- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A 140-pound bale of marijuana was launched over the border wall this week and landed in Arizona with a splat — puncturing the critics who just weeks ago were mocking President Trump for warning of the dangers of massive drug loads being tossed across the U.S.-Mexico divide.

The Douglas Police Department said residents reported the drug load being flung across the border Monday and called police. Border Patrol agents, meanwhile, spotted the drugs on their cameras and also responded.

They found a 140-pound bundle in an alleyway just blocks away from the international port of entry.

Even as the number of illegal immigrants attempting to jump the border appears to be dropping, drug smuggling remains high. While much of the traffic comes through official ports of entry, cartels are turning to exceptional methods to get over or around the border wall.

Authorities have identified catapults, air mortars, ultralight aircraft, UAVs, propane-lit cannons — even T-shirt cannons — they say have been used to send bales and packages over the boundary.

“Now they’ve got these vans that drive up, this large cannon comes out, hundreds of pounds of drugs being propelled, shot into the air, somebody waiting on the other side scoops it up quickly, they’re gone,” Rep. Martha McSally, Arizona Republican, told The Washington Times earlier this year.

Mr. Trump himself noted the air assaults a few weeks ago, speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One about the design of his proposed border wall. He said drugs soaring through the air were one reason his wall needs to be partially see-through.

“As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over,” he said. “As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.”

Critics were merciless in mocking him for his remarks.

The Atlantic said he’d adopted a “Wile E. Coyote” approach to border security, while Slate questioned the president’s grasp on reality. Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and a prominent Trump critic on Capitol Hill, quipped that the real question if someone had been hit was “would it be covered by Trumpcare or would Mexico pay for it?”

The Washington Post sought out scientists to calculate whether a person could heft 60 pounds of drugs over the border wall, while late-night comic Seth Meyers said Mr. Trump had entered the realm of fantasy.

“Wait a minute. Trump thinks drug dealers are going to walk up to the border wall with a 60-pound bag of drugs and then chuck it over to another drug dealer? It’s official: Donald Trump thinks in cartoons,” Mr. Meyers said on his NBC program.

A representative for Mr. Meyers didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday, but authorities said in fact large loads tossed over the border happen regularly.

“It’s a common occurrence during these months,” said Douglas Police Department Sgt. Jose Duarte.

Usually an accomplice is waiting on the U.S. side to snatch the drugs, but officers didn’t find anyone near the load this week.

There’s a two-tier fence in Douglas, which the drugs clear, usually landing a half-block inside the U.S. This week’s package landed in an alleyway on the other side of International Ave., which runs along the U.S. side of the border.

While there are no reports of drugs hitting people on the head, Border Patrol agents regularly report instances of “rocking,” where those on the Mexican side will fire large rocks or small boulders over the fence at American law enforcement. The Border Patrol had to deploy specially designed vehicle shelters to protect agents from rock attacks while they man their posts.

As for the drugs, officials say they’re watching for the tactics smugglers are using in what’s become an endless game of cat-and-mouse.

Ronald S. Colburn, the retired deputy chief of the Border Patrol, testified to Congress earlier this year about cartels’ efforts to build bridges in the river between Mexico and Yuma, Arizona.

Using sandbags, they erected a level platform just beneath the water level so the construct couldn’t be detected even in the angled sun of the early morning. They would caravan vehicles across under cover of night.

Border Patrol agents would wade into the river each day to slash the sand bags and, finally, the rebuilding process became too costly for the cartels to continue, Mr. Colburn said.


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