Over time that's just grown," said Raymond L. Vinsik, director of the Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federal intelligence and anti-drug coordinating center known as HIDTA.
Traffickers working here spend money like anyone else - on business and personal costs such as housing, vehicles and food.They earn that money by marking up the price of each marijuana load to cover expenses and make a profit.
"When they meet," said Vinsik
supervisor at Arizona HIDTA, "they want to meet at fancy hotels and have fancy dinners and negotiate their deals."
"Our job is to make people want to work together, and the carrot, of course, is the money," Vinsik
Another little-known agency is the U.S. Customs Service Air Branch, the largest operation of its kind in the country and based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.It helps track smugglers on the ground along the border, conducts surveillance above Tucson and pursues suspicious cross-border flights, even across state lines.
Customs has 80 employees at the Tucson air branch, 60 of them pilots.Another 70 aircraft mechanics, employees of private contractors such as Raytheon
, work at the air branch repairing Blackhawk helicopters and other aircraft.