Border Patrol’s busiest checkpoint gets new state-of-the-art station

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FALFURRIAS, Texas (Border Report) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a dedication ceremony for a new border checkpoint on Thursday. $ 30 million border patrols, the busiest inspection post in the entire Southwest. frontier.

The new station, located on a southern Texas highway about 65 miles north of Mexico, is equipped with innovative technology and several other inspection lanes, which officials say will help officers better control traffic. vehicles and, ultimately, public safety.

“This checkpoint is the biggest checkpoint, in terms of innovation, and will be a key checkpoint on how to build other stations in the future,” said Juan Gutierrez, deputy patrol officer in charge of the Falfurrias station to a crowd of 200 people gathered for the ribbon cutting. “This station is going to be the envy of the whole country because of what we have here.”

The facility – which actually opened to traffic on May 1 – inspects an average of 10,000 vehicles per day, including 2,500 commercial vehicles. During the holidays, such as July 4, Gutierrez said officers can inspect up to 19,000 vehicles.

This area is part of the Rio Grande sector of the border patrol, which is the busiest area in the country for arrests of migrants.

The new station is equipped with eight primary inspection lanes and 16 secondary inspection lanes, eight of which are for commercial vehicles. There are two Z-Portals, or radiation detection portals, as well as license plate readers with RFIDs and on-site kennels for canine units.

“We are the first border patrol station in the country to have Z-Portal systems at a border patrol checkpoint,” said Thomas Slowinski, border patrol officer in charge of the Falfurrias station.

Thomas Slowinski, patrol officer in charge of the US border patrol station of Falfurrias, speaks during an inauguration ceremony on Thursday, September 5, 2019, of the new Falfurrias border patrol checkpoint on the highway 281 in South Texas. (Border Patrol Photo / Sandra Sanchez).

“The technology and the capabilities that we have here today at this checkpoint are really great. This is a great opportunity for our officers to enforce the law. They will ensure the security of the country and ensure good border security, ”he said. “This facility has improved the safety and security of all officers. It will be a great place to work.

In the mid-1980s, the first checkpoint opened on this stretch of Highway 281, about 45 minutes north of McAllen. The highway was only two lanes wide and officers inspected the vehicles’ running gear using a “ramp purchased by Walmart,” Slowinski said.

The checkpoint was upgraded in 1994 to three lanes, but eventually the traffic turned out to be too much, and as the highway expanded, the need for a better and larger inspection post grew. is also accentuated, he said. The old station, which was a few meters south of the new station, was razed to the ground.

Checkpoint is a deterrent against smuggling

The desolate bush here is punitive and over the years hundreds of migrants have died trying to escape the inspection post bypassing it and ending up on these isolated ranches. As a result, many migrants are smuggled into car trunks, as part of farming and producing in freight trucks or found in hidden compartments of vehicles, officials said.

A sign to discourage smuggling is visible on Route 281 northbound just before the Falfurrias border patrol checkpoint. (Border report photo / Sandra Sanchez).

So far this year, officers at the Falfurrias checkpoint have responded to 750 cases of smuggling and “rescued” migrants who were smuggled from 200 vehicles, Slowinski said. They pursued 400 cases of contraband originating from this checkpoint.

Drug and bomb sniffer dog units patrol every vehicle that passes here, and officers ask all drivers and passengers if they are US citizens.

Vehicles that receive special attention from officers are taken to a secondary inspection station where further testing is performed.

Colonel Kenneth Reed of the US Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday, September 5, 2019 that the new Falfurrias border patrol checkpoint “will bring value”. (Border report photo / Sandra Sanchez).

The facility has the capacity to potentially have 12 inspection lanes, which will likely be required if a northern causeway leading to the popular tourist resort of South Padre Island is constructed.

Slowinski called the new facility a “force multiplier”.

Col. Kenneth Reed of the US Army Corps of Engineers said, “This facility will allow this station and throughout the Rio Grande Valley to manage the capability and have the capabilities to accomplish the mission we need for our nation. . This is the value that this facility brings.

Sandra Sanchez can be contacted at [email protected]

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