Border Patrol plans on rolling out stricter punishments for repeat offendersPosted: Updated:
ELOY, Ariz. -- The Silverbell Estates in Eloy is quiet but neighbors are shouting for help.
“We’re stuck between a rock and a hard spot,” said Jo Bode, captain of the block watch.
Bode said the homes are stuck in the middle of a drug corridor and neighbors have to carry guns at all times.
An abandoned ranch house close to Bode’s home was found packed with clothes, backpacks and water bottles.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the house is used by the drug cartel for both human and drug smuggling.
“You always have this fear in the back of your mind when you leave your house what you’re going to come home too,” Bode said.
Two neighbors' homes were recently robbed. Bode is sure border crossers broke into the homes.
Pennee Murphree also lives in Silverbell.
Murphree is fed up with border crossers coming right back to the United States after they're deported to Mexico.
“There is a criminal element that is very, very strong in this area,” Murphree said.
The Border Patrol Agency hopes to end the revolving door with a color coded “Consequence Delivery System.”
The plan would divide border crossers into seven categories.
First-time criminal offenders could face prosecution.
Under the plan first-time offenders would face different punishments from those who have several border crossing offenses.
Illegal immigrants would also be sent back to Mexico cities far away from their smuggling contacts.
“We’d like to see our federal government tell us the truth and I don’t believe they are telling us the truth,” Murphree said.
Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Mexico and border security remains on the top of her priority list.
“While we keep our eye on the Middle East, Africa and other places that are obvious hotspots, this is one that we also work very closely with because it's so close to home,” she said.
Last year agents caught a little more than 300,000 people crossing the border, down from nearly 2 million arrests more than a decade ago.
Border Patrol credits a beefed-up staff to the drop off of people trying to get into the U.S.
But Murphree and Bode say the criminal element from the drug carter is only getting stronger.
“You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times,” Bode said.