Behind the scenes of 'Border Wars' in Arizona


by Sybil Hoffman

Posted on October 13, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 13 at 12:21 PM

NOGALES, Ariz. -- They’re trained to make decisions in a blink of an eye. 3TV was the only station to get an exclusive interview with the "Border Wars" reality TV series producer while the National Geographic crew spent weeks filming in Nogales.

Everyday trains rumble through the Deconcini Port of Entry in Nogales. As every car enters the massive steel fence, a Customs and Border Protection officer scrutinizes the contents.

"The train is going 5 miles per hour so when it's coming through the screen you only have a couple seconds to make a decision," said CBP Officer Glady McNamara.

For McNamara, discovering drugs is the payoff.

"Every time you get something, it's like the first time, at least for me," she said. "I feel the same adrenaline every time."

"She does represent the best of what they've got going down here," said "Border Wars" series producer Nick Stein.

On the upcoming "Border Wars" episode, crews were there as McNamara spotted something suspicious.

"They saw welding that somebody had been tampering with this thing and by the time they got off this panel, sure enough there was a rope and they started pulling the rope, here comes the dope, and it was just kilo after kilo after kilo,” Stein said.

Stein pointed out that during filming, "My cameraman Tony is way down, underneath that train, with a rather large camera pointed in a rather awkward position, sometimes he has to hold some very difficult positions, which is physically straining, he is sweating but sure enough he always gets his shot."

According to McNamara, "It's not acted ... they were following you all the time, as soon as something happens, they're just right there."

While "Border Wars" is a ratings blockbuster, for McNamara the unexpected fame comes with a cost.

"You don't feel so safe," she said. "I live in town so people recognize you in the store and sometimes you don't know and they're approaching you to ask you, 'hey you're the one,' so you never know."

Stein is sensitive to the fact that scouts are constantly watching the officers and even realizes his show gives them an edge.

"They know when they're shift changes, they have nicknames for the agents and officers," Stein said. "They're watching everything."

While "Border Wars" has given McNamara public affirmation for her work, she says that’s not what matters most.

“When you appreciate what you're doing, it's not about recognition," she said. "It's just self-pride."

"Border Wars" will air Sunday, Oct. 16, at 10 p.m., on the National Geographic Channel.