Monday, November 21, 2016
An active smuggling route at the U.S. southern border with Mexico will be largely abandoned by the government at the end of this month, an agent with U.S. Border Patrol has informed WND.
The so-called “S2 route” runs along a two-lane county road through a remote area. More than 900 illegal immigrants have been apprehended on the route over the past year, said the agent, who works out of the USBP’s El Centro sector but asked not to be identified.
“For basically the last year we’ve been out there covering that route. Now we were told by the end of this month we’re not going to cover it anymore,” said the agent, who said he has personally patrolled the route in the past. “Nobody is going to be on this road come Oct. 1.
“Maybe there’s something being planned that I’m not aware of,” the agent told WND. “But I asked a supervisor what the plans are for this smuggling route and he said ‘I’m not hearing anything.’ They know this is a major route but so far I’m not hearing anything.”
WND contacted Jonathan Pacheco in the public affairs office of the El Centro border patrol sector to see if he could confirm the agent’s report.
“In regards to the information that you received from another agent, it could have been misinterpreted,” Pacheco said in an email. “What we are absolutely safe in saying is that we have always, and will continue to always patrol Highway S-2.”
The border agent who gave the information to WND rejected Pacheco’s statement as “blatantly false.”
“They may send someone over there intermittently but it will not be covered on a regular basis, unless they change the policy between now and Oct. 1,” he said.
Mexicans, Central Americans and Chinese
He said more than 900 “mostly Mexicans” have been arrested trying to sneak through the remote border crossing over the past year “but we have even encountered Chinese and of course there’s always some Central Americans.”
“With that checkpoint down it’s just going to become easy for them to load up and take that route,” the agent said. “They’re loading up on Interstate 8 which is the major east-west route from California to Arizona. A lot are coming across either into the eastern San Diego area or the El Centro or Calexico area.”
Two to four agents per shift have been placed on patrol in the S2 Route, he said.
“It’s a two-lane road, remote, it comes up from Interstate 8 and it winds through the desert mountains of eastern San Diego County, then drops out about 40 miles off interstate 8 into Highway 78, and from there they can take it over west to more of the main part of San Diego,” the agent said.
The U.S. southern border is divided into sections, which DHS calls “sectors,” and the S2 Route is right between the El Centro and San Diego sectors. Within these sectors are various border patrol stations. The Temecula Station is officially responsible for the S2 Route.
Temecula is the same station from which the government tried to transfer busloads of Guatemalans in the summer of 2014 only to meet citizen protesters in nearby Murietta, California. The protesters physically blocked the buses from entering their community.
As recently as July a human smuggler driving an SUV crashed along a remote area of S2 while carrying several illegal aliens into the country, the Los Angeles Times reported. One of the aliens was killed when the SUV rolled over and another seriously injured by the smuggler, who was driving, left the scene of the accident on foot, only to be later found by border agents.
‘Nothing would surprise me’
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said she had not heard about the route being abandoned but “Nothing would surprise me in this administration.”
“That is concerning. I can’t think of any reason why you would stop trying to apprehend people on a known smuggling route, in an operational plan that’s been successful like that,” Vaughan told WND. “If there is intelligence on it then what would be the alternative to cover this?”
“Oct. 1 is the beginning of the new fiscal year so that’s significant,” Vaughan said. “I wonder if they are pulling resources to handle all the Central Americans who are coming in, because that’s been ramping up again, mostly through Texas.”
She said word will spread fast if the S2 Route is being largely ignored by the Border Patrol.
“There’s no doubt that people around the world now know the best route into the U.S. is to pay a smuggler to take them through the southwest border,” she said. “We are definitely starting to see more and more people coming from countries all over the world, not just Mexico and Central America. That’s because of the catch and release policy. People know that once you’re in the U.S. you’re home free, you will be given a court date, even if you don’t show up for that court date, and if you’re not a convicted felon you’re going to be able to stay for at least an undefined period of time.”
She said the national security implications are huge.
“When we leave routes like that open it presents more of a concern for terrorists or others from a criminal organization,” Vaughan said.
“The smugglers know what the Border Patrol is doing, sometimes better than the agents themselves,” she added. “They have very sophisticated surveillance equipment and spotters to watch what is going on, they pay them to do it, so they’re going to figure this out pretty quickly.”
Unofficially, El Centro has been patrolling the route for over year, the agent said.
“It’s not going to be covered consistently, maybe some occasional agents from Temecula, but that’s a big drop-off from what we have been doing,” he said. “But it’s just foolishness, irresponsible, to let that major route go unprotected.
“I don’t know where exactly it’s coming from, this order, but D.C. has got to know about.
“It’s like the Mississippi River and you have a small leak in the dyke with people working on patching it up and all of a sudden they pull the patch and the city overflows with water.”