US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Archived Content

In an effort to keep current, the archive contains content from a previous administration or is otherwise outdated.

Smugglers Wary of Airborne Counter-Scout Operation

Release Date: 
October 6, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. – Over the past six months, Tucson Sector Border Patrol has been successfully targeting and apprehending scouts as part of a special enforcement operation.

The operation is specifically designed to target cartel scouts who guide smugglers along the border in their attempts to evade law enforcement. This operation requires Office of Air and Marine’s (OAM) Tucson Air Branch air interdiction agents and helicopters to insert operators from Border Patrol’s Special Operations Division (SOD) on high mountain tops near scout locations, allowing the agents to interdict scouts and dismantle their operations. Agents often fast rope from the helicopter to the ground in an effort to quickly make an apprehension. Since its inception, 24 scouts have been apprehended, 6,500 pounds of narcotics have been seized and 11 rescues have been conducted.

Scouts are used by transnational criminal organizations to help facilitate the smuggling of contraband and illegal aliens. Scouting networks in the Tucson Sector are complex in nature, often involving several key players, locations and technology including radios, solar panels and cell phones.  Agents have also discovered food supplies to last for several days or weeks, camping supplies, and weapons. Scouts represent one of the most dangerous elements Border Patrol agents encounter in the field. The Tucson Sector will remain focused on targeting and countering their efforts.

The current enforcement operation is being conducted jointly by the Tucson Sector SOD and Tucson Air Branch.  SOD is a unit of Border Patrol agents highly trained in specialized skills that provide an immediate response to high-risk incidents, emergencies and special operations.

The more effective CBP becomes in combating transnational criminal organizations, the more violent the organizations become, making the job more dangerous for agents on the ground and in the air.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017