Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels appeared at the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Wednesday hearing on the southern border crisis to share first-hand experience of how his county has been impacted by the lawlessness at the border.
“Our southern border, against all public comfort statements out of Washington D.C., is in the worst shape I have ever seen it,” Dannels said. “Communities have been neglected and abandoned, relying on our own local and state resources to address a border that is in crisis mode.”
This five-hour hearing was the first the committee has held since Republicans took control of the House. As part of his introduction, Dannels shared some insight into how the border crisis affects his county; for instance, 1578 suspects were booked into Cochise County jail for border-related crimes, of which only 78 were of foreign birth. Moreover, he said his deputies have been placed in “life-threatening scenarios” dealing with the cartels.
According to Dannels, Cochise County is at great risk of danger because of its location along the border. Two cities in the Republic of Mexico, Agua Prieta and Naco, are situated along the border in the county’s area, and Dannels said these cities are operational centers for the notorious drug cartels. The county’s proximity to this area allegedly makes it a hot spot for what Dannels called “highly sophisticated and innovative” cartel smuggling activity. He said that the cartel uses methods such as cloned vehicles meant to appear as law enforcement’s, encrypted communications, and scout counter surveillance along smuggling routes to evade law enforcement and keep drug and human trafficking going.
Lethal fentanyl is one of the common drugs Dannels mentioned encountering. He shared that over 12,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized along Arizona’s southern border in 2022, which Dannels said equivocates to over 20 million dosages of the substance, four times the amount seized in 2021. Recently, a three-year-old child died after ingesting a fentanyl pill, and the Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) is currently investigating the incident.
Furthermore, Dannels shared that human smuggling presents just as much of a danger to the people of his county. He shared the story of Wanda, a county resident killed by a 16-year-old US citizen who ran a red light while fleeing law enforcement with three smuggled non-citizens in his car. Human smuggling also presents a danger for non-citizens, as Dannels shared that during the past two years, over 1,000 migrants have died on US soil after illegally crossing the border. He said the cartels smuggled these migrants under inhumane conditions, and his deputies have had to investigate their cases as potential homicides when bodies are discovered.
“I’ll say this to y’all, I didn’t come out here 2,000 miles with a political agenda, I came out here with a public safety agenda, and that is to protect all people,” Dannels said. “You got to do that with border security. That’s where it starts.”
Ultimately, Dannels said that the county has worked to find ways to mitigate the border crisis, and while those efforts are beneficial, help is still needed from the federal government. He made several recommendations to federal leaders to help at the border, including hiring more asylum hearing officers for the ports of entry, addressing the criminal cartels, and removing “politics” from the border discussion to focus on what actually matters, helping the people impacted by the crisis.
Moreover, on the same day as the hearing, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) reignited the push to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (D) for allegedly allowing the situation at the border to grow worse in recent years.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
One Thought to “Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels Speaks in Washington on Southern Border Crisis Affect in Arizona”
“…Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) reignited the push to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (D) for allegedly allowing the situation at the border to grow worse in recent years.”
There is nothing alleged about Mayokas allowing the situation at the border to grow worse. It is a fact.