Sheriff: Decrease in human, drug smuggling during COVID-19 outbreak

Pinal County Sheriff's Office
Pinal County Sheriff's Office(Source: KOLD News 13)
Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 10:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With efforts in place to slow the spread of coronavirus in Arizona, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said smuggling attempts have slowed down, also.

PCSO Sheriff Mark Lamb said his team has seen a major reduction in the amount of both human and drug smuggling attempts through the county, now “virtually down to nothing.”

“For one, they are afraid to get the coronavirus. They think if they come they’re going to get it,” Lamb said. “And two, a lot of the ability to produce the fentanyl drugs, the methamphetamine, a lot of those products come from China or overseas. They come to mexico, the cartels get it and they make their product. That has been reduced as well.”

“We never predicted it. It totally changed the history for what happens with smuggling,” said Sgt. Brian Messing with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Anti-Smuggling Unit. “This year, weeks before Easter, we had a complete shutdown of smuggling in Arizona and in Pinal County.”

Lamb said with less drivers on the interstates, it’s harder for smugglers to blend in.

“This is a business for them, so they are always trying to product their product. They want to reduce the risk of being caught and the risk of losing their product, whether it be human beings or drugs. In most cases, it’s both,” Lamb said. “When you have a reduction of vehicles, it increases the risk of losing that product.”

The sheriff said he does expect to see an increase in attempts once guidelines are lifted, but for now, he said the community is safer with what appears to be fewer drugs crossing the border.

“I think Arizonans should be happy and I think Americans should be happy," said Sheriff Lamb. "Forty to 50 percent of all illegal drugs that come to America come through the borders of Arizona. So, this doesn’t only benefit us here in Arizona. This benefits the entire country when we see a reduction.”

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