Strange Images

June 25, 2009

Nogales processes almost as many arrivals as LAX and JFK airports combined. On a busy day, 20,000 people and 1600 trucks pass through the port. During the winter months, more than 60 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States come through Nogales.

Bersin did a fast grip and grin with alert Customs and Border Patrol agent Glady McNamara, who fortuitously had snagged two smugglers attempting a “body carry” that very morning. One was a 14-year-old girl. A new trend by smugglers is use children to mule small loads. The two were carrying a half kilo of heroin each. Both were Americans. Nice job, Bersin said, as McNamara was given the traditional reward for a good catch — a couple of gift certificates to Applebees.

To me, these are the kinds of stories that make the dynamics of the border so fascinating, these incongruent elements existing in the same tiny sphere: a diplomat gladhanding, a 14-year-old girl on foot with a half kilo of heroin, one of the most crowded highways in the world, 60% of the vegetables the U.S. consumes, and a couple of gift certificates to Applebees.

From the great trip along the border Travis Fox and William Booth took for the Washington Post.

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