Mexico migrants use bycycles to cross Arizona desert

Picture: by Reuters (a bike with special frames to carry bundles of marijuana !?)

Article:

Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:31 PM ET

THREE POINTS, Arizona (Reuters) – Illegal immigrants and drug traffickers are using dilapidated bicycles to make a swift, night-time dash over the desert to Arizona from Mexico, border police say.

Border Patrol agents in the desert state are finding dozens of the bikes dumped at hamlets such as Three Points, southwest of Tucson, which are used as staging areas by smugglers ferrying marijuana and immigrants on to cities inland.

“The illegals use bicycles, either riding them on ranch roads or the foot trails themselves, as a quicker means of getting north,” said Border Patrol agent Kevin Nutwell as he inspected a rusty bike discarded on one lonely trail south of Three Points.

Agents say it takes up to three days to walk the 45-mile (72-km) trail from the border to Three Points, where immigrants are picked up for an onward journey to Tucson and Phoenix either by truck or packed into cars.

Stealthy cyclists who make the trip in groups of up to 10 people led by a guide or “coyote” can make the trip in just a few hours.

Reuters saw two bicycles dumped on ranch trails outside Three Points, one a 10-speed mountain bike, the other a rusted Chinese model with fat tires and wing handlebars.

The bikes have no amenities like brakes and they sometimes are lucky to have a seat on them,” Nutwell said.

“They spray paint the bikes flat-black and remove reflectors so that it is easier to travel at night undetected,” he added.

Southern Arizona is the most heavily transited area along the porous 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S. border with Mexico.

Last year the cactus-studded corridor south of Tucson was used by more than a third of the 1.2 million illegal immigrants caught crossing the international line.

Nutwell said agents also found bicycles that had been rigged with special frames to carry bundles of marijuana along the back roads that crisscross the lonely stretch of desert.

“It’s just one of the ingenious forms of smuggling that we come across; there’s no end to it.”

Another article:

Here is the kicker, the Reuter’s reporter interviewed a border patrol agent (Agent Nutwell) who says:

Nutwell said agents also found bicycles that had been rigged with special frames to carry bundles of marijuana along the back roads that crisscross the lonely stretch of desert. “It’s just one of the ingenious forms of smuggling that we come across; there’s no end to it.”

I have to tell you that I have first hand knowledge and experience living and working on a good portion of the California-Mexico border which I don’t think is any more special than the Arizona-Mexico border and I have to say that bicycles are NOT a new mode of transportation. They are cheaper than cars and if you get a flat you can just dump it. Big whoop.
There is also this little nugget that just cracks me up:

Nutwell said agents also found bicycles that had been rigged with special frames to carry bundles of marijuana along the back roads that crisscross the lonely stretch of desert.

I have no doubt that there are drug smugglers using bikes to transport drugs but I can’t imagine there being many. I have also seen some of these bicycles with special frames (Special Frames = Wires holding crates together on the bike) and I hate to break it to them but the one thing you need in the desert is water and the immigrant knows this better than anyone. The bikes make it easier to carry water and food.

Another article:

Illegal immigrants racing across border on bicycles

by Gene Bisbee at 04:00AM (PDT) on August 25, 2006  |  Permanent Link Cosmos

Border Patrol agents call it el Tour de Los Estados Unidos. The winners of this Tour gain illegal entry into the US from Mexico on bicycles they use to cross the border.

The rundown bikes cost $20 to $25 each. They run the gamut from mountain bikes to Chinese models with wing handlebars. The reflectors are removed; one bike was painted camouflage green, while others are spray painted black.

The immigrants ride the bikes at night on hiking trails or unused desert roads. The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, right, is a favorite route.

“Usually you hear what sounds like off-road truck tires coming toward you down the road ‘cuz there’s so many of them” Border Patrol spokesman Sean King told KVOA-TV in Tucson. Usually groups of 8 to 10 ride together, although he’s seen as many as 30.

On foot, it takes persons crossing over from Mexico about three days to make the trip to Three Points, a staging area for smugglers south of Tucson, according to Reuters. On a bicycle, the trip can be made overnight.

The Border Patrol seems to be responding, however. The Border Patrol website says it “even employs horses, all-terrain motorcycles, bicycles, and snowmobiles.”

In its 2002 article “Death in the Desert,” the National Catholic Reporter described a bicycle found and displayed by volunteers for Humane Borders, a group that sets up water stations for migrants in the desert so they don’t succumb to the heat.

“The exhibit also holds a stroller and a Caribou bicycle, its tire tubes all shot to hell, punctured by cactus needles, on the trek through impossible terrain.”


In this 2000 photo provided by the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, abandoned bikes with plastic water bottles are seen on a park trail in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the border in Arizona. The aid group Humane Borders estimates that a hundred or so bikes that appear to have been used by migrants turn up in the Arizona desert each month. One Mexican official said whole packs of bicycle-mounted migrants have passed by his office, heading to the border. (AP Photo/Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument)
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