About 30 percent of all Border Patrol apprehensions along the United States border with Mexico last year happened in the Tucson Sector, according to new numbers released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
For fiscal year 2013, which ended Sept. 30, agents in the Tucson area apprehended 120,939 people, seized 1.2 million pounds of marijuana, rescued 802 people who needed medical help and reported 194 deaths.
Nationwide there were 420,789 apprehensions and 414,397 of them were in the border with Mexico, the rest happened in coastal border sectors and the northern border.
“Arizona as a whole continues to be one of the business places for illegal immigration in America,” said Andy Adame, a spokesman with Border Patrol.
Agents in the Tucson sector arrested 10,675 juveniles, 9,070 were unaccompanied minors.
For the last couple of years, the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas has seen a significant increase in smuggling of people and drugs. For the first time in 20 years, there were 33,514 more arrests in that sector than in Tucson. Until now, the Tucson sector had double or triple the number of arrests than the rest of the country.
In fiscal year 2000, Border Patrol reported 616,346 apprehensions, the highest number on record. The number of arrests fluctuated between 450,000 and 350,000 during the years 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Since 2004 the number of arrests has been declining each year to 120,939 apprehensions as of last year.
Adame said he attributes part of the drop to an increase in technology along the border, the doubling of the number of Border Patrol agents and the border wall.
When asked if the increase in enforcement should instead mean an increase in apprehensions, he said it is possible that people wanting to cross in Arizona are deterred.
"We like to think that illegal immigration is getting tougher in Arizona and that's why we're seeing a push out to Texas," Adame said.