A fifth-generation Arizona rancher fears cartels flood some areas with migrants to lure Border Patrol agents away from others, creating an opening to smuggle in terrorists and drugs.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection was forced to divert resources to address skyrocketing illegal migrant crossings, causing it to close the Lukeville, Arizona, port of entry on Dec. 4. But Fox News reporters witnessed hundreds of single male migrants camped out along the border wall and, on Dec. 5, saw many rush through gaps.
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“I think it’s a diversionary tactic that the cartels have,” said Jim Chilton, who owns Chilton Ranch along the southern border. “The cartel directs [migrants] to where they should go, and one of the reasons the cartel switches locations is to cause Border Patrol to have to go to those locations and process people.”
More than 12,000 migrants flooded the border Dec. 4, breaking the previous daily record, according to CBP. The vast majority were caught illegally crossing between ports of entry, CBP sources told Fox News.
Arizona’s Tucson Sector, which includes Lukeville, in particular has faced a massive surge, with 18,900 migrant apprehensions in the first week of December — another new record, according to Tucson’s Chief Border Patrol Agent John Modlin. By comparison, that’s about 2,000 more encounters than all of December 2021 for that sector, according to CBP data.
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“It’s a method of controlling where everybody goes. It’s a method for opening up other routes for crossing really bad guys, drug packers,” Chilton said. “The cartel is running drugs and bad people across other areas.”
“It is a very serious issue,” he continued. “How many terrorists are coming through? How many pounds of drugs are coming through in these areas while Border Patrol’s diverted?”
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In fiscal year 2023, 169 people on the FBI terror watch lists were encountered between ports of entry at the southern border, according to CBP data. That total not only exceeded the previous year’s record-setting 98 encounters, but the last six fiscal years combined.
“I am really concerned about the terrorist issue,” Chilton said. “I’ve been predicting that this is a national security issue.”
Chilton mentioned how quickly Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and slaughtered over 1,000 civilians in the Oct. 7 ambush. He also cited how it only took 19 terrorist hijackers to kill nearly 3,000 people and injure thousands more in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“What would terrorists do if we had several hundred, several thousand, in this country?” Chilton said.
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Meanwhile, drug seizures fell between 2022 and 2023, but fentanyl has continued to pour into the country, according to CBP. Nearly 27,000 pounds of fentanyl were taken along the southern border in fiscal year 2023 — an 89% increase from the previous year.
Cartels are sending “drugs to poison our people and massive numbers of people to cause the Border Patrol to dedicate their resources to processing people,” Chilton said. “The cartel is becoming filthy rich, transporting people and drugs into our country.”
Adam Shaw and Bill Melugin contributed to this report.
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