Published January 22, 2013
The "Midnight Express" can't do it all.
The aforementioned 39-foot-high speed boats are a favorite of the U.S. border patrol, which they contend is the fastest law enforcement boat in the world, with its 1,200 horsepower.
But for border patrol agents in Southern California, horsepower isn't enough and they are asking local residents to join the hunt for smugglers along the coast of Del Mar, which is just 36 miles north of Tijuana, Mexico.
"We are actively pursuing this and we are asking for the public's help because we can't be everywhere," agent Edward Cleary said during a Del Mar City Council meeting on Jan. 14, according to The Coast News.
The border patrol is asking residents to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity that could hint to drug smuggling or human smuggling, like "a whole bunch of people running through your neighborhood at 2 or 3 in the morning into a van."
He described well-planned out plots in which smugglers use panga boats, or fishing boats, to drop off their drugs or in some cases, people. Spotters drive around the coast looking for areas without police enforcement and using radios communicate with the pangas about where to land.
"Everyone jumps out and runs to a van or pickup truck," he said to the newspaper. "Normally, they are close to a major road with freeway access.
Cleary said maritime landings from smugglers are becoming more of a problem as land security increases. Unlike on land, the ocean is a wide expanse free of multi-million dollar fences, cameras, and drones making it difficult to stop smugglers.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were 228 watercrafts ready to be deployed in 2011 compare to the 26,875 vehicles used on land.
The CBP's Coastal Border Enforcement Team isn't alone in patrolling the waterways, they work in conjunction with local police, the U.S. Coast Guard, and now - local residents.
Last week, police seized $7 million worth of marijuana at a commercial truck cross point on the Arizona/Mexico border town of Nogales.