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Hidalgo County Herald
Lordsburg, New Mexico
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January 27, 2012     Hidalgo County Herald
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10 HIDALGO COUNTY HERALD FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2012 Border area kids get "Operation Detour" education from US Border Patrol By DAWN NEWMAN-AERTSI Rodeo Douglas Border Patrol agent and supervisor, Ryan Holden, has spent seven of the past 10 years of service with a horseback unit - trying to prevent narco-terror- ism, drugs, and illegal activity from crossing into the U.S. com- munity. Today, Holden is one of many Arizona Border agents, who have turned their attention to sup- porting the town, its' citizens, and doing its part for law enforcement and security. In Operation !, tour, a 10ng-standing 'outreach pro= gram' designed by law enforce- ment for kids, he hopes to keep kids from falling prey to illegal activity and unnecessary fatal consequences. "Some kids living in border areas, don't know anything dif- ferent," says Holden of drug ac- tivity and the presentation given to students (in grades 6 th through 10  throughout Arizona.) "Some have seen and been around drugs in school, and in homes for their whole life. So the actual distri- bution and storing of drugs is common practice...they just don't known anything different." While Operation Detour is offered to students from all back- grounds - it is meant for vulner- able kids that could be led into a life of drug sales, distribution and delivery by friends, relatives, or by their own parents. "What we are trying to do, is to bring the issue into the classroom, bring it to their attention, so they can under- stand this isn't a normal situation to be in, - and then, to look at the real conse- quences of drug- trafficking." H01den says the lucky ones may face a future arrest, or criminal record, but the price of admis- sion into this un- derworld can cost lives too.' Opera- tion Detour in- cludes informa- tion about the na- ing this in their own homes. So we have to break the cycle, if we can." During a recent Douglas middle andhigh school talk, Holden admits that the class in- ing to drive, pick up, or deliver drug cargo, "So this money sounds like a huge sum for many young people - especially those who live on limited incomes or fam- sion, but there is a much brighte r spotlight on the issues we face today." While Operation Detour was first developed and presented to students in Del Rio, says it has since been brought to schools and classrooms in States from Califor- nia, Arizona and New Mexico, through Texas. While part of the presentation focuses on ways to avoid, and rec- ognize recruitment methods, it also takes a hard look at potential consequences - every- thing from arrest and criminal history to what other kids have experi, enced at the hands of drug-smugglers who re, cruit them for service. "They may do this ini- tially as a way to make some easy money, (tb ture and world of buy new clothes, shoes narco-drug terror- - ': or the newest ipodi - but ism or trafficking, = once they start, they re- what to look for in Local kids are given ways andwarningS to avoid recruitment and participation in illegal drug ally aren't given a way recruitment meth- trafficking and transporting activity in border towns. Douglas, Ariz., is one of many South- out." otis and how to ef- western communities (across California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico) who have re- According to fectively avoid quested Operation Detour presentations (by CBP) for kids who need alternatives, good Ho]den, recruitment is becoming part of choices, and outreach information for community-based deterrence, designed to pull kids the violence data, "Unfortu- nately, some kids are used to see- *VOTE for* *: MA.NUEL D.V. SAU00EDO Position 1 City Council WORKING TOGETHER with our Mayor, the CityCouncil serves to promote the best interests of Lordsburg. Our City faces many important Challenges. I believe I am qualified to help in addressing :these challenges.' I respectfully request YOUR V()TE to serve as YI)UR voice on the City Council. I PROMISE TO CONTINUE TO WORK THF r INTERESTS OV OUR HOMETOWN VOTE for Manuel D.V. SAUCEDO for re-electi0n to Position 1 Lordsburg City Council formation gets mixed reviews from students in the audience. "We don't have that many kids raise their hands (in the last ques- tion/comment segment), we don't hear many actual observations one way or the other - But we do know that recruitment of kids for drug hauling and delivery hap- pens with regularity in border towns and beyond." Though Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have no hard data that can be directly linked to bor- der-based towns, every agency under Homeland Security has dealt with the activity and is aware of the narco-recruitinent of teens' by friends in school and even by relatives at home. "What we have to do is to let these kids know they have options. They do have choices and there are people that will listen to them if they are approached by drug traf- tickers or criminal elements." : Holden believes that young people may initially be recruited by a cash bonus of anywhere from $ 100 to $1,000 dollars for agree- ..... iy resources. I've personally caught juveniles with delivery packages of :drugs:.. adds Holden, "Now exactly how com- mon this recruitment is, we just don't know. But we absolutely know it happens and that teenag- ers are involved." Part of the CBP mission is to deter illegal entries, prevent ter- rorism, and to maintain a high profile presence in the commu- nity of Douglas. "Our mission is to Teduce the 'clutter' which means to reduce ill'egal migrant activity, criminal activity and drug involvement," he says of the role. The 'high profile' presence we have also includes reaching out to kids and families with tar- geted deterrence, and education." Holden points out that he can easily see Mexico from his own front yard, and it's that proximity to drugs, to sales and activity that has moved his agency into the spotlight. "There really wasn't much attention given to CBP or other agencies in past years - people knew of the mis- into the narco-drug world perma- nently. "We know (kids) come from all over, that they generally pick up their drugs from border towns and then drive the drugs to all points on the map." Holden says kids are particularly vulner- able (they aren't employed, they have the vehicle to use, and don't generally have any criminal record). "They need to think about this as serious business - in fact, it can lead to assault, vio- lence and death." If parents request crime, data, students may also be shown evi- dence and record of torture, death and destruction documented throughout Mexico. "These are troubling, disturbing images - of how people, and kids have been punished by drug-lords and traffickers over the years. . :When kids see these images, they react, they respond - they can truly see how 'one little act' can lead to people dying. They have to look at the big picture and what's at Stake." Ho!de n, and othe r agents who present "Operation Detour" to kids are not about to 'sugar- coat' the issues involved. "We're going to tell them the truth, how it is, and what the outcomes are When you serve criminal ele- ments. He points out that there are all kinds of associated activ- ity - everything from kidnapping (common in Phoenix, Ariz.) to. domestic abuse, assaults, burglar- ies, rapes and auto theft." What we're trying to do, says Holden, is to work with other civic organizations, with schools; counselors and parents, to 'give kids a way out' and to escape re- cruitment by older adults in their lives. "They start to think this (ac- tivity) is all normal - so we've got to try and break the cycle." Holden stresses that "Opera- tion Detour" is not used as an operational tool to detect issues within the family. "We're simply there to tell them the truth -- 'it's about you!" He believes the pro- gram is an opportunity for kids to come forward, to get help, to avoid the traps. "I tell them, somebody here is going to be a Mayor one day -- a doctor, a teacher, maybe go to congress or open their own business. We let them know there are adults in their lives who will listen, who will help." March 6th DANA M. IARREDONDOI Lordsburg City Council Position 2 Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully, Dana M. 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