Feb 7, 2013 8:54 PM by Associated Press
TUCSON (AP) - The number of people apprehended in Arizona for illegally crossing the U.S. border dropped to the lowest level in 19 years for fiscal year 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Thursday.
The agency reported that apprehensions dropped to 124,631, a drop of more than 43 percent in the past two years and more than 82 percent since the highest mark in 2000.
Meanwhile, the number of agents stationed in Arizona rose to its highest level, with more than 5,100 in the state.
CBP officials said the agency also seized more than $500 million worth of illegal drugs in Arizona in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, with marijuana accounting for the bulk of the more than 1 million pounds of drugs seized.
Agents processed about 22 million travelers crossing through Arizona ports of entry, stopping roughly 6,000 people who were identified as national security risks or possessed insufficient documentation.
Operations aimed at cracking down on drug cartels netted more than $5 million in cash, 21 handguns, 22 rifles and more than 48,000 rounds of ammunition that people were trying to take into Mexico.
The Border Patrol said enhanced security has made the Arizona border more difficult and dangerous to cross.
CBP's aviation resources in Arizona flew more than 16,000 hours and assisted in more than 26,000 apprehensions.
The CBP said officers arrested 401 people wanted for crimes such as murder, rape, assault, robbery and other criminal activity, and seized 95,773 pounds of narcotics.