Roughly 8 out of 10 people busted in the sector between 2005 and 2011 were Americans caught at a checkpoint, according to data obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting. A small fraction of those busts are referred to federal agencies for further investigation and possible prosecution. At the Sierra Blanca station, 88 percent of the seizures – mostly marijuana – were traffic stops for amounts below drug trafficking thresholds.
Nationwide, 3 out of 4 people the U.S. Border Patrol catches with drugs are U.S. citizens. Eric Olson, associate director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., estimates that U.S. law enforcement seizes less than 10 percent of drugs that are smuggled into the country.