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Gov. Ducey, law enforcers tout success of Arizona Border Strike Force

(KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey joined federal and state law enforcement officials Wednesday to tout the success of the Arizona Border Strike Force, which is getting a $2.9 million increase in funding in the coming year.

“We’re taking the fight directly to the drug cartels and human smugglers, and we’re getting results,” Ducey said.

Officials from the U.S. Border Patrol and Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Cochise County and Pima County sheriffs were also at the event at the DPS hangar at Sky Harbor Airport.

“The scope and complexity of these criminal organizations operating along the Arizona-Mexico border requires a united front at the federal, state, local and tribal level,” Border Patrol Chief Agent Rodolfo Karisch said.

He added, “This team effort of us coming together shows that we are equally committed as to securing our borders and making sure that the citizens of Arizona and this country are safe.

Ducey said 12 troopers will be added to the force with the budgeted funding increase for fiscal year 2019.

“I’m proud to announce that these new dollars will start arriving this month, bringing us that much closer to achieving our ultimate goal of having 24-hours-a-day, seven-day-a-week coverage,” Ducey said.

According to the governor’s office, the force made 3,199 arrests and the following seizures since it was created in 2015 as part of the Department of Public Safety (through May 2018):

• 60,641 pounds of marijuana.

• 14,249 prescription drug pills/capsules.

• 17.2 million hits of heroin.

• 173,885 rounds of ammunition.

• 300 firearms.

The force also has been involved in arresting suspects in sex trafficking cases.

“These are exceptional results, and we want to see more of them,” Ducey said.

DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead said law enforcement needs to keep up with smugglers, who have complex operations and are constantly changing their methods.

“The business acumen of the drug cartels is incredible,” Milstead said. “They’ve been smuggling drugs into this state for 100 years, and they’re very good at it.

“And as we adapt, they adapt.

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