Category Archives: US-Mexican Border

Seven Hour Border Wait

by staff Traffic Editor Quincy Quiebra 

My all time record is a 3 hour wait at TJ/San Ysidro many years ago when guests needed to be back in San Diego on a Sunday evening.  As most people need to be back at work on a Monday, they often ask “What is the best routing to cross the border northbound on a Sunday?”.  The answer is “pick another day”.

Otay Mesa likely won’t provide much relief for a Sunday crossing.  And so many use the Tecate “trick” that it is not much of a Sunday option.

Crossing from Mexico into the U.S. on a Sunday, Monday morning or a Monday holiday is going to be quite painful.  Only exception for relief on those days is a SENTRI pass.

Forty minutes in SENTRI?  That is no big deal and happens to me approx 1 in 6 trips.

Hundreds of drivers took more than 7 hours to cross into the United States for the Garita de San Ysidro and Otay, which caused traffic congestion near the bridge of November 20 and Central Truck.

Also, in Plaza Río, at the height of Pueblo Amigo, among other points, where motorists showed their frustration.

Even in the facebook group ‘Como Está la Línea Tijuana’ the users commented that the row for the Ready Lane over passed the bridge of ’20’.

Not even those who use the Sentry were saved from the long wait of more than 40 minutes, they said.

The drivers blamed this road chaos on the migrant caravan that is located in the South of the country, because, exposed in the comments, they are a punishment for the United States.

Other factors for traffic congestion at the crossings were the repairs announced by the Tijuana City Council on the Vía Lenta and Vía Rápida Oriente on the incorporation of Padre Kino and near the General Hospital of Tijuana.


Tijuana Border Construction

by Staff Traffic Editor Quincy Quiebra  

Published the September closure of the Via Rapida Oriente(VRO) on this project that resumes today and this weekend. Though it is only a partial closure, the area is a traffic trap, leading into the border Ready Lane.

Starting at 11:00 am on Friday, October 19, there will be partial closure on the Vía Rápida and Vía Oriente trains, due to the installation of 12 storm drains, necessary to have a system that avoids flooding in this road, with the arrival of the rainy season. The Secretariat of Urban Development and Ecology reported that the closing on Via Lenta Oriente will be at the height of the incorporation to Padre Kino Boulevard, where six storm outlets will be installed, so that the traffic flow will be diverted to the aforementioned boulevard. The other six storm mouths on Vía Rápida Oriente will be installed at the height of the General Hospital, so the detour will be taking advantage of the gace of incorporation towards the Via Lenta. The work will last until the weekend and it is expected to be able to open normal circulation from the morning of Monday 22 October, so it is recommended to take precautions to avoid setbacks.

Border Commuter Program

It is estimated that around 25 thousand Mexicans with a Permanent Resident Card of the United States, commonly known as “Green Card”, live in Tijuana and daily cross to San Diego to work. The “Green Card” allows immigrants to work in the United States but also requires them to reside in that country, so that people with this status who live in Mexico and cross every day to the United States are not complying with the laws of that country. country and may face repercussions such as inadmissibility.

Fortunately, there is the “Commuter” program, a legal option that allows permanent residents to live in Tijuana and work in the United States in a manner 100% authorized by the immigration authorities.

Permanent residents (bearers of a Green Card) have to live in the United States in order for their state to be valid, but many fail to comply.

The “Commuter” program offers the possibility of carrying out this dynamic in a legal manner. By changing the immigration status from “permanent resident” to “permanent resident with frequent flyer status” you can work in the US. Legally while living in Mexico. It can take 6 to 8 months to receive the card that grants the “Commuter” status, which is renewed every 10 years.

Next, everything you need to know about the “Commuter Status”:

“Commuter” card

The “Green Card” for a permanent resident in the “Commuter” state is almost identical to the standard “Green Card”. However, the “Green Card” will have a different code. In front of most of the cards will appear the “C1” for the regular permanent resident and the “C2” for the permanent resident in the “Commuter” status.

