Last week, the US Border Control announced a gigantic drug bust had been made by Mexican authorities using technology and training from US government agencies. Mexican officials torched a 13 square mile marijuana growing operation six miles from the US-Mexico border in La Rumorosa, Baja California. Law enforcement officials destroyed more than 42,000 plants that weighed 70,000 pounds.
“This significant drug seizure is an excellent example of the effective collaboration among law enforcement agencies in the United States and Mexico,” said a US Customs and Border Protection communiqué about the massive destruction of cannabis, whose cannabis supposedly would have retailed at $276,900,000 USD.
The announcement comes at a politically weighted moment. President Donald Trump has made enforcing border security one of his top issues in 2019, even going so far to shut down the federal government for 35 days in the hopes of wresting an agreement from House Democrats to fund the way (the plan failed).
More recently, Trump announced that he had come to “the agreement that everybody says I don’t have” when it came to talks with Mexico over expanding its role in stopping the flow of Central American refugees, who the president blames for high crime rates and unemployment in the United States. Indeed, when Mexico released the actual text of said “agreement”, it turned out to be more of a commitment to continue talks than the confirmation of a comprehensive partnership. In it, Mexico agreed to a “binding bilateral agreement to further address burden-sharing and the assignment of responsibility for processing refugee claims of migrants.”
News of the June 11 La Rumorosa bust also served as an announcement for a US government project called the Binational Academy, which imparted training in April and May to Mexican federal police in the areas of “intelligence gathering, situational awareness, target enforcement operations, building entry, land navigation, and first aid.” The Binational Academy also provided the Policia Federal with “new equipment”.
The press release stated that a US Border Patrol specialty unit provided “training and equipment to Mexican officials which later supported their discovery and eradication of a huge illegal marijuana grow site.”
The June 11 bust was complicated by the fact that Mexican officials couldn’t get to the grow site, which was located far from serviceable roads. Luckily for them, the US government’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs was able to provide “4×4 trucks and all-terrain vehicles” to get the job done. GPS equipment already received via the Binational Academy came in handy as well in the raid.
Another point of pride for the US when it comes to border law enforcement collaboration is “Big Berta”, an aerostat balloon step up in 2014 six miles from the border that can record images up to 20 miles away on a nice day. Officials say the balloon sees 500 to 600 undocumented border crossings every week.
President Trump has long held that refugees drive up crime rates and take jobs, a view that delights his voter base, many of whom have cheered on his drive to lock down the southern border even when it has meant hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without a paycheck.
But at least now Mexico is equipped with better cars to burn more weed. Feel safer yet?