BLM targets smugglers on public lands

Posted: Updated:

A joint federal and state operation is under way to improve safety and security on some of Arizona's public lands.

Bureau of Land Management law enforcement rangers and resource specialists have joined forces for two-week periods as part of a law enforcement surge.

The rangers have completed the second of those two-week surges. More surge operations are planned for winter and spring, which are the prime times for human and drug smuggling in southern and central Arizona.

The targeted lands are the Ironwood Forest National Monument and the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

The law enforcement surge in these monuments is part of Operation Reclaim Our Arizona Monuments (ROAM), which is a combined law enforcement and resource restoration/protection effort.

As part of the operation, law enforcement rangers provide security and support to crews cleaning up trash and restoring landscapes damaged by smugglers.

Here are some results of the Operation ROAM work since Oct. 1:


  • 15,825


    pounds (almost 8 tons) of trash cleaned up  feet of illegal roads blocked and returned to a natural state
  • 1,056

  •  11  places where fence damage by smugglers have been identified

  •  1.3 miles of fence line patrolled and all smuggling breaks repaired in the Table Top Wilderness

  • 10  trash sites needing cleanup identified

  • 9,762 pounds of narcotics seized

  • 33  incidences of assisting other agencies in dealing with smuggling of humans and drugs

  • 13  abandoned vehicles removed from Federal land

  • 28  layup camps used by smugglers identified

  •  14 listening or observation posts used by smugglers identified

The Sonoran Desert National Monument is 487,000 acres of public land southwest of Phoenix on both sides of Interstate 8, roughly between Casa Grande and Gila Bend. It is about 60 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, but is used by smugglers as a conduit to I-8 and elsewhere.

The Ironwood Forest National Monument comprises 129,000 acres 18 miles west-northwest of Tucson. It is about 50 miles from the border, but also is used as a smuggling corridor.

Copyright 2011 KPHO. All rights reserved.