Mexican smuggling gangs have repeatedly sawed through new sections of President Trump’s border wall with commonly available power tools and have created large enough openings for people and drugs to pass through, The Washington Post reports.
U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage told The Post that the gaps have been opened by using a popular cordless reciprocating saw that can be purchased at hardware stores for as little as $100. When fitted with specialized blades, the tool can cut through one of the wall’s steel-and-concrete bollards in minutes.
Engineers told the newspaper that smugglers can push the steel out of the way after cutting through the base of a single bollard and that the height of the bollard makes it easier to push aside after the cut has been made.
Nearly a dozen agents and current and former administration officials said crews have adopted other methods of breaching the wall, including building makeshift ladders, particularly in popular border crossing areas in and around San Diego.
Some of the breaches have reportedly occurred in areas that have not yet been installed with electronic sensors that would be able to swiftly detect vibrations from tools such as saws on the bollards.
The government has not previously discussed the breaches and it was not immediately clear how many times the smuggling crews have breached the wall. A senior administration official told The Post that they counted “a few instances” and maintained that the new fencing has “significantly increased security and deterrence” along sections of the border in the San Diego and El Centro areas in California.
The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.
The border wall was a chief campaign promise of Trump during his campaign in 2016 and continues to be a staple of his 2020 reelection bid as he works to cast his policies as a bulwark against unchecked illegal border crossings.
However, the number of unauthorized border crossings still reached nearly 1 million in the 2019 fiscal year.