Skip to Content

AMO finds undocumented immigrants in the desert

13 On Your side’s Arlette Yousif has more from the skies with one of the many important elements in border security.

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a multi-faceted agency. There is more to it than what meets the eye.

Air and Marine Operations (AMO) is just one layer of security within CBP. They are the eye in the sky and can see large groups, at any given moment, trying to get into the country.

Agents in the air are frequently the first to make contact with undocumented immigrants.

"Patrols in our area of operations, which include the El Centro Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, the Yuma Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, and then we’re also responsible for patrolling in the Ajo Station of the Tucson Sector," says Yuma Branch Air and Marine Operations Director James Schuetzler.

While some undocumented immigrants try to run from agents or become combative, that's not usually the case.

"They’re very friendly, they’re very grateful to be— to help out, generally when we land, we’ll give them water, check on their, their health, make sure they're safe and overwhelmingly it hasn’t been an issue [of] them being threatening at all," explains AMO Air Interdiction Agent Ben Fischer.

Not long after take-off, we spotted four people who were trying to hide under two large trees in the Wellton area desert.

Another AMO unit showed up within 10 minutes of the call and took them into custody. ATVs were also seen in the distance making their way to assist the air agents with the capture.

"We’ve had many instances where we’ve had people located in places that we can’t land. We can locate them, but then we have to work out a way to get emergency medical help out to them or convince them to try and walk down closer to where they can be helped," says Director Schuetzler.

Around 750 people are illegally crossing through the Yuma Sector, every single day.

Each AMO helicopter is in the sky for three to five hours at a time, monitoring hundreds of miles of desert, looking for foot or vehicle traffic… as well as illegal activity.

Author Profile Photo

Arlette Yousif

Arlette Yousif joined KYMA in November 2020 as a Multi Media Journalist. She holds a BA in Journalism with a minor in Film.

You can reach out to Arlette for at


Leave a Reply

Skip to content