Jonathan Athens, Yuma Sun (Az.), July 20
Federal authorities on Tuesday said the largest vehicle barrier project in the nation, concrete-reinforced steel beams stretching 123 miles along the Arizona-Mexico border, will move forward.
The purpose, they say, is to stop commercial alien smugglers, drug traffickers and illegal immigrants from driving vehicles across the Mexico border into the U.S. east of San Luis, Ariz. to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument south of Ajo.
Yuma sector U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Joe Brigman said: “Not only will it enhance our ability to gain greater control of the border, but it is a proactive effort to protect the environment, habitat and (protect) against the ravages of narcotics and alien smuggling vehicles.”
Three years ago, U.S. park ranger Kris Eggle was killed in a shootout with Mexican drug smugglers who crossed the border in a vehicle into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Eggle’s killing “vividly demonstrated” the need for such a barrier there, according to a 2003 news release from the National Park Service.
This August, construction crews are tentatively slated to begin building a 37-mile portion of the vehicle barriers from just east of San Luis, Ariz. at Avenue C to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, said Yuma Sector Facilities Manager Frank Geary.