Whether it be Yuma or El Centro, USBP is committed to safeguarding our communities
IMPERIAL, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Apprehensions are becoming more frequent on a daily basis, and at the forefront of it all, are Border Patrol agents. They say that they're doing what they can to protect our nation's borders.
The pandemic along with the influx of migrants crossing into our country have only made things more difficult on agents. They are also subject to attacks from the other side of the border.
Agents Carlos Pitones and John Mendoza are both military veterans. Pitones served in the U.S. Marine Corps back in 1996.
"I’m from this area here, so it means even more to be able to give back to our community, to protect those in our community; and that’s why I am passionate about being a border patrol agent," Agent Pitones says.
"Having an overall sense of accomplishment and just having a mission, and that’s what led me to joining the border patrol," Agent Mendoza shares.
Agent Pitones says that he takes pride in knowing he’s still protecting his country, but whether in the military or along the border, sometimes serving comes with a price.
Rock throwing is just one of the many that agents see frequently. Individuals from the other side of the wall often throw rocks at agents to distract them.
"Individuals throwing rocks at our agents; as early as this morning, we had an incident here in downtown Calexico, as well as a couple miles west in Calexico, where individuals attempted to throw rocks at our border patrol agents," Pitones comments.
Rock throwing is not the only form of assault agents see while on duty, agents are also splashed with contaminated water from the New River.
Mendoza tells us those whom cross illegally find it strategic to go through back doors that lead into the Gran Plaza Outlets, where they quickly change clothes to confuse agents.
"We use technology such as cameras and sensors; we put all those together and we do our best with the technology we have," he highlights.
This technology combined with intel ultimately leads to seizures, including weapons and drugs. Alongside advanced technology, Border Patrol also relies heavily on specialty forces, like the K-9 unit. They're primarily responsible for sniffing out narcotics and explosives, all the while assisting Border Patrol with apprehensions. In light of the recent border crisis, those numbers continue to climb.
"Fiscal year to date, we have nearly 35,000 apprehensions here along our border," explains Agent Pitones.
Furthermore, crime is going up in surrounding areas, something Border Patrol and local law enforcement are working to minimize. Earlier this month, agents arrested a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant accused of human smuggling, he also had an active warrant for homicide.
"As border patrol we protect our nations borders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year," Pitones says.
And while doing so, agents become close to one another, making it harder when a fallen comrade dies in the line of duty. Agent Pitones' reflection hits close to home.
"Most recently, on March 15th, we lost one of our own Border Patrol Agents Alejandro Flores Banuelos," he shares.
Flores was honored in April. In his last moments, he was helping an elderly person in a car accident; visibility on the highway was low when he was struck by a vehicle.
Border Patrol says Flores’s legacy of service will serve to inspire them all, and he will be remembered for his penchant to helping others.
As of recent, agents have been helping children and families whose lives are in danger trying to desperately come into the country; offering aid, in addition to protecting our nations borders, is something they take pride in.