How to obtain the “Commuter Status”

  • To qualify as “Commuter,” the person must have regular and stable employment in the United States.
  • Request the change to the Permanent Residency card by completing the I-90 migratory form to reflect the new status of “Commuter” (C2).
  • Deliver payroll vouchers for the last 6 months.
  • Pay a fee of 540 dollars.
  • The card must be picked up at the designated American gate.
  • Deliver Form I-178 to immigration authorities every six months along with evidence of regular employment.

Advantages of being “Commuter”

  • It allows to protect the status of permanent resident without having residence in the United States.
  • Minimize the questions in the booths of
    the sentry boxes
  • Authorizes the “Commuter” to request the SENTRI pass.
  • Allows accumulate employment credits to access Social Security.
  • 40 quarters of employment in the United States.

Disadvantages of being “Commuter”

  • Does not qualify for naturalization (US citizenship).
  • -It does not meet the physical presence requirements.
  • Migrant benefits for relatives can not be requested.
  • If the “Commuter” lacks regular employment for 6 months, he loses the status of Permanent Residence automatically.
    A- Circumstances out of control (example: chronic illness) or
    B- Evidence of 90 cumulative days of employment in the last 12 months.

How to become a Permanent Resident

  • Complete a new I-90 format to replace the “Commuter” card (C2) with a Permanent Resident card (C1).
  • Provide evidence of residency in the United States.
  • Pay a fee of 540 dollars.
  • The new card will be sent to the address in the United States.

Access to Benefits

The status of “Commuter” does not prevent the worker from qualifying for labor benefits available in the United States.

  • Social Security: the place of residence has no effect on obtaining benefits.
  • Driver’s license: The state of California allows immigrants living illegally to apply for a license, so any “Commuter” could apply for it with greater reason.
  • MedicAid: Possible waiting 5 years after getting a “qualified” immigration status. There are exceptions, however, it may not be required because many employers offer health insurance policies.
  • MediCare: by definition this program is not for people who work, but for retirees.
  • MediCal: Permanent residents, whether registered as “Commuters” or not, and residing in Mexico, do not qualify for MediCal because they do not live in California.
  • More than 25 thousand Mexicans live in Tijuana and every day they cross to San Diego to work.

Commuter program success story

Juan Manuel Chagollán, who has been a permanent resident of the United States for 30 years, changed his “Green Card” to one that specifies that he has the status of “traveler”: “Commuter Green Card”. Now, Juan Manuel does about 10 minutes of “line” and always arrives on time at the “Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum” in San Diego, CA., where he has worked as a gardener for 13 years.

Operation Blazing Sands

Just east of border fence construction that has been visited by both the vice president and the homeland security secretary, Border Patrol launched Operation Blazing Sands last month to deter illegal border crossings and thwart human smuggling attempts.

Border Patrol noticed an uptick in smuggling organization activity along a stretch of border in the southeastern-most part of the California desert, according to agent Justin Castrejon. Agents responded in mid-August with Operation Blazing Sands, a collaboration between Border Patrol’s El Centro and Yuma sectors.

“This operation leverages the strengths of El Centro Sector and Yuma Sector to better target transnational criminal organizations,” said Gloria Chavez, chief of the El Centro Sector, after the operation launched.

Agents apprehended 2,427 people illegally crossing that part of the border from October 2017 through July 2018, before the operation began, according to data from the sector. That’s about eight people per day and just over 10 percent of the 23,452 people caught in the entire El Centro Sector during that period.

The sector splits its 70 miles of border among three Border Patrol stations. The 20-mile area where Operation Blazing Sands is focused, known to agents there as the “east desert,” makes up close to 29 percent of that border and is patrolled by agents from the Calexico station.

Calexico station is the fifth busiest along the southwest border, Castrejon said.

About 10 miles outside of the town of Calexico, the landscape turns from farmland to short brush and small mounds of sand. The All American canal runs between Interstate 8 and the border, and the canal’s steep sides and strong currents sometimes trap border crossers who are often already exhausted from their journey through the desert in Mexico.

