Nogales one of the busiest for illegal immigration, drug smuggling and border deaths

Nogales one of the busiest for illegal immigration, drug smuggling and border deaths

CREATED Feb 23, 2013

Reporter: Jennifer Waddell
Web Producer: Ina Ronquillo, Rikki Mitchell

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The Nogales Station is one of eight stations in the Tucson sector, which is the busiest on the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal immigration, drug smuggling and border deaths.

Nogales Station Patrol Agent in charge Leslie Lawson talks about one of the biggest challenges.

"They're scouting you but you're scouting them," she says. "Yes absolutely there's surveillance and counter and we're always changing our tactics."

Lawson and her agents are constantly updating their technology and making changes on the fly.

"Where the shift commanders can change resources on a moment's notice," she says. "When it's necessary. There's nothing we're fixed to.  We've given them the latitude to change tactics in mid shift. It has to be fluid. Absolutely."

And the dangers the agents face are real.

"They think that we're being threatened by pebbles," she says. "We're not talking one of these, no, no. We're talking large pieces of concrete, boulders...from a position where the person throwing the rock has the advantage, well they almost always have the advantage from the south side of the fence. They're higher up."

Despite the threat - Lawson and her teams are on the front lines and the number of weapons, drugs and people that don't get through, show they're making a difference.

Still, many lawmakers, politicians and ranchers say the border isn't secure. It begs the question, what is security?

"I've thought about that in my 20 years in service and ultimately it comes down to what the American people deem as secure and unfortunately that changes as our situation changes in the U.S.," she says.

This story is part of a KGUN9 On Your Side special called Arizona Border: On The Front Lines.