Experts: Improved Border Drug Probes Better Than a Wall

Drug smugglers would figure out how to evade a wall such as the one proposed by President Trump, law enforcers tell the USA Today network. “If you put up one wall, they find a way to get around it,” says one official.

After the government built fences in San Diego, drug smugglers turned to the ocean, underground tunnels and, most commonly, the ports of entry. Last year more than 90 percent of the drug seizures happened in the port of entry, where millions of cars drive into San Diego from Mexico every year, reports the USA Today Network. David Shaw of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations heads a unit investigating cross-border crimes such as human trafficking, money laundering and drug smuggling. Cartels “operate like a business,” Shaw says. “If you put up one wall, they find a way to get around it.”

Current and retired law-enforcement experts who have patrolled the border on a daily basis, asked about President Trump’s proposed border wall agree that San Diego, at least, would benefit more from additional personnel, training and investment in investigative tools like wiretaps and paid informants. Drug smuggling along the border is like a balloon, experts say. If you squeeze one part, the air simply shifts to another. The San Ysidro Port of Entry, which connects Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego, is the busiest land crossing in the world. Every year, more than 14 million vehicles and 23 million passengers cross through one of 26 inspection lanes to get into the United States. During the 2016 fiscal year, Border Patrol agents in San Diego confiscated nearly 83,000 kilograms of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin from the three ports of entry in the area.