For many trying to sneak across the border in the El Centro Sector, their goal is Interstate 8, Castrejon explained. If they can make it to a car that’s supposed to pick them up there, they can disappear into traffic before they are detected.

Near the Gordon Wells exit on Interstate 8, the All American Canal curves under the highway, removing the dangerous obstacle from border crossers’ path and allowing the freeway to stretch closer to Mexico. The sand begins to mound higher in this part of the desert though the dunes don’t yet reach the peaks of those further east at Buttercup, a popular dune buggy area.

A Border Patrol camera tower stands near the exit, and agents frequently make “cuts” in the area, checking for footprints where they had dragged the sand smooth earlier in the day.

Just before the canal turns away from Mexico, the border fence changes from 15- to 20-foot bollards used in town to a “floating fence” that was built around 2009. The floating fence has similar bollards, or posts placed close together, that are a few feet shorter, and its base allows agents to prevent sand from mounding into dunes along the fence until it is easy to climb over. If the sand gets too high, the fence can be lifted and set down again on top.

Despite the heat and the sand that drags and slides underfoot, the area around Gordon Wells has become a popular place to cross, Castrejon said.

He and fellow agent Jose Enriquez, their eyes habitually scanning for signs of crossings, were quick to point out footprints on the Mexican side of the fence and a piece of rope tied between bollards to act as a ladder. Sun-blanched water bottles were scattered on the ground around the fence.

Castrejon said when he was patrolling in the east desert about a month ago, less than 10 minutes after he checked the area by Gordon Wells, an agent monitoring the camera tower alerted him to a group that had just crossed there.

“As much as we’re watching out for them, they’re watching us,” Castrejon said.

The group made it to a car and headed west on the freeway. Castrejon responded, arresting one U.S. citizen smuggler and four unauthorized immigrants.

When border crossers do make it to the highway, agents can try to pull the car over. If the driver refuses to stop, agents collaborate over radios to monitor where the car goes. In some cases, including for at least one arrest so far during Operation Blazing Sands, agents can deploy a “vehicle immobilization device” that punctures the car’s tires with hollow needles and slowly lets the air out. The gradual deflating helps keep the car’s passengers safer, Castrejon said.

After agents make arrests, they backtrack to the border to look for people that the group might have left behind. Smugglers often abandon people who become sick or injured because they don’t want to slow down the group, Castrejon said.

“Smugglers don’t have any regard for human life,” he said. “All they care about is money.”

Operation Blazing Sands has increased the number of agents operating in the east desert, borrowing from other stations in both sectors, Castrejon said. He was not permitted to say how many agents were involved.

“We’re not going to sit by and let a part of the border not be in our control,” he said.

On a recent morning, several agents in trucks patrolled close to the border and along the highway. A helicopter hovered overhead, waiting if needed.

The operation’s first arrest came two days after the effort began, according to a press release, when an agent spotted five people crossing illegally into the U.S. The group got into a car, and the agent followed and stopped it in Brawley.

Castrejon declined to say how many people the operation has apprehended so far.

According to press releases that cited Blazing Sands, at least 10 people, almost all U.S. citizens, have been charged with human smuggling after being apprehended through the operation. They were transporting 23 people who were not authorized to be in the U.S.

The operation is also intended to prevent migrants from dying in the desert’s extreme heat. Temperatures there can reach 120 during summer days.

Border Patrol agents in the El Centro Sector have found 14 people who died crossing the border so far in fiscal 2018, Castrejon said, and many of those deaths were in the east desert.

“A lot of times, people will get in trouble and underestimate their abilities,” Castrejon said. “The terrain is unforgiving.”

Agents treat many who cross in this area for heat exhaustion, Castrejon said.

Castrejon declined to say how long the operation would last because Border Patrol didn’t want to tip off smugglers.

“It’s going to be in operation for the foreseeable future,” Castrejon said.

Border Patrol also plans to gather intelligence on smuggling organizations in the area as part of the project.

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Bienvenidos a Tijuana

Bajadock: True that the initial image of Tijuana is a bit smelly, scratchy and soiled. But, what would you expect?  Shimmering boutiques such as you would find in Orange County CA?  Careful on that thought.  We reported on the planned “Threshold of the Americas” project in March of 2018.  Photo of the “threshold” spiffy bridge is below.

