Border Patrol Sweep Nets 2,345 Aliens in Single Day

Times Staff Writer

The Border Patrol continued putting pressure on alien smuggling Monday as the second border sweep in as many nights resulted in massive arrests in the canyons east of the San Ysidro port of entry.

Border Patrol officials said 2,345 people were arrested in the San Diego sector Sunday. More than half of Sunday’s arrests, 1,258, were logged at the Brown Field station, which is the busiest immigration station in the United States.

The Border Patrol said late Monday that the count of those arrested Monday night had not been completed.

Border Patrol spokesman Gene Smithburg said that no incidents or violence were reported Sunday night.


Smithburg said that 919 aliens, including women and children, were arrested Sunday and early Monday morning by agents working the eight-hour shift out of Brown Field between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. One group of 100 aliens was arrested while hiding in Moody Canyon, south of Otay Mesa Road, said Smithburg.

Immigration and Naturalization Service officials said the crackdowns are not related to the April 18 shooting in which Border Patrol agent Edward (Ned) Cole fired one shot from his .357 magnum pistol into Mexico, wounding a 12-year-old boy who was standing by the border fence. The incident occurred when Cole and another agent were attempting to arrest the youth’s older brother, who had briefly entered the United States illegally, and the agents were allegedly pelted with rocks and bottles.

“We have these crackdowns . . . sporadically, as the budget allows, to keep the smugglers and aliens off balance,” Smithburg said.

On April 14, INS officials announced that a 30-day crackdown called “Operation Disruption” had resulted in the arrests of 7,200 illegal aliens and 232 smugglers in raids on “staging areas and drop houses” where aliens are held before being transported farther north by smugglers. That special task force, working along the California and Arizona border with Mexico, also seized 215 vehicles used to smuggle aliens, three firearms, and four stolen vehicles, the INS said.

Border Patrol officials said that 60 agents were used Sunday and Monday nights, most of them working overtime. Normally, only 25 agents are used to patrol the same area at night. Four infrared detection scopes and one helicopter were used in the operation. Usually only two scopes are used to help agents detect aliens who attempt to enter the United States illegally under cover of darkness.

INS officials said that March and April are unusually busy months because Mexicans are lured to agricultural jobs throughout Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

But unlike past years, when few women and children were apprehended, the Border Patrol has seized an increasing number of women and children, Smithburg said. He attributed this in part to economic problems in Mexico that have prompted more families to attempt the illegal crossing into the United States.

“We’ve noticed that since the devaluation of the peso in August, 1983, we’ve started to get more family groups and women and children,” Smithburg said. “Years ago we would only get working males who would send their money home to their families.”


Mike Williams, another Border Patrol spokesman, said that 39,493 aliens have been arrested during April in the San Diego sector’s eight stations: Brown Field, Otay Mesa, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Temecula, Campo and San Clemente. This is a slight increase in the number of aliens arrested in April, 1984, when 38,857 arrests were made in the same sector, said Williams. In all of 1984, more than 403,600 arrests of illegal aliens were logged in the San Diego sector.