17 Images

Border Patrol Cadets

Students at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, N.M., get some hands-on training on a rail car. Train stops and searches for stowaways are a routine part of operations for agents along the border. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Joe Sorrento carries the class flag during a two-mile conditioning run around the perimeter of the academy. The 24-year-old former bartender from Buffalo, N.Y., will be assigned to the border south of Tucson. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Academy students get a feel for climbing on and over a railroad freight car. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
In a class on fraudulent documents, Luis Navarro, 25, of El Centro studies a work authorization card for signs that it is counterfeit. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Katy Foscue knees an “aggressive opponent” during a class on defensive tactics. At 5-foot-1 and just over 100 pounds, she is well-conditioned but realizes, “You definitely know you’re going into a man’s work.” She will be assigned to the Tucson sector after graduation. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Shannon Gorey, 26, reels as an instructor blasts her in the face with pepper spray. The controlled exercise tests a student’s ability to fend off aggressive suspects with a baton, and to call for backup while suffering the painful effects of the spray. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
One of the most dreaded classes of the five-month program is “OC,” the academy nickname for the ingredients of pepper spray: oleo resin capsicum. Here, students attempt to relieve the burning sensation with water and soap. Minutes before, each student was sprayed and tested on his or her ability to arrest a “suspect” while in pain. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
With fellow students howling in pain nearby, three academy students mentally prepare themselves for their turn at the pepper spray exercise. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Students recover from being pepper-sprayed. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Inside a barn set up as a hiding place for illegal immigrants, student Michael Saclarides, 26, of Ft. Lauderdale is temporarily overpowered by instructor Carlos Hernandez who plays the part of a migrant smuggler. A performance evaluator observes in the background. Protective headgear and a soft rubber floor allow realistic use of force in a safe environment. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Seconds after being shot with pepper spray, Shannon Gorey fights with an aggressive suspect, played by an instructor. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
After running several miles around the perimeter of the academy, sand sticks to the sweat-soaked shirts of students at the physical training course. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Realistic feeling dummies are used to teach students CPR. Lifesaving procedures are now a routine part of Border Patrol training. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Rick Tingley plays a drug suspect and acts out the commands of two Border Patrol students during a “hot stop” exercise. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Carlos Trevino (left) and his partner, John Gilcher, cautiously approach a suspect. The realistic scenario tests academy students’ ability to find, detain and question illegal immigrants. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
Gilcher handcuffs an “illegal immigrant” as Trevino stands watch. Fabian Gonzales of Arcadia, N.M., is paid $20 an hour to play an immigrant for 20 hours a week at the academy. He has perfected responses that challenge students’ ability to comprehend Spanish and follow the laws of legal detention and interrogation. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
As the sun sets at the southern New Mexico Border Patrol Academy training grounds, Trevino (left) and Gilcher radio in the details of their detention of an illegal immigrant, played by Gonzales. (Don Bartletti / LAT)