TIJUANA BC, SEPTEMBER 23, 2018 (AFN) .- The heavy traffic and bad odors coming from sewage are old problems encountered by tourists entering Tijuana, and nowadays there are dozens of indigents and beggars they are on the International avenue welcoming the city.

Taking advantage of the late time that is recorded to enter this road in the direction of Playas de Tijuana, dozens of people on the street offer their services as garbage collectors of motorists, windscreen wipers, roses and even sale of cars.

They are visible to the eyes of citizens, authorities and tourists, they are seen day and night sitting on the sticks, the retaining walls or on the board, whether talking, eating, begging and even injecting, smoking or inhaling some substance.

Some still sympathetic wish a good trip to the drivers who come from the United States to our city, others are careful not to be surprised by any unit of the Municipal Police; they are more than 20 and they are on the canalization, from the North Zone to the River Zone and in spite of the problems that they have caused, the authorities have not intervened.

Wine Pub Tours Baja


Known for serving more than 30 domestic and international wines by the glass alongside an array of appropriately friendly food options, The Wine Pub serves up happy locals seven days a week (with specials on five of the days).

For the past three years, the Point Loma bar/restaurant’s owner Sandy Hanshaw has teamed up with Baja Wine + Food’s Fernando Gaxiola to host sold out tours helping introduce wine enthusiasts to Valle de Guadalupe — the happening winemaking region in Mexico.

The team is now unveiling their latest tour opportunity for locals, an exploration of the exploding craft beer and street food scene in Tijuana and Ensenada. Launching with the first tour on Sept. 22, the tour includes a taco vs. tostada showdown in Tijuana, a stop at Ensenada’s La Guerrerense, which Anthony Bourdain called “the best street cart in the world,” fish tacos at the famous El Fenix, brewery tours and tastings at Cervecería Agua Mala and Wendlandt Cervecería, dinner by the water at Popotla Fisherman’s Village, and finale toasts at Plaza Fiesta’s craft beer garden.

Ahead of the tour, PACIFIC spoke with Hanshaw to find out more about the two tours, wine “virgins” and, of course, what you’ll be drinking.

PACIFIC: How did you hook up with Fernando and Baja Wine + Food?

SANDY HANSHAW: We were both at SommCon here in San Diego three years ago. I had just gone down to the Valle, and absolutely fell in love. I was on a mission to find someone to educate and take people down. (Gaxiola) ran the panel at SommCon, we met, and we’ve been doing this for three years!

What’s something unique that sets your wine tour apart from others?

We always meet with the winemakers and owners, not like typical tastings where you sit or stand in the tasting room. We get the VIP treatment due to Fernando’s relationships — everyone knows him there! You feel like you’ve been taken in by family. On a recent trip, we went down into the wine cave and ate at a family table with the winemaker.

What varietals can folks expect to taste in the Valle?

Nebbiolo is a big grape there, and a few of the winemakers are Italian. Also Grenache and some roses from Grenache. They do cabernet and merlot, also sangiovese, syrah, and mourvedre. Big reds dominate.

You’re making us thirsty. What about food?

We do a family-style dining experience at one of the wineries there. We sit at a big table, and Fernando does the ordering. We have a free for all, from fresh oysters to beautiful heirloom tomatoes, and smoked meats, like lamb or quail. We pair each course with wines.

Favorite Valle memory?

We do an introduction in the van on the way down, and a lot of times we get what we call “virgins” (those who have never been to the Valle) and it’s cool to watch their eyes open. They cannot believe the beauty of the people and the space. It’s raw and rustic; what I imagine Napa or Sonoma 60 years ago. They are blown away.

Ok, let’s talk about the new beer and food tour. What’s the scoop?

It’s run fairly similar to the wine tour. That part comes from my husband’s beer passion; we thought it would be fun and that scene is blowing up down there as well. It’s become especially exciting in the past year. We will be focusing on TJ and Ensenada. My husband has pretty high standards, and everywhere we are going meets his criteria.

