Tucson, Arizona - Casa Grande Border Patrol agents apprehended 17 illegal aliens and seized 10 bundles of marijuana during two incidents Tuesday with the assistance of Arizona National Guard soldiers using a UH-72 Lakota helicopter.
Chief Patrol Agent Rodolfo Karisch recently testified before Congress that the National Guard’s assistance to the Border Patrol “…increases our ability to detect, deter, and respond to threats of all kinds, including drugs, weapons, illegal aliens and possible terrorists,” he said. “Since Operation Guardian Support began in April, the National Guard has contributed to thousands of apprehensions, the seizure of thousands of pounds of dangerous drugs, and multiple rescues.”
One such example of support occurred Tuesday morning with a National Guard helicopter flight crew maintaining visual on drug smugglers near Cowlic, Arizona, and reporting the smugglers’ location to agents on the ground. Thanks to the Guard’s support, agents apprehended seven illegal aliens and seized more than 465 pounds of marijuana valued in excess of $230,000.
Hours later, Guardsmen and an agent in a helicopter spotted a group of people hiding in a wash south of Sells, Arizona, and relayed that one man was attempting to run away. With aerial support, agents on dirt bikes were guided to the location and arrested 10 illegal aliens, including the man attempting to run.
All 17 illegal aliens, from varies countries, were arrested and processed for immigration violations. The seven men smuggling narcotics will face additional criminal charges.