A U.S. Border patrol spokesperson says three people were arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border after a smuggling incident on horseback in mid-March. One was a U.S. citizen, one was a Mexican national with proper documentation and the third was an undocumented immigrant being smuggled into the country illegally.
Border Patrol says there has not been a marked increase in smuggling events involving horses, but the incident did prompt the agency to reach out to the local equestrian community to be aware of what happened, and ask them to help out if they ever see anything suspicious.
Vicki Krauss is the president of the Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association. During a meeting involving local groups last month, she learned about the recent horseback smuggling arrests.
“He wanted us to know and to get it out to our membership that they might be scrutinized more closely if they’re going for a trail ride on their horse and stopped and asked some questions,” said Krauss. “Neither party, border patrol or us, wanted that to cause any misunderstandings or misconstruing, feeling scared or feeling persecuted. So we sent out a mass email to tell everyone what was going on down here.”
Krauss wrote and sent that email message to members of the Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association to tell them about the recent arrests.
“I didn’t anyone want to be scared or angry, because they felt they were being unjustly stopped or questioned. Because that hasn’t been the status quo. Normally, they just put right by you in their quads or cars and not even look twice. But now they will be because of this incident.”
Border Patrol says smuggling by horseback is not a new tactic. Still, locals in the Tijuana River Valley say they’re surprised about the recent arrests.
“I’m out here five, six days a week, all day and I’ve never seen it,” said Sarah Crane, who takes customers on horseback tours to the beach.
Jessica Winne owns San Diego Beach Rides, which takes guests on tours through local paths and to the beach.
“I’ve heard stories from some of the locals that have lived here that yeah, that has been something that used to happen in the past before the fence was up all the way, but personally I’ve never experienced anything like that, but that’s not to say it could happen,” said Winne.
During the 2013 fiscal year, Border Patrol made 27,496 arrests in San Diego. The U.S. Border Patrol wants the public to know that if they see any suspicious activity, or even something that seems out-of-the-ordinary, they can contact U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector at (619)498-9900.