SIERRA VISTA, Arizona–An Arizona border sheriff has deputized federal agents as a unique way to deal with the federal government’s refusal to prosecute cartel smugglers and criminal aliens. The move allows their cases can be prosecuted in state court.
The sheriff deputized federal agents after mandates and ramifications that came down from Washington, where the government has changed the way they prosecute federal cases in border areas, said Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot.
“There’s not a sheriff in here that wants anything to do with immigration,” Wilmot said. “We are talking about the criminals.”
In previous years Yuma was one of the areas where the federal government had implemented operation Streamline, which called for a fence, cameras, additional agents, and full prosecution of criminals, the sheriff said.
The move helped curb the high amount of crime brought by cartel smugglers and criminal aliens, he said.
“Yuma, Arizona was the busiest in the whole nation for the criminal element coming across committing all their crimes, rapes, robberies, murders—all that stuff,” Wilmot said. “With that (added enforcement) we went from the worst in the nation to what they describe a success story”.
Rather than use that model to expand the enforcement and improve public safety, political mandates shifted the focus of curbing smuggling activity towards “high intel driven investigations.” in a new program called Priority Enforcement Program.
“We ended up being impacted by the U.S. Attorney not charging these illegals coming across smuggling illegals dope whatever their product is,” Wilmot said.
The lack of federal prosecution in Yuma has led to many criminals being released after capture.
“Border patrol is left sitting there saying what do we do,” Wilmot said. “In my county I cross-deputized a lot of federal agents so they could actually take their cases to the county attorney’s office, otherwise the guy that came across with 50 pounds of meth was going to walk.”