EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) — Border Patrol checkpoints have been back open for almost two months, and agents say they've been seizing a lot of drugs there since.
The agency is now questioning what was getting through while checkpoints were closed.
For about six months, these checkpoints had to be closed down so that agents could help with large groups of migrant apprehensions at the border.
“How you doing today, sir? Are you a U.S. citizen?” said Border Patrol agent Sara Cabrera at the I-10 checkpoint.
As she questions drivers of cars passing through, another agent walks alongside vehicles with a K-9 that sniffs for anything suspicious.
The I-10 checkpoint, just in between Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Deming, New Mexico, is one of the busiest in the El Paso Sector, according to the Border Patrol.
KFOX14 asked what checkpoints looked like when people were still driving through the area, but there were no agents to stop cars.
“Nobody was checking,” said Border Patrol agent Fidel Baca.
Baca said since checkpoints have been reopened for about two months, it seems like they've seized more drugs in a short period of time than before.
“When they first reopened, we put a stop to that flow [of drugs],” said Baca. “But it was pretty overwhelming, the amount of stuff that was coming.”
From marijuana and cocaine to meth, Ecstasy and heroin, Baca says they've made 96 seizures and apprehended 309 people.
“We actually had law enforcement agencies They reached out to come down because what they were seeing is that they were catching large amounts of meth up there,” said Baca.
When checkpoints were closed, agents said other nearby agencies traced large amounts of meth back to Mexico.
“Is that where you live?” asked Cabrera, stopping drivers at the I-10 checkpoint.
Though immigration is the primary focus of checkpoints, agents believe they’re also a crucial place to stop drug or even human smuggling.
Agents keeping a tight grip and eye out for suspicious activity are glad to be able to manage checkpoints again.
The Border Patrol said things are starting to get back to normal at the six checkpoints in our area.
KFOX14 is still waiting on specific numbers to compare drug flow activity from this time last year so that we can track how drastic the change is from this year.