Being among the top three cocaine corridors in the country is a distinction the Imperial Valley could live without.
But it should come as no surprise. With its wide-open spaces and proximity to a large Mexican city that serves as a major drug hub, it is not exactly shocking that federal drug enforcement agents say Imperial County is among the top three points of entry for illegal drugs coming into this country.
Our Valley also is a main entry point for illegal immigration.
So we should be more than grateful that Imperial County will be getting $2.9 million from a federal program called Operation Stonegarden, money that will allow for beefed-up patrols and increased security around the border. Operation Stonegarden will increase uniformed manpower and enhance cooperation among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
County officials agreed to participate in the program this week.
The Calexico, El Centro and Imperial police departments will be among local agencies getting funding for participating in Operation Stonegarden. The two California Highway Patrol offices in Imperial County also will receive money from the program.
Some Valley residents believe the impact of drug trafficking and illegal immigration on Imperial County is relatively minor, as most drugs and illegal immigrants are thought to be here only a short time before heading elsewhere.
The people who live near the border in Calexico would disagree vehemently. Their lives are constantly disrupted by illegal immigrants and those chasing the undocumented.
Being a major drug corridor affects other residents, too. Heavily armed drug dealers regularly pass through our Valley, and drug cartels use local homes as stash houses. Don’t think those stash houses are just in bad parts of local towns, as the last two local huge busts of such houses have been in what most would consider “nice” neighborhoods of El Centro and Imperial.
Combine a safer community, hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries and services coming into our area with the fact we will have more law enforcement officers — who tend to be great neighbors and fine community members — residing here, and Operation Stonegarden should bring nothing but good to the Imperial Valley.
Good all around.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Send us your thoughts on this topic to www.ivpressonline.com/letterstotheeditor