The police chief of Las Cruces, New Mexico, blames the closure of inland border security checkpoints for an increase in homicides and other crimes in his community.
Border Patrol officials in the El Paso Sector closed inland border security checkpoints earlier this year in order to move more agents to the front line to help apprehend and process the massive numbers of migrants crossing into New Mexico and West Texas. Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher told local news outlets this is partially to blame for a recent increase in homicides and shootings, KVIA ABC7 reported.
The local ABC affiliate reports that Doña Ana County experienced seven fatal shootings in the past six weeks. Five of those occurred within the city limits and two others in the county’s jurisdiction. Law enforcement officials told the reporter that most of these are drug-related offenses.
“The increase in violence in Las Cruces and the increase in shooting incidents, we are concerned by it,” Chief Gallagher explained. “There were five homicides in June alone. Four of the five of them were narcotics related.”
Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart said he believes the closed checkpoints are “sending out the message that there’s a little bit more freedom to move about … to be emboldened.”
“With asylum seekers coming to the border and throwing up their hands to every Border Patrol agent they can see, the cartel is a very active observer,” the sheriff continued. “They’re opportunists.”
In May, the Otero County Sheriff David Black told reporters that the closed checkpoints are a “green light” for the cartels.
“It’s a green light for the cartels when border checkpoints are down,” Otero County Sheriff David Black, 56, told the New York Post in an interview earlier this month. The sheriff said the closure of the checkpoints has forced him to reallocate his own department’s resources to fill in the gap.
In April, Breitbart News reported that Border Patrol officials released nearly 1,600 migrants in Las Cruces during a 10-day period. Border Patrol officials began releasing migrants apprehended in the El Paso Sector on April 12. The releases come as the sector reached the breaking point with thousands of Central American migrant families crossing the border illegally in West Texas and the New Mexico boot heel.
County officials in neighboring Otero County declared a state of emergency and called on the New Mexico governor to re-deploy the National Guard to so that Border Patrol agents can re-open interior checkpoints, the El Paso Times reported. In March, Border Patrol officials temporarily shut down the interior checkpoints where agents routinely find drugs and “human cargo” being smuggled to the nation’s interior cities from the border region.
In May alone, El Paso Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly 39,000 migrants — many of those from the New Mexico portions of the sector. During the first eight months of this fiscal year, the total for the El Paso Sector rose to 136,922 migrants apprehended including 104,131 family units, 13,284 unaccompanied minors, and 19,507 single adults.