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Behind the scenes at the Mariposa Port of Entry

Photo: Image by Journal Broadcast Group

Behind the scenes at the Mariposa Port of Entry

CREATED May 11, 2012

Reporter: Steve Nuñez

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - In Nogales, the border city's economy almost exclusively depends on the flow of free trade that comes across the Mexico border. However, the Mariposa Port of Entry also remains a constant route for Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs, money and guns in and out of the United States.

9 On Your Side recently got a rare look behind the scenes to show you how the Department of Homeland Security is answering the call to balance economic growth with tightened security.

On any given day, 5,000 vehicles and 1,300 big rigs cross into the U.S. From Mexico.

Last year alone, $17 billion in fresh produce came through the Nogales border.

Yet, Arizona's free flow of trade is constantly being threatened by drug cartels.

Eloy Cortez, Assistant Port Director, said this game of cat and mouse is played every single minute of every single day.

"It's difficult," said Cortez. "In many cases you're looking for an agricultural product within an agricultural product that being marijuana in a load of tomatoes."

9 On Your Side takes you behind the scenes for a look at the delicate balance between economic growth and tightened security at the Mariposa Port of Entry tonight at 10:00.