Rancher claims cartel activity captured on camera

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A southern Arizona rancher is sharing video, he says, that shows cartel activity happening on his property. Jim Chilton has a 50,000-acre ranch in Arivaca.

He claims game cameras mounted throughout the property captured various groups of drug smugglers in 2016.

"Hundreds and hundreds," says Chilton. "The most obvious is the big 70 lb packs of marijuana."

Chilton says border-crossers have cut through his ranch for years, but times have changed.

"The number of people coming across who are just good people coming across as immigrants has decreased dramatically," says Chilton. "I think that it's mainly drug-packers now."

Chilton says he communicates with the border patrol and fellow ranchers. He says the answer is a border wall with agents right behind it.

[Special section: 24 Hours on the Border]

"I would like to see Trump build a wall and put forward operation bases at the wall, not 80 miles in Tucson," says Chilton. "Get the border patrol off their wazoos in Tucson and out to the international boundary."

Chilton provided video of the international boundary bordering his property. The video shows where the wall ends with parts of the border protected only with a barbed wire fence.

Chilton is part of a coalition of ranchers urging Arizona congress members to get behind Trump’s immigration proposals, no matter the cost.

"What's the social cost?” asks Chilton.  “I mean hundreds of billions of dollars of social costs, people being on heroin, cocaine, we've got to eliminate as much as possible.”

Tucson Sector Border Patrol statistics show the number of agents has dropped slightly from year to year, but apprehensions were up in fiscal year 2016.  A spokesman said, as of today, there are 3,759 agents in the Tucson Sector with the department typically having about 4,000 agents on the job.

President Trump plans to add an extra 5,000 border patrol agents across the southern border.  The Tucson Sector spokesman said the department has not received any details about how the administration’s proposals might affect staffing, but added the Tucson Sector is always hiring.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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