How’s the feel different from the wine tour?

We are doing more street food, so it’s a little more rustic, visiting cool street food spots, and having a tacos vs. tostadas taste-off. Each stop will be paired with craft beer.

What do you want people to know who are considering a tour with The Wine Pub?

It’s a unique experience to enjoy time with friends and get to know people on these tours. We create friendships that last beyond the trip. Fernando and I are passionate about this area, and that energy overflows into our day trips.

Wineries visited may include: Villa MontefioreAdobe GuadalupeLomita, and sister winery, Finca La Carrodilla, and Torres Alegre.

To reserve your spot, click here. The Wine Pub makes regular updates on both Instagram and Facebook.

The next major event at The Wine Pub will be a four-course dinner on Nov. 6 with Fernando Pérez Castro, wine producer and owner of Lomita.

2907 Shelter Island Dr. #108, 619.758.9325,

Border Wall Prototypes Fail

by staff Special Weapons And Tactics Editor Bambi Bamboo 


It seems that the prototypes of the border walls are not directly fulfilling what the president of the United States, Donald Trump, was looking for in the beginning, to end the illegal crossing of immigrants.

A recent report from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) details that under scrutiny and evidence that some of the prototypes may be mocked, they would have failed to stop illegal immigration.

The eight prototypes were at Otay Mesa were tested and evaluated for aspects such as gaps, scale, aesthetics, constructability and design, which were in charge of Tactical Teams, CBP experts, the US Special Operations Command, the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command.

The report shows 13 figures labeled as “trespassed”, however it is not known what they are, since the photos were removed from the statement.

In the scenarios that have been able to “violate” these prototypes include equipment that physically penetrates the walls or scenarios of timed climbing. This is why the union representative of CBP, Joshua Wilson, points out that it takes a long time to penetrate the wall as well as highly specialized equipment.

Wilson comments:

 The wall is never going to be everything, but what it is capable of doing is slowing down the illegal traffic that crosses the border and gives the border patrol not only a safer working environment, but it also allows us time to identify and intercept that traffic and deploy appropriate resources to deal with it

Finally, the report confirms that indestructible designs can not be created and that these could only help agents to gain more time before a possible violation of the wall. CBP will identify new features to add to the final design.

Via NBC San Diego

TJ Via Rapida Oriente Closure

by Traffic Editor Quincy Quiebra 

Gadzooks this could be ugly.  This lane closure will choke the usual heavy rush hour traffic here, as it is the approach to the San Ysidro Ready Lane border crossing.  This spot is approx 2 miles south of the border and approx 1/2 mile south of the Cuauhtemoc Bridge.  The Ready Lane approach is often backed up in the mornings to this area on Via Rapida Oriente.  


Tijuana, Baja California, September 16.- The Department of Urban Development and Ecology (SDUE), through the Directorate of Municipal Urban Infrastructure and Works (DOIUM), informs that next Tuesday, September 18, there will be partial closure of the Vía Rapid Oriente and Vía Lenta, from 11:00 a.m.

The owner of SDUE, Everardo Lona Lopez, said that the area of ​​partial closure in this road, will be at the height of Tamayo Street, between the gas station and a car sales agency, where 9 stormholes will be installed and repaired rain discharges that cross the road. “These works are intended to prevent large flooding in that area of ​​the Rapid Route with the arrival of the rains, so we ask for the understanding of citizenship” said the secretary.

He explained that, in order not to affect vehicular traffic, the flow of Via Lenta Oriente will be diverted to Tamayo street, from there they will take Juan Ojeda Robles avenue, which will be turned in a single direction in the direction of Padre Kino Avenue. Likewise, the traffic flow of Vía Rápida Oriente will be diverted to the Via Lenta, about 50 meters ahead of the first closure, taking advantage of the incorporation gauze. The municipal official added that motorists will be able to rejoin both the Slow Way and the Fast Track East at the height of the General Hospital, where the flow of vehicles will be regular.

