An Eyewitness on the Border

I’ve reported on the Arizona-Mexico border for a long time, and recently published a novel about a ranching family battling a drug cartel trying to take over their ranch.  But for on-the-ground grit and realism, it’s hard to match the account of a Border Patrol agent who works the line every day. 

Early last month, a friend began sending me emails written by an agent who risks losing his job if his identity becomes public.  But what this whistleblower sees every day is endangering the country he loves, and he has to speak out. 

Here’s part of his email for August 12:

“If a terrorist crossed the border right now there is about zero percent chance of him getting caught.   Most of the checkpoints are shut down again because there are no agents to run them, everyone is processing or ubering ‘asylum seekers’ around.  The more we turn loose, the more show up … The whole situation is mind blowing.” 

On the subject of potential terrorists arrested at the Southwest border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website tells us that agents didn’t arrest anyone on the feds’ terror watch list in 2019, and three in 2020.  Thus far in 2023, there have been 146 watchlist arrests. 

No one need wonder why this is so.  President Biden has opened the border.  On his first day in office, he ended several Trump-era restrictions that were working.  Biden stopped construction on the border wall, leaving holes the smugglers could exploit. 

The whistleblower says, “… They are also doing drive thrus from Mexico again through the gaps.  ATVs are shuttling scouts around to their lookout spots.  We had aliens driving dirt bikes in from Mexico to smuggle.” 

Cartel scouts with two-way radios sit on mountaintops to guide so-called load vehicles around obstacles.  Law enforcement in Arizona is under cartel surveillance twenty-four hours a day.  

The whistleblower: “I haven't seen this amount of load vehicles since I first got in BP.  Load drivers will not get prosecuted unless there is endangerment like people locked in the trunk or significant prior criminal history.  We have repeat drivers who straight up tell us, ‘I'm going to keep doing this because you can't do anything to me.’" 

Every day on southern Arizona highways, law enforcement stops cars stuffed with illegals.  The drivers have responded to coded solicitations on WhatsApp and other social media sites offering a big payday. 

The cartel pays $2,000 for every illegal the driver can stuff into his car and take north.  When law enforcement lights them up, these drivers sometimes take off at speeds topping one hundred miles per hour.  Dangerous chases have become common in Arizona, and there have been several fatal wrecks. 

The one no one can forget, including Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, occurred in the fall of 2021.  Wanda Sitoski was driving on State Route 90 when a smuggler vehicle driven by a 16-year-old from Mesa, Arizona, ran a light and smashed into Sitoski’s car, shearing it in half and killing her. 

She was on her way to a restaurant to celebrate her birthday with her son.  When she didn’t show, he backtracked looking for her and drove past the wreck, unaware it involved his mom.  He didn’t learn what happened until he arrived at home and was met by police officers. 

“The son’s cancer was in remission at the time,” says Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels.  “But after the wreck, it came back and he passed away a year later, I think of a broken heart.”  

Border crime hasn’t slowed down since.  From January 1 of this year to late August, Dannels’ department has booked 1008 individuals into the county jail on border-related crimes, most being U.S. citizens from outside the county. 

With evidence to the contrary abundant,  Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies under oath to Congress that the border is secure. 

On Friday, Sept. 1, the chief of Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector posted to X a rundown of the previous seven day’s activity.  Read the numbers and see what “security” looks like -- 12,000 apprehensions, 399 rescues, 24 human smuggling events, 11 pounds of fentanyl seized and nine pounds of cocaine. 

Remember, drug seizure figures don’t tell us how much gets through, and that number is believed to be far higher.  

The vast majority of crossers are coming to work or escape bad situations at home.  But the numbers include dangerous criminals, too. 

Check out this rundown for August in the Tucson Sector:

  • Aug. 8, Sasabe.  A Mexican citizen convicted in Cobb County, GA. in 2005 of a criminal attempt to commit rape. 
  • Aug. 9, Bisbee.  An illegal crosser convicted in Utah in 2010 of felony sexual abuse of a child. 
  • Aug. 12, Nogales.  A Mexican citizen with a previous conviction for illegal reentry after deportation, a felony. 
  • Aug. 13, Sasabe.  A Mexican citizen convicted in Stockton, CA. of felony lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14. 
  • Aug. 16, Douglas.  An illegal crosser convicted in Colorado of sexual assault and assault to cause injury with a deadly weapon. 
  • Aug. 23, Bisbee.  A Mexican citizen convicted in New York in 2008 of first-degree rape. 
  • Aug. 29,  Why.  A Mexican citizen convicted in California in 2018 of meeting with a minor for lewd purposes. 

Those are the ones who have been caught.  Since Biden took office, about 1.6 million individuals are known to have crossed the border illegally and not been caught.  How many dangerous criminals were among those so-called gotaways?  Nobody knows. 

Our whistleblower continues: “The flood just keeps growing. …It's mind blowing that we are even in this situation.  I don't think people have a clue the reality of the situation.  And the Mayorkas lies get worse and worse.” 

For a couple of years now, large groups of migrants, sometimes 150 or more, have been walking across the Arizona border at Sasabe, 71 miles southwest of Tucson, and surrendering to Border Patrol.  The agents have to take them elsewhere for processing – photos, fingerprints and background checks -- before they can return to the border. 

With the agents elsewhere, the cartel runs its drugs across, including fentanyl.   This synthetic opioid kills five Arizonans every day and roughly 70,000 Americans annually.  While it’s true that most hard drugs enter the U.S. at ports of entry -- an estimated eighty percent -- more and more is being trafficked through the backcountry. 

The whistleblower: “They are crossing family groups in Sasabe and loading fentanyl tires while everyone is tied up ubering the give-up group to the FOB [Forward Operating Base] and processing them.” 

Fentanyl tires are the latest in cartel ingenuity.  The bad guys stuff packages of the drug inside a truck tire and roll it through the gaps in the wall or heave it over. 

The open border is bringing chaos to other parts of the country, too. New York mayor Eric Adams has said 10,000 migrants are arriving in the city every month, and estimates that it will cost taxpayers $12 billion to handle them.

At a press conference, Adams said if the present situation continues it will “destroy the city.”  Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency. 

In February, Fox News published a story about financial trouble at the Yuma Regional Medical Center, on the border in the southwest corner of Arizona.  The headline: “Arizona Hospital on brink of collapse after spending $20 million on migrant care.”  Most of that care takes place in the ER and the maternity ward.

It’s shocking to think an American president would willfully and deliberately open the southern border to let all this happen. 

The whistleblower: “We have zero control of the border right now …Agents are discouraged and starting to lose hope. We are at wit’s end.”  

Leo W. Banks’ novel about the border, The Flying Z, was published August 1 by Brash Books and is available on Amazon.  Reach him at

Image: U.S. Custroms and Border Patrol

If you experience technical problems, please write to