EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Border Patrol agents have many tools to assist them in their mission to secure the southern border.
One of those tools just happens to be “man’s best friend” — the K-9 Unit — which they say has helped the agency to stop both illegal drugs and human smugglers from getting into the interior of the country.
Agent Kevin Carillo, K-9 supervisor for the Deming Station in the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector, said that the dogs are a vital part of the agency’s operations.
“They allow the agents to detect different situations where it would be harder without the K-9 to detect,” Carillo said. “A lot of the times the smuggling organization will put people in very dangerous situations in the attempt to smuggle them into the country and the K-9s are a vital tool in being able to detect those people, and in return, oftentimes save lives of the individuals being smuggled.”
Carillo said that K-9’s have found migrants locked in vehicles, in the trunks of cars and even out in the desert suffering from the elements.
“Whether it be in the field, out in the desert or at the checkpoints, their primary function is to detect concealed humans,” he said
In Fiscal Year 2021, K-9s in the El Paso Sector alone detected:
- Total Encounters- 11,000 – concealed humans
- Total value of narcotics seized- $106,669,000.00
- Total amount of cash seized- $729,000.00
In order to be able to perform at such a high level, Carillo said, the K-9s and their handlers go through extensive training.
“The dogs are trained to detect the odors that we train them to which are concealed humans, marijuana, cocaine heroin, meth and ecstasy,” Carillo continued. “They’re trained for a total of 12 weeks and after the fifth week they match up with handlers where they train as a team for another 6 weeks.”
Carillo brought in an expert K-9 unit to demonstrate how the dogs and the handler train and work together, explaining the process as it was taking place.
“This is a 3-year-old Border Patrol canine. What the K-9 handler is going to do is a search pattern that saves energy for the canine. It is a pattern that allows the K-9 to cover a majority of the area of the vehicle without using a whole lot of energy. These dogs in the field will be working multiple hours so we try to save that energy as much as we can.”
We were able to witness the exact moment – in the demonstration — when the K-9 alerted his handler to something located in the gas tank of the truck.
“Now the handler will give the K-9 the reward, he found what he was looking for, it was located in the gas tank. That’s what they find everything that we need them to find for, is to get that reward … they love to play, they love to hang out. That’s their reward. It’s like their paycheck.”Agent Kevin Carillo, K-9 Supervisor for Border Patrol, Deming Station
Carillo told KTSM that Border Patrol agents take very good care of their dogs, making sure their every need is taken care of care when it comes to food, medical and comfort, adding that safety for the dogs is their top priority.
“The vehicles that they are transported in [are] equipped in the back seat with a kennel that’s specially designed for the K-9 dogs. It’s equipped with a temperature gauge that when the vehicle reaches a certain temperature an alarm will go off, the window will roll down and a fan will start up to cool the dogs down. We definitely take care of our dogs. They are part of our family, we want to give them the best care we can.”