Border security: Cochise County Sheriff announces Operation Safe Streets II

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is taking drastic measures to crack down on human smuggling.

With the help of other public safety organizations, CCSO is launching an operation called "Safe Streets II." Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels announced the operation on Oct. 24, sharing law enforcement from across the state to combat human smuggling and other border related crimes.

"The criminal cartels across the border upped their game, upped their operational plan," said Sheriff Dannels. "Well, guess what? So are we."

According to Sheriff Dannels, the cartels are recruiting drivers as young as 13 years old to pick up and drive migrants from the border to other parts of the state, all for just a quick buck.

Sheriff Dannels said these American drivers are told to evade law enforcement at any cost, creating a huge risk to the lives and safety of deputies, citizens, and the migrants they transport.

"A couple of weeks ago, you saw deputies – one from Tombstone Marshall’s Office, two from my office – that were injured," said Sheriff Dannels. "One's still in the hospital, learning how to walk again. I made the comment back then that enough was enough. Those are cheap words. They are cheap unless I can put some action behind them."

The new multi-agency taskforce will focus on Cochise County highways, with a goal of stepping up their current tactics by borrowing other agencies' deputies and officers to help patrol.

"We must deal with this crisis the very best that we can, and that is by sticking together," said Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes, who is also the President of the Arizona Sheriff's Association.

"This has been a long lingering issue," said Jeffrey Glover with DPS. "Drugs, human trafficking, it has to be addressed, and the people that are involved in this need to be brought to justice,."

To put things into perspective, September marked the end of the 2023 Fiscal Year, during which the U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered a total of 2.48 million migrants on the Southwest Border, an agency record.

Meanwhile, in the month of September alone, the Tucson Sector had the most encounters out of anywhere, topping 50,000 people.

"The Arizona Sheriffs Association worked with the Arizona Legislature and the Governor's Office to secure local border security funding in this year's budget cycle," said Sheriff Rhodes. "This year's legislative term, $12.3 million was directed towards Arizona DPS to be disseminated to local law enforcement agencies, and local sheriff's departments specifically for these type of operations."

According to Sheriff Dannels, this is only the beginning, as they will continue to push the Federal government for more resources and funding.