Mesh added to US border fence in Nogales to deter smuggling

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The U.S. Border Patrol is adding mesh panels to the border fence in Nogales, Arizona, to deter people from smuggling goods into the city's downtown area.

The Arizona Daily Star reported Tuesday that the agency started to install the panels in July and will add another 700 feet (213 meters) of mesh in the area of West International Avenue.

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There was no specific incident or apprehension connected to the decision, the Tucson Sector Border Patrol said, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Customs and Border Protection officials declined to provide information about smuggling incidents and the amount of contraband seized over the last five years in response to a public records request submitted by the newspaper.

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The officials cited an exemption that protects records compiled for law enforcement purposes that if released "would disclose techniques and/or procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law."

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The Nogales International newspaper first reported that by mid-September the mesh material on the fence stretched approximately 75 feet (22 meters) in an area popular with families visiting from both sides of the border.

Border infrastructure is constantly updated based on resources and the project was part of that effort, said Chris Sullivan, a spokesman for the Tucson Sector Border Patrol.

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He called area where mesh was placed "an urban environment," and said that "there's always that criminal element that tries to find vulnerabilities within our infrastructure."

Sullivan could not immediately provide the total cost of the project, but said some updates are done with available supplies that officials keep to make fixes or improvements to the border fence.

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Arizona's border with Mexico spans 372 miles (598 kilometers). The stretch of border has 123 miles (197 kilometers) of taller pedestrian fencing and 183 miles (294 kilometers) of vehicle barriers.

About 18 percent of the border in Arizona is not fenced.

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