All-terrain vehicles prove to be significant resource for Border Patrol


POSTED: Friday, August 1, 2014 - 4:10pm

UPDATED: Monday, August 4, 2014 - 1:08pm

With more than 300 river miles in the RGV Sector to patrol, the mission to secure the U.S. border is no simple task for Border Patrol agents.

The rugged terrain along the river enhances the challenge, which is why the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) units play a vital role for agents patrolling the area.

"With an ATV you can go through brush, go around obstacles and trees, things like that," explained Alfredo Galvan, one of the agents trained to use the Border Patrol ATVs. "So it helps us get a little bit closer to the traffic as compared to a unit."

Smugglers often play a game of cat and mouse with Border Patrol agents when sending immigrants across the river.

Not all people crossing illegally want to be caught by agents, so they keep a lookout for the white Border Patrol vehicles--but the ATVs are much harder to detect in the brush.

"We can sneak into areas underneath trees, things like that were they're looking for a unit, a white vehicle, and they're not expecting us," said Galvan.  "A lot of times they come straight up to us unknowing that we're there waiting for them."

Right now in the summer the ground is very dry and dusty, but it won't stay that way. Once the rainy season hits within the next couple of months, that dirt will turn into mud, making it very difficult for Border Patrol units to make their way around the area.

That's where the ATVs come in.

More than half of the region in McAllen that Border Patrol secures is comprised of off-road terrain.

"65 percent of the area we patrol is refuge land," said Joe Gutierrez Jr., Border Patrol spokesperson.  "So it makes it very difficult and very challenging for us to get some of these groups that are in distress or need help.

It's lucky that we have the ATV units--ATV units can go off road and they shorten down our response times to get to these immigrants."

The ATVs can travel as fast as 65 mph. While they don't often utilize that full speed, the quickness does come into play when getting to suspected immigrants who are caught in the extreme heat.


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