EL PASO, Texas -- As breaches to the U.S.-Mexico border wall in the El Paso sector hit 714 so far in the 2021 fiscal year, the U.S. Border Patrol is partnering with the Mexican government to launch a ‘fence cutter initiative’ in effort to try and stop the damage.
The joint initiative calls for those illegally crossing to be prosecuted in either country.
Once caught and arrested, U.S. agents will file a formal complaint with images of the damage and the estimated cost of repair of the International Border Wall System.
Cutting tools, grinders, and acetylene torches are the common tools currently used by smugglers to breach the border barrier, officials said, and repairs to the wall can range in cost from $300 to $400 depending on the type of barrier and distance of the location.
Ciudad Juarez police officers along with U.S. border agents will be conducting joint patrols on either side of the fence to limit illegal smuggling attempts.
“The 'fence cutter initiative' is just another example of our strong collaborative bi-national efforts holding criminals accountable for their lawlessness that exploits migrants, Mexican nationals, and Americans alike,” said the Border Patrol's El Paso Sector Chief Gloria Chavez.
Victor Manjarrez, a retired Border Patrol chief told ABC-7 that doing mirrored patrols not only reduces wall breaches but also mitigates other types of crimes that exploit people who cross.
He said this is not the first time the border fence has seen this kind of damage. He told ABC-7 that no matter the material the wall is made from, people always seem to cut through - and go to great lengths to cover the holes made.
“It's to the point where you see that they cut the fence, use (the hole), put that piece (of fence) back in and spray paint it like a rust color to make it look part of the fence,” he explained.
Manjarrez added that these breaches are more common in the Sunland Park and Ysleta regions.
“And it makes sense because once you make a breach there, it's a dash into hiding,” he said.
Officials said any suspicious activity along the border fence can be reported to Border Patrol, while staying anonymous, by calling 1-800-635-2509.