ONLY ON: Nogales border technology helps arrest violent criminal

Updated: Apr. 4, 2019 at 10:17 PM MST
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NOGALES, AZ (KOLD News 13) - We’ve been traveling the border for months, to show you different crossings in Arizona.

We visited Yuma where more and more migrants are being released into the community awaiting immigration hearings.

We’ve visited the Ajo/Lukeville area, where large groups of central Americans are being dropped off to walk across the border where infrastructure is lacking.

But there is one spot in southern Arizona that isn’t seeing those large numbers, KOLD News 13’s Angelica Carrillo traveled to Nogales to show you.

While there, agents arrested a man convicted of attempted murder.

The takedown made possible by backup unlike any other along the U.S./Mexican border - a network of more than 50 cameras, radar and detection systems.

“This is the most sophisticated system that border patrol has,” said Tucson Sector U.S. Border Patrol Agent Daniel Hernandez.

A headquarters so extensive, our cameras were only allowed at a distance.

Technology tailor made for Nogales, where urban life meets the desert.

“On the Mexican side, it’s about 300,000 people, on the American side it’s only 20,000. There’s a lot of movement there’s a lot of things happening, there’s legitimate trade and travel and our agents have to work around that and spot the difference,” said Hernandez.

Monitors alerting agents to movement on the screen and camera operators can zoom for miles to focus on what’s happening.

Camera tower (Source: KOLD News 13)
Camera tower (Source: KOLD News 13)

The system was put to the test on Tuesday, as CBP agents arrested the 21-year-old with a violent past.

We learned the man arrested was convicted for attempted murder in New York. He climbed the highest part of the fence covered in razor wire.

Tucson Sector U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Vasabilbaso, who grew up in Nogales, credits the three-part system of infrastructure, technology and agents.

“Our cameras were able to detect when he crossed, and our agents were able to make the arrest. Without the technology, if he jumps over the fence then we won’t be able to see when he jumps over the fence unless there’s an agent standing right there,” said Vasabilbaso.

Cameras (Source: KOLD News 13)
Cameras (Source: KOLD News 13)

Thanks to the cameras, agents were already waiting.

Agents hope this technology can be used in other areas to better monitor the border.

“This is the model or flagship for what potentially we can have along the sectors, not just Tucson Sector but along the southern border. There are some limitations but we’re hoping that most areas will have a system at least comparable to this,” said Hernandez.

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