Pot is one hot commodity this year -- at least, judging by the insanely large loads the U.S. Border Patrol have seized this summer.
During the month of July alone, Tucson seized more than 100,000 pounds of pot -- bringing the total poundage to 1,065,325 this year. That's well above the 722,000 pounds the Border Patrol had seized by the end of last July.
Why the dramatic increase? Tucson sector spokesperson Mario Escalante believes it's because the Border Patrol is getting so damn good at catching the bad guys.
"We attribute our success to us allocating necessary resources where we deem necessary," he says.
Yuma sector spokesperson Ben Vik has another (probably more complete) explanation: Sure, Border Patrol strategies have improved. But cartels may also be bringing in more drugs -- and in higher volumes -- in response to new Border Patrol strategies: Rather than bringing across lots of little loads, they're making fewer trips with more drugs.
Additionally, cartels have begun to build more tunnels across the border -- two were recently discovered for the first time ever in Pima county. And drug lords are sending one-man ultralights (sort of like a small motorized hang glider) stacked to the brim with contraband to fly over the border walls.
And we're still weeks away from the typically huge fall harvest.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.