The Tucson Sector has in recent years become the most active along the international border.

Of the 723,000 apprehensions the Border Patrol made in fiscal 2009, nearly 241,000 were in the Tucson Sector alone. While high, the figure actually represents a trend of decreased arrests in the Tucson Sector and along the border as a whole.

Apprehensions peaked in 2000, with 1.6 million nationwide and 616,000 in the Tucson Sector. Since then, apprehension figures have generally fallen on an annual basis, according to the U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics.

"The Border Patrol has seen a steady decline in the number of apprehensions within the Tucson Sector," said Border Patrol spokesman Mario Escalante. "We now have better technology, more infrastructures, and more personnel than ever before. The proper mix of these elements, along with our defense in-depth strategy, combines to give the Border Patrol more situational awareness now than at any point in our history."

Arizona also remains one of the nation's drug-smuggling hot zones, with untold tons of contraband entering the country through the state.

Recent border initiatives that federal law enforcement agencies have undertaken — including the addition of hundreds more Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector, where today 3,000 agents work — have netted an increase in contraband seizures along the southern border.

"Over the last several years our agency has grown tremendously not only in personnel but in tactical infrastructure and technology to the field of operation," Escalante said. "In other words, looking at the apprehension statistics would indicate that the increase in personnel, technology and infrastructure is having a deterrent effect and fewer people are attempting to cross."

In a speech at the Brookings Institute last month, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said confiscations of drugs, weapons and money in the Southwest had all increased significantly.

Since March 2009, drug seizures increased 15 percent to 1.65 million kilos; firearm seizures were up 29 percent; and currency confiscations had increased nearly 40 percent, with $85.7 million taken, Napolitano said.

A large portion of that enforcement work takes place in the wilds between the border and Tucson.


Tucson Sector  apprehensions

Year             Nationwide         Tucson Sector

2008             723,840             317,709

2007             876,787             378,323

2006             1,089,136             392,323

2005             1,189,108             430,090

2004             1,160,395             491,771

2003             931,557             347,263

2002             955,310             336,648

2001             1,266,214             449,675

2000             1,676,438             616,346

1999             1,579,010             270,449


Source: U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics


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