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Arizona Dispatch: A Trip to the Border

NOGALES, Ariz. | To everyone here, the border represents something different: a barrier to a better life, a reminder of harder times, childhood, a separation of family, access to cheaper goods, a gateway for the drug trade, security from rampant crime and so on. For Det. Jose Estrada of the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office, it represents a job.

Estrada was born and raised in Nogales. He’s been in law enforcement for 18 years and estimates he’s personally apprehended 500 illegal immigrants crossing over from Nogales’ sister city in Mexico: Nogales, Sonora.

In downtown Nogales, Ariz., hundreds of Mexicans cross the border legally each day, coming to the United States to buy goods and visit family and friends — the kinds of routine trips we all do everyday.

But outside the city and in the rural county areas, the fence is 30 feet high and five feet deep. In others stretches, there is no fence; just barbed wire and barren, hot, dry and expansive landscape. It’s in these places where drugs and humans are trafficked, where bodies are found, and firefights and sniper shootings occur with increasing regularity. That’s where Estrada took us earlier this week:

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