Finally, Lona Lopez asked motorists who circulate in the area of ​​the works, to drive with caution, and reiterated that by indications Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum, the rain infrastructure works will continue in different parts of the city to avoid damage severe in the roads.

USA Sues Tijuana for Pollution

Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra at Border Field State Park in San Diego in September 2017. Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018 against the federal government to force action on preventing sewage pollution spilling into California from Tijuana. (Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)


California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday night against the Trump administration, alleging that the federal government violated the Clean Water Act by allowing, in recent years, millions of gallons of raw sewage, heavy metals and other contamination to routinely spill from Tijuana into San Diego.

Toxic water pollution from Mexico shuttered San Diego beaches located near the Tijuana River Valley on more than 500 days in the last three years, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit — which specifically targets the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC — paints a picture of a negligent and dismissive federal agency, failing to follow through on its responsibility to address cross-border issues with Mexico.

“While the federal government has invested in other border issues, they haven’t invested in these water-quality issues,” said Dave Gibson, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, which filed the lawsuit jointly with the state Attorney General.

“California taxpayers shouldn’t expect that their money go to fix this when it’s the responsibility of the federal government,” he added.

IBWC and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment for this story, citing the litigation.

In the past, agency officials have said they have little authority over the congressional funding needed to improve the situation.

The state’s lawsuit follows a similar legal strategy launched by elected officials in South Bay San Diego after a spill last year sent hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage flowing down the Tijuana River into the Pacific Ocean, fouling beaches as far north as Coronado.

Following failed talks with IBWC, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego filed a lawsuit against the federal agency in March alleging sweeping violations of Clean Water Act.

The San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation also filed a similar lawsuit in July.

The county and city of San Diego signaled a willingness to join the legal strategy, but neither party has followed through yet.

Plaintiffs argued that because IBWC controls a flood-control channel that redirects the Tijuana River on its way to the Pacific Ocean, as well as water-capture basins in five canyons along the border, the agency is responsible for the pollution that often escapes those systems.

The canyon collectors and pumps on the Tijuana River are intended to divert polluted flows to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant west of San Ysidro.

“We’ve learned that small spills when they’re really toxic can have a huge impact on public health, and if IBWC were doing their job it wouldn’t happen,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina “They’re not even trying. All they do it make excuses. It’s embarrassing how little they care about environmental or public health or following the law.”

Lawyers for the defense have said that the government isn’t legally responsible for the renegade flows that escape their collection systems, pointing out that the situation would be significantly worse without its efforts.

Before the federal government spent roughly $344 million to create its diversion and treatment system in the 1990s, millions of gallons of sewage would flow daily down the Tijuana River into San Diego County.

Following an unexpected tour of the Tijuana River Valley, federal court judge Jeffrey T. Miller ruled that the case could move forward despite a motion by the defense to dismiss the lawsuit.

The state’s lawsuit takes a narrower approach than that of the local cities. It focuses specifically on the maintenance and operation of the collector basins, which are designed to funnel water that spills through the canyons during dry weather to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant west of San Ysidro.

The lawsuit alleges that IBWC has failed to keep the diversion pumps free of debris, leading to a clogged system that allows the basins to overflow into the surrounding areas.

The complaint also says the agency has failed to document and report spills on a number of occasions in recent years.

As foul-smelling, often black, polluted water has bypassed the collection systems, it has impacted border patrol agents working in the area, as well as residents and farmers in the Tijuana River Valley.

Union officials with the National Border Patrol Council have said they have considered filing a lawsuit against the federal government to force more action on the issue.

“We’re trying not to go down that road, but we don’t want our people to be getting chemical burns or getting sick or dying early because they won’t clean it up,” said Christopher Harris, a border agent in San Diego for 20 years and the secretary for the local border patrol union.

On Tuesday, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted officials with Comision Estatal de Servicios Publicos de Tijuana, or CESPT, a state agency that operates the city’s sewer and water delivery system.

Regional director German Lizola told a group of elected officials and business leaders that Tijuana was having a hard time keeping up with its population growth.

