Joe: Last summer I had a customer who owed me some money, and she came to me one day and offered me $200 if she could just borrow my car for a few hours. When she returned, I found out that she had picked up a load of illegal aliens at Arivaca and dropped them off at Home Depot on Irvington or Burger King on Valencia in the southernmost area of Tucson. That’s a big distribution point there. They are then picked up by other smugglers and mostly go to Phoenix
DefenderUSA: What did the customer owe you money for?
Joe: I was selling her drugs. Once I found out how much money you could make smuggling illegals, I started doing it myself. If someone was into me for $4,000-6,000, I’d ask them to start smuggling, too, and then turn the money over to me. Sometimes I also paid the Mexicans who supplied me with product by smuggling illegals for them.
DefenderUSA: Did anyone ever get caught smuggling? What happened to them?
Joe: One time, someone borrowed my car and did get caught. They impounded it at the Border Patrol station in Nogales, and they called me about it. I just told them that someone had borrowed it from me, and I didn’t know why. I went down there and picked it up. They don’t do anything to the people they catch smuggling.
DefenderUSA: Did you or others ever use vehicles other than private ones?
Joe: Oh, they used everything they could get their hands on: U-Hauls, buses, mini-vans, rental cars sometimes.
DefenderUSA: How did you pick up your “cargo?”
Joe: I never saw the people who gave me directions. They’d call me on the cell phone and tell me which Mile Marker to go to on Arivaca Rd. Currently it’s Mile Marker 11, if they haven’t changed it. I’d drive past that location, honking the horn 3 times, then drive about 2 miles beyond. I’d make a U-turn, drive back, honk 3 times, unlock the doors and just wait. Pretty soon several people would run out of the bushes, through the barbed wire fence, and just jump in my car. They’d lie down on the floor, in the trunk, wherever they couldn’t be seen while I was driving down the road.
Sometimes, I’d drive further South toward the Mexican border; instead of stopping in Arivaca, I’d turn toward Sasabe at the fork in Arivaca Road.
I’d go to Sells on the Indian reservation, walk into the hamburger joint there, and ask for Paul. He gives illegals safe refuge once they’re across the border, and houses them temporarily for transport in his shed and barn. He’d come into the restaurant, after they’d called him, and then he’d lead me to his ramshackle “safe houses.” I’d drive up there and they’d pile in the car, same as at Arivaca.
The other way a freelancer can get people to smuggle is to go to the point of entry in Nogales and cross over to the Mexican side. There are a lot of Mexicans who work there, helping the tourists find what they want, and they will just ask you if you need help finding ANYTHING. You could tell them that you were a coyote looking for paying passengers, and in an hour you would have a truck load.
DefenderUSA: Did you ever have any trouble going through certain checkpoints the Border Patrol has set up on the roads to Tucson?
Joe: Not usually. The head smuggler usually has a cousin or someone like that who’s been bought off at the checkpoint. The smuggler sends through several trucks in succession (especially if they are smuggling dope), and one is a decoy. So while the paid-off Border Patrol contact has pulled over the decoy, all the other ones that are loaded are being waved through.
The other thing you can do is to drop off your “passengers” before the checkpoints, let them walk around them, and then just pick them up a couple of miles away on the other side.
DefenderUSA: How did you get paid when you dropped off the illegals?
Joe: I’d drive up to the parking lot of Home Depot or Burger King, unlock all the doors, and walk away from the car for a few minutes. When I came back, the illegals were gone and the money was in an envelope under the seat. The amount was always right, and I never saw the person who left the envelope. I got $250-300 per head for the illegals I smuggled. I remember one day that I made $2,200 in 10 hours!
DefenderUSA: Did you get to talk to any of the illegals? What ages and genders were they?
Joe: I never talked to them; I barely saw them, and we all wanted to keep it that way. Mostly they were younger people and men, but there would be times when I would have a carload of all women, and there was even a time when I had a 60-something lady carrying a baby! They were no trouble—they just laid there til we had reached our destination.
Their entire goal was to get deep into the U.S. where they could blend in, and by the time they were being transported to their destinations, they were already set up with fake ID’s. I even made them some fake temporary work visas if the boss asked me to, for an extra fee. They looked fake, but they still passed.
DefenderUSA: Where do the illegals come from and how many people were in the ring you were working?
Joe: The head smuggler has about 15 people working for him. All the people come from Mexico. Either they are Mexicans or they come from other nations, but they all cross into the U.S. from Mexico. Their guide may spend up to 10 days walking with them into the country to get to the pickup point. Because the Border Patrol knows about it, and their enforcement is good, usually they sleep during the day and only walk at night. There are also underground bunkers all over the desert that they can hide in. The Border Patrol’s infrared scopes won’t pick them up if they are below the surface of the ground.
DefenderUSA: What about illegals carrying dope?
Joe: Some of them have to carry marijuana, heroin, or cocaine in order to pay for their passage. Each guy usually ends up carrying 100 lbs. with some cocaine wrapped inside. They also carry methamphetamine in 5 gallon paint buckets. Just one 5 gal bucket is worth over $1 million on the street, and a “train” will contain $15-25 million.
DefenderUSA: Where are they smuggling now?
Joe: It’s all over the border, but a lot of traffic has shifted to the Yuma area because of all the border-watchers near Three Points and in Cochise County from the Minuteman Project. They come through San Luis on the Arizona side, and Algodones in Mexico, into California. Yuma is the outlaw capitol of the world, mostly because it’s only 5 minutes from Mexico! It’s mostly biker dudes there, and it’s very peaceful, because they are trying to keep a low profile, and they know if they get into trouble, then they can just putt-putt across the border. I think there is less law enforcement in Yuma because someone is being bought off. I know the farmers there are really hurting for help because of the increased border enforcement. They are so desperate to find someone to help pick their produce that they are going to high schools in the area, asking students to just “pick for one day!”
DefenderUSA: You said you worked with illegals before when you were planting trees. Tell me more about that.
Joe: Twenty years ago, I was working for Ranier Tree Planting Company, planting trees for Weyerhauser in Oregon. The boss bought 12 Mexicans at $500 a head. They’d bus all of us out to the mountain, and there we’d sit all month, doing nothing but planting trees. Once a week we’d get a keg of beer and some ladies of the evening brought up to us. The Mexicans wanted to stay on the mountain as long as they could because they didn’t need to worry about anyone reporting them as illegal. We were out in the middle of nowhere! The bad thing about it for them was they were getting 4 cents a tree, while I was getting 12 cents. So I made $12-15 an hour, and they got minimum wage!
DefenderUSA: Did any of the border crossers ever use the water tanks put out by Humane Borders?
Joe: Those water tanks are such a joke, because the Mexicans won’t drink out of them! They think they’re poisoned and drinking from them will make them sick, or that there is someone sitting by them in a blind waiting to bust them! Guides will walk 3 miles away from them just to avoid them!
DefenderUSA: Just in case any of you reading this would like to observe any illegal alien drops, here are the addresses of the 2 places in Tucson, both off the I-19 freeway North from Nogales:
1155 W Irvington Rd
1681 W Valencia Rd
By the time this information gets out, it might already be too dated to be of use, so no guarantees are made about specific activities occurring in certain places.