(CNSNews.com) - It's been a busy few days for U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, which covers more than 34,000 square miles of Southeast Texas.
They seized more than 36,000 rounds of ammunition on Monday alone. That's more than the total 29,796 rounds seized in all nine Southwest border sectors in Fiscal Year 2012.
(A total of 124,837 ammo rounds were seized in all nine Southwest border sectors in FY 2012).
Following an anonymous tip, agents went to the banks of the Rio Grande River, where they saw eight people swimming to Mexico, a news release said. A trail of footprints led them to an SUV, where they found "numerous boxes of 7.62x39(mm) ammunition," which is used in AK-47s and similar firearms.
“Such a large quantity of ammunition could have had a devastating impact on communities on both sides of the border and to our agents or other law enforcement officers,” said Acting Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz. He praised the agents for keeping the ammo out of the hands of violent criminals.
The ammunition smuggling is being investigated by Customs and Border Protection, along with a task force from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
“Stopping the flow of ammunition and weapons illegally exported into Mexico is an urgent priority for HSI,” said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. “While no arrests were made, our agents will continue to pursue leads and bring those responsible to justice before they fall into the hands of the drug cartels, which pose a threat both here and abroad.”
The U.S. government itself has allowed guns to flow to drug cartels in Mexico.
Fast and Furious was the Justice Department’s gun-running operation that allowed about 2,000 guns purchased in the U.S. to move into Mexico under federal supervision before authorities lost track of the guns. The operation began in the fall of 2009 and was halted in December 2010 after two of the guns from the operation were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona.
The Justice Department first told Congress that the department did not sanction “gun-walking,” but later admitted that was not accurate. After more than a year of failing to provide documents to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in June 2012. Almost two years later, the documents sought by the committee still have not been turned over, as the case winds its way through various legal appeals.
In addition to the ammunition seizure, agents in the Rio Grande Valley also made several significant marijuana seizures this past weekend.
Agents in the Rio Grande Valley also made several sizable marijuana seizures this past weekend.
The largest bust happened on Saturday, when agents said they arrested a man attempting to smuggle more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana through a checkpoint on U.S. Highway 281 North. A drug-sniffing dog alerted agents to the marijuana hidden in a trailer, mixed in with a load of charcoal. Agents at that checkpoint made a similar marijuana seizure of nearly 2,000 pounds on Sunday.
Several additional seizures brought the total amount of marijuana confiscated between Friday and Sunday to nearly 9,500 pounds.
To put that in perspective, agents seized 797,249 pounds of marijuana in the Rio Grande Valley Sector alone in Fiscal Year 2013; and 886,001 pounds in that sector in all of FY 2012.
The nine Southwest border sectors include Big Bend, Del rio, El Centro, El Paso, Laredo, Rio Grande Valley, San Diego, Tucson, and Yuma.