REGION — Arrests of Central American families attempting to cross the border in the Tucson Sector skyrocketed in fiscal year 2019, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

The federal agency is calling the year “unprecedented” saying that more individuals — people traveling solo — attempted to slip into the U.S. via the Tucson Sector, as did more unaccompanied children.

According to statistics released Wednesday, fiscal year 2019 — from Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019 — saw a 227 percent jump in the arrests of families crossing the border in the Tucson Sector, as compared to fiscal year 2018. That represented 16,199 people who entered in family groups, Border Patrol officials said.

Border Patrol officials said the highest concentration of families flowed in through ports of entry in Lukeville and near Douglas.

Additionally, Border Patrol agents saw a two percent increase in the influx of unaccompanied children between the ages of infant and 17, this fiscal year compared to last fiscal year. That translated into 5,105 youngsters crossing the border alone, Border Patrol officials said.

Apprehensions of adults traveling alone increased by 22 percent, or 63,490 individuals, compared to last fiscal year.

The one positive, agents said Thursday, is a plunge in seizures of marijuana at the border in the Tucson Sector.

This fiscal year saw the seizure of 59,000 pounds of marijuana, compared to 134,084 pounds in fiscal year 2018.

A spokesman at the U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector office said Thursday that there is no real explanation for the plunge in marijuana seizures, except that marijuana is down and the seizures of “hard narcotics” such as fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine have risen not just in the Tucson Sector, but in other sectors across Arizona. The Tucson Sector includes Cochise County.

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