June 19th, 2009
01:44 PM ET
9 years ago

Border Czar tours his domain

NOGALES, Arizona (CNN) - The Blackhawk helicopter swoops across the hot, wind-blown Arizona desert and settles onto a cement pad.

The new U.S. Border Czar, Alan Bersin, has arrived to inspect operations at one of his most critical facilities, the Maricopa port of entry just outside Nogales, Arizona.

It's the largest port of entry in Arizona, handling about 1,500 commercial trucks a day, making it a major trade corridor between the United States and Mexico, Officer James Tong of U.S. Customs and Border Protection tells Bersin.

It is also a major corridor for the smuggling of cocaine, heroin and marijuana into the U.S.

Last year, 37,000 pounds of marijuana were seized along this arid stretch of border. And on the day of Bersin's visit, two teenage girls were caught trying to sneak heroin past border guards in Nogales.

"That told me that in reaction to increased enforcement ... the cartels are ... recruiting teenagers as their new couriers," said Bersin.


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