Difficult Terrain Proves No Match for Horse Patrol Units

The U.S. Border Patrol is a work in progress. In addition to more agents, better technology, and even larger and stronger fences, the Department of Homeland Security is looking to gain an upper hand when it comes to immigration enforcement and drug smuggling. And the proof lies in the Border Patrol’s budget, which increased from just around $260,000 in 1990 to more than $3.5 million in FY2012.

But even given the large increases in budget, Border Patrol agents have fought to curb both human and drug traffickers that find refuge throughout the mountainous areas and harsh terrain along the border. However, the Border Patrol is now increasing its horse patrol units to tackle these difficult-to-navigate areas throughout a number of sectors located in California, Arizona and Texas.

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For example, the San Diego sector has an established Horse Patrol Unit, which consists of 35 horses. In addition to using the horses to navigate the terrain, Border Patrol Agents here are tasked with caring for the horses and their stalls. Although just 18 Border Patrol Agents in the Dan Diego sector (out of more than 2,600 agents) currently ride on horse patrol, this job has become a competitive one, with many Border Patrol agents vying for this popular assignment.

Throughout the U.S. Border Patrol, the number of horses being used for patrol has increased to 334, which is a 33 percent increase since 2008.

The necessity for new and effective ways to catch both human and drug smugglers has never been greater. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, 75 percent of the people caught with drugs by the Border Patrol are actually U.S. citizens. In fact, upon the examination of more than 40,000 seizures at the border, it was discovered that 80 percent of all seizures involved U.S. citizens.

The Border Patrol, however, has yet to remark on whether horseback units have been successful for the agency and if apprehensions and seizures have increased along with horseback patrols.

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