers patrolled smuggling trails and documented “layup areas” where traffickers take refuge on Interior-managed land, according to Interior.
On Wednesday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers conducted another operation that led to the detainment of two illegal aliens later identified Sri Lankan Nationals.
Zinke announced last week that Trump requested Interior’s assistance in securing the border and enforcing federal immigration law by detaining individuals who are in the United States illegally. The first deployment of 22 Interior officers arrived at the border on Monday and, in the first 48 hours of operations, found illegal aliens and a handgun.
DOI also announced last week that more DOI officers would be deployed to the border going forward.
Even before the deployment, DOI has more than 3,500 federal law enforcement officers on Interior-managed land who regularly interact with CBP, according to the agency, and 40 percent of land along the U.S. border with Mexico is managed by the agency.
Illegal immigration has prevented Americans from enjoying their national parks, according to Interior, including Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which was closed for more than a decade because of dangerous conditions.
Interior has employed surveillance platforms and installed fences and barriers, reducing the flow of illegal immigration and making the area accessible to visitors, according to the agency.
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