Trafficking illegal drugs from Mexico into the U.S. recently got a little tougher for smugglers and drug cartels. U.S. Border Patrol Agents have added wild mustangs as their new weapon to tighten the border.
ATVs and trucks had a hard time moving through the thick brush in the 316-mile stretch along the Rio Grande. The area gave easy access for marijuana and other illegal drugs to be smuggled into the country.
So Border Patrol Agents decided to go back in time to the roots of the program and enlist the help of horses. Wild mustangs were chosen because it was the land where they were born and they know the rugged terrain. The horses trust each other and make good teams, patrolling the area in pairs.
Since arriving in July, the horses are credited with seizing a record 930,000 pounds of marijuana and arresting 355 suspects.
“This is a real old-school patrol,” said Supervisory Agent Daniel Milian. “It’s a great resource to have.”
In 1924 when the U.S. Border Patrol began, agents were required to bring their own horse on patrol. The mounted officers looked mostly for whiskey bootleggers and illegal Chinese immigrants. In 1935 horses were phased out in favor of motorized vehicles.
The 11 horses in the program are part of the controversial Bureau of Land Management roundups that capture wild mustangs and feral horses. Most of the animals end up confined in prison-like corrals or sent to slaughterhouses in Mexico or Canada.
The horses enlisted by the U.S. Border Patrol were sent to the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Kansas where they were broken and trained by qualified inmates. The horses were taught to tolerate loud noises such as gunshots and people. The inmates trained the mustangs for 90 to 120 days.
On a recent patrol a 3-year-old gelding named Cash and his Border Patrol partner Clyde came across smugglers moving drugs from a raft into a car. They chased the vehicle along the bush and narrow roads until it flipped over. That seizure involved 700 pounds of marijuana.
Photo from randa via flickr.