Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey joined other law enforcement officials at a press conference Wednesday to describe the successes and results of the Arizona Border Strike Force.
Ducey addressed issues involving border security, such as drug trafficking and human smuggling, and noted these problems are a top priority.
“When it comes to matters of public safety and national security, talk without action isn’t just cheap, it’s dangerous and deadly,” Ducey said.
Ducey’s main goal at the press conference was to outline the quantitative successes that the Border Strike Force has resulted in since it was originally implemented.
[RAW VIDEO: Ducey says Arizona Border Strike Force is a success]
“Since 2015, Border Strike Force Operations led to the seizure of over 60,000 pounds of marijuana, 295 firearms, 173,000 rounds of ammunition, 50.6 million hits of heroin, and enough fentanyl to kill over 11 million Americans,” Ducey said.
Ducey also said the operation has made more than 3,200 arrests since its creation. He noted these were “exceptional” results when it comes to protecting Americans, and said he hopes to see more of them in the future.
Ducey said he wanted to take decisive action when he first took office and has since worked with border officials to send more resources to the border. That’s why he created the Arizona Border Strike Force in 2015.
“This interagency team has demonstrated what can be accomplished when federal, state and local departments and agencies work together for the good of all Americans,” Ducey said.
The governor said he is continuing his efforts to improve public safety at the border by increasing money allocated to the Border Strike Force to $2.9 million in the latest state budget, which will add 12 state troopers to the team.
Ducey said the money will begin to arrive this month and will help him achieve his overall goal of 24/7 coverage at the border.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels also spoke at the press conference, highlighting the changes he has seen in his county since the Border Strike Force was created.
“Since the implementation of our zero-tolerance program, those that choose to smuggle illegal drugs have been apprehended in Cochise County,” Dannels said. “One hundred percent of those individuals are sitting in the Arizona Department of Corrections, i.e. prison.”
Another Arizona border county has also contributed to the success of the operation.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier credited to the collaboration between departments.
“This is a transnational crime issue that dramatically impacts public safety in our respective counties,” Napier said. “The sheriffs cannot do this alone. The Department of Public Safety and our state resources cannot do this alone. Our federal partners cannot do this alone. It absolutely requires a coordinated, collaborative and comprehensive effort to solve these problems.”
Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Frank Milstead said he is proud to be a part of the governor’s efforts because it means saving lives.
“I take great pride in trying to keep these drugs out of the hands of kids and changing lives,” Milstead said.
The ultimate goal of the Border Strike Force is to deter, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations that breach the border in their efforts to set up business in Arizona, according the operation’s website.
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