Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BLM Arizona reports on its fourth law enforcement and resource protection surge

Two-week BLM operation yields 7.5 tons of trash, nearly 4,000 pounds of marijuana seized, 233 illegal immigrants and eight U.S. citizens arrested in Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert National Monuments
As part of its continuing battle to protect public lands from illegal border-related activities, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Arizona has completed its fourth law enforcement and resource protection surge since October.
Here are some statistics from the two-week focused operation in the Ironwood Forest and the Sonoran Desert National Monuments:
·        7.5 tons of trash collected in the Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert National Monuments.
·        228 law enforcement events
·        3,976 pounds of marijuana seized in 13 different incidents
·        233 suspected undocumented immigrants arrested
·        8 U.S. citizens arrested
The two-week surges bring additional BLM law enforcement rangers to the national monuments. Both monuments, among the most beautiful lands in southern and central Arizona, are used by smugglers of drugs and humans to get to Interstate 8.
The surges are part of a coordinated, focused effort called Operation ROAM (Reclaim Our Arizona Monuments). Under Operation ROAM, the BLM looks at areas in the monuments where the needs are greatest and where law enforcement surges can have the greatest effects.
Under Operation ROAM, cleanup and resource rehabilitation operations are done during the law enforcement surges. Additional manpower means a ranger can be on hand for security. Crews composed of BLM fire personnel and youth employees of the Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) are mobilized to maximize the cleanup time during the surge.
Melinda Mahoney, a BLM park ranger who does much of her work in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, had a hand in nearly all the trash cleanup. She managed BLM fire crews and the contracted crews from the SCC; together they removed 275 bags of trash. 

Mahoney said the cleanup crews find all kinds of things. “We’ve found everything from toothbrushes to underwear to … you name it,” she said.
One of her crew members found what appeared to be a 40-pound bale of marijuana. Another found an automatic rifle, along with loaded magazine clips.
Cellphones are a common find.
Those kinds of things are turned over to investigators who check them for intelligence data.
Much of the trash came from areas near Interstate 8. One of the areas where Mahoney’s crews worked had been cleaned about a year ago. This year, they gathered 120 bags of trash, most of it new stuff, Mahoney said.
That’s an indication that while strides are being made, the fight is ongoing.
Another law enforcement surge in the monuments is now underway. Two more are planned before hot weather forces a sharp decline in illegal activities.
Still, Mahoney is optimistic. “I think we’re making a difference. We’re hearing from the rangers, especially those that are returning from last year, that it looks a lot cleaner,” she said.
Here are some results of the recently completed surge and the overall totals:
Surge 4
Current fiscal year
Pounds of trash collected
Bags of trash collected
Law enforcement events
Marijuana seizures
Pounds of marijuana seized
Undocumented arrests
U.S. citizen arrests
Vehicles seized
Human remains discovered
Firearms seized
Updated Operation ROAM statistics are available at
A running log of serious incident reports from BLM rangers is available at

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