SALTON CITY, Calif. (Border Report) — Don’t let the size of the Border Patrol’s Salton City checkpoint fool you.
When it comes to vehicle traffic, it’s relatively small, but when it comes to drug seizures, it’s huge.
“Since October of last year, we’ve seized a little over 1,900 pounds of methamphetamine,” said Border Patrol Agent John Mendoza. “Number two is fentanyl; we have seized 164 pounds, which is a significant increase of 180 percent compared to last year.”
Border Patrol officials say that on a yearly basis, about 2 million commercial trucks, cars and agricultural vehicles go through the checkpoint, which is not a lot when compared to other facilities of its kind.
Yet, more and more drugs are making their way to this remote checkpoint.
“Agents and K-9 units are trained to detect hidden human beings, illegal narcotics and U.S. currency,” Mendoza said.
The Salton City checkpoint sits on the western edge of the Salton Sea on Highway 86, between California’s Imperial Valley to the south and Palm Springs to the north.
Mendoza said the area’s desolate location is considered a shortcut to Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas, and that’s why smugglers take a chance going through the checkpoint.
“If you travel north of the checkpoint it will eventually merge to Interstate 10, it spans about 2,400 miles connecting areas such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, El Paso and Las Cruces … you can see it’s critical infrastructure for a lot of people involved in illicit activities.”
Mendoza says the tiny checkpoint is open year-round except during inclement weather, and that agents are also seizing large amounts of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.