Border crime on the rise in Pinal, down in Pima

Border crime on the rise in Pinal, down in Pima

CREATED Jun 30, 2011

Reporter: Sergio Avila
Web Producers: Laura Rios, Layla Tang

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -  Tons of marijuana seized in Pinal CountyPima County deputies hunting at night, searching for elusive smugglers.  These are daily scenes in counties fighting the battle against border-related crime.  Now Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is claiming the border isn't as secure as it's being made out to be.  Babeu has seen a huge increase in border related crime in his county.

"If you don't solve the core problem of securing the border, you and I will be having the same conversation 5 years from now. This problem will repeat itself over and over again," Babeu said.

His counterpart to the south, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, says otherwise.

"I don't think so much about what we've done but what has been going on in various parts in Mexico and the increase of people with the border patrol, things are much calmer then they were a few years ago," Dupnik said.

9 On Your Side decided to check out the numbers for drug seizures, cash seizures and illegal immigrants detained.


Marijuana Seizures 2010

Pinal County Sheriff's Office: 45,000 lbs

Cochise County Sheriff's Department: 40,000 lbs

Pima County Sheriff's Office: 2,600 lbs

The numbers for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office were unavailable.


Cash Seizures 2010

Pima County Sheriff's Office: $1.4 million

Pinal County Sheriff's Office: $91,000

Cochise County Sheriff's Office: $12,000 


Illegal Immigrants detained 2010

Cochise County Sheriff's Office: 540

Pima County Sheriff's Office: 331

Pinal County Sheriff's Office: 200


Babeu has been the most vocal sheriff on border issues in southern Arizona.  He was quick to point out that his numbers have increased dramatically.  Sheriff Dupnik said he's not surprised Pima County's numbers are going down while Babeu's are going up.

"There's a tremendous amount of activity that still goes on on the Indian reservation which we are not invited on.  So we don't go there.  The activity comes through the Tohono O'odham nation and it winds up on I-8 and it winds up dumping in Pinal County," Dupnik said.

Although Sheriffs Dupnik and Babeu disagree on whether border crime is up or down, both are adamant illegal smuggling of both drugs and people are huge problems, especially in southern Arizona.