SAN DIEGO — U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the San Diego Sector (SDC) wrapped up a productive fiscal year (FY) in 2020.
SDC agents conduct law enforcement operations along 60 miles of land border with Mexico, as well as 114 miles of coastal border. The sector has nearly 2,100 uniformed agents who staff six line stations (Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Brown Field, Campo, and Boulevard) and two interior stations (Murrieta and San Clemente), which are tactically positioned along the two northern egress routes away from the border.
From October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020, SDC apprehended 53,282 people who entered the U.S. illegally. This represents a decrease of approximately eight percent from FY19, where SDC saw 58,049 total apprehensions. Of significant note, the demographics of those encountered has changed drastically. Encounters of unaccompanied juveniles is down by 44%, with 1,855 encounter in all of FY20. Encounters of family units has declined by 69%, with only 5,005 families encountered during FY20.
There were also 54 assaults against agents during FY20; this is a 65% decrease, largely attributed to the new border wall construction. Regardless of the obstacles, SDC agents still managed to conduct 45 rescue operations in FY20, which is an increase of 125 percent from FY19. This number does not include the countless calls for aid, from people in distress, which agents respond to almost daily.
Agents also seized record amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine. The 383 pounds of fentanyl seized in FY20 is an increase of 255 percent from FY19 statistics (107 pounds). The 7,169 pounds of methamphetamine reflects an 83 percent increase from FY19 statistics (3,918 pounds).
SDC agents also seized 10,828 pounds of marijuana, which is a 230 percent increase from FY 2019 (3,273 pounds). Agents observed a sharp decrease in cocaine seizures: 491 pounds in FY 20 versus 1,284 pounds in FY19, which is a 61 percent decrease. Agents also seized 178 pounds of heroin versus 287 pounds in FY19, a decrease of 38 percent.
SDC, along with DHS partners, stopped a record number of maritime smuggling attempts (309) and record setting apprehensions in the maritime domain (1,273). Although this is a small percentage of sector-wide apprehensions, maritime smuggling is especially dangerous. It often involves squeezing over a dozen or more migrants into an open-hulled fishing boat (panga) that is grossly overladen. There is typically no lighting and migrants often have inadequate food, water, or safety vests.
These accomplishments came in the face of many challenges and dangers. Operations turned on a dime in response to COVID-19 and agents answered the call valiantly.
Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke stated, “These results are a direct testament to the heart and soul of our agents. In the midst of turmoil, uncertainty, and even global pandemics, our agents show up and get the job done. Our actions at the border reverberate throughout all American communities. I am proud of all the men and women safeguarding our Nation here in the San Diego Sector.”