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Crime Trackers: PCSD Border Interdiction Unit has impressive sta - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Crime Trackers: PCSD Border Interdiction Unit has impressive stats

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TUCSON- For a new unit within the Pima County Sheriff's Department, the statistics are quite impressive.

Since July 2013 when the Border Interdiction Unit took to the streets, it's been responsible for seizing:

  • 31,800 lbs. Marijuana
  • 83 lbs. Meth
  • 13 lbs. Cocaine
  • 27 lbs. Heroin

The Unit has also seized $1.7 million in cash and taken 58 weapons off the street.

The Unit made these seizures by assisting other federal and state agencies, as well as their own investigations.  They have made more than 7,700 traffic stops during the last 21-months. 

“We're always working highways or roadways with the nexus to the border,” said Sgt. Pat Hilliker, Head of the Border Interdiction Unit.  “We gather intel, we gather statistics, and basically figure out the best places in town and times to do interdiction.”

News 4 Tucson rode along with the Unit on a day they were working Interstate 10 and Twin Peaks Rd. 

They began their shift at 5:00 a.m. 

“The goal for our unit is to identify and intercept narcotics, human smuggling, U.S. currency,” Sgt. Hilliker said.

Biko is one of two K-9's assigned to the Unit. His handler, Deputy Gerald Ahearn, stopped the driver of a vehicle and learned he was driving on a suspended license. 

“He has not fulfilled his obligations in reference to his previous DUI, which was an ignition interlock device," said Dep. Ahearn.  "He did not have that on the vehicle.”

By law, the vehicle is towed and stored for 30 days.

Another day, another area; this time near Sahuarita Road and State Route 83. Deputy Carlos Ruiz is monitoring the traffic, along with Border Patrol units assigned to the Border Interdiction Unit.

“[Border Patrol agents] are invaluable, they have a lot of knowledge,” said Dep. Ruiz.

Their expertise is especially welcomed in this area where they are looking for drug and human smugglers heading north, and cash and weapons heading south.

“The traffickers have scouts and they will position them on high ground and as soon as they see law enforcement in the area, they'll send an alert out to the drug traffickers basically telling them stay away,” added Dep. Ruiz.

The Border Interdiction Unit made a stop on Interstate near Highway 83, which is considered a major thoroughfare for smugglers, after the driver made an improper lane change.

Deputy's also noticed the tail lights appeared to have black paint sprayed over them.

The driver is asked, “How long have you had this car?” 

He responded, “since this morning about 9:00.”

The individual is from out of state and had quite a bit of cash on him. Deputies searched the vehicle because there is a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the car, but they found nothing. 

He was given a warning for the tail lights and failure to signal a lane change.

However, the information they've gathered is entered into a database as intelligence.

The Border Interdiction Unit's main concern is to keep the public safe.

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