“We continue to knock on many doors. We are doing everything possible to work on these issues,” he said through a translator.

“The problem that we have to face is a lack of resources for infrastructure in Mexico,” he added. “We are two different countries and that deal with different issues.”

Officials have said that Tijuana and other border towns have some of the best wastewater infrastructure in Mexico, in large part, due to past U.S. grants and other federal programs that facilitate low-interest loans.

New CBP Handheld Device

                                              by Staff Technology Editor Y. Lee Peyote 

Got into the San Ysidro SENTRI border crossing line at approximately 8:30 Friday morning.  The line was backed up to the auto dealerships south of the Padre Kino roundabout/statue.  Was able to sift in at the Kino statue to save maybe 10 minutes, because there was no cop with yellow tape there this morning.

This is the Tijuana Avenida Padre Kino/Sentri lineup in green

This brought back a memory of taking my parents north to San Diego after their first Baja visit in 2007.  It was a 3 hour wait on a Sunday afternoon in July when the Avenida Padre Kino route was then the regular border crossing line, ouch.  We thoroughly enjoyed our adult beverages that evening at Bali Hai restaurant.

Line was moving quickly, so I did not order a D’Volada coffee.

I approached the CBP booth at the 20 minute mark, yippee.  The CBP guy gets out of his chair and holds a hand held, black device about the size of a cell phone, but, thicker.  He points it at the front of the 1 car in the chute ahead of me.  I notice that in the 3 lanes to my right, a handful of CBP gals/guys had the same device.

Now my CBP lane guy come to my car, points the device at front of my car, then runs it along the side of my car.  Says “Good morning, how are you?” in a friendly manner scanning away, then pauses at my gas tank door.

No one is crossing in the first 5 SENTRI lanes right now as all of the CBP team scans cars.  Cars are stopped.  In my side rear view mirror, my guy is scanning 2 cars behind me.

I’m not the tin foil hat guy, but, this group scan by approximately 4-5 CBP types heightens my DEFCON status.  The hairs on my fetlocks are raised.

After approx 3-4 minute delay, my CBP dude walks back to his booth, waves the vehicle in front of me on and it is my turn.  CBP dude: “Anything to declare?”.  ME:”Yep, I have one bottle of champagne on ice in the cooler.” CBP dude: “Nice, enjoy your day”.”.

I usually don’t engage CBP, but his friendliness gave me an opening.  ME: “So, what’s the new scanning device for?”. CBP dude: “Oh, it’s, uhhh,….nothing….don’t worry.”.

His response was a bit nervous and clearly unscripted.  My experience with CBP is that they usually follow a very tight script.

It was not this new gadget. This fella is a drug sniffer, but, I have never seen it at border crossings.

Don’t think it was this one either.  This photo is of a “Buster” density device.  It is like a stud finder, to find guys like me ;).

It is prohibited to photo/video at border crossing, so I don’t have a shot of the device spotted on Friday.


Will ask again on my next crossing if no news surfaces.

BTW, yes, the champagne kept its cool for 11 hours and was a perfect refreshment with friends at happy hour.  CHEERS!

BINGO, I think we have a winner.  This looks like the gizmo.

The Radiation Pager is a hand-held radiation detector designed for security forces, customs inspectors, and emergency responders. The Radiation Pager is the most sensitive radiation detector for its size commercially available and is hundreds of times more sensitive than Geiger-Muller (GM) detectors of similar size. The sensitivity and small size of the Radiation Pager is made possible by the combination of a new miniature photomultiplier tube and a scintillation crystal.

The Radiation Pager is approximately the size of a message pager and can be worn on a belt or carried in a pocket. When the Radiation Pager detects x-rays or gamma rays at levels above the natural background, the Pager quickly alerts the operator by flashing a high-intensity light and either sounding an alarm or vibrating. The operator can easily locate the radiation source using a single digit LED display, a flashing LED, or an audio tone. The Radiation Pager is designed for people who need to quickly and discreetly detect and locate a radiation threat. The Radiation Pager is easy to use and operators need no special training. The Radiation Pager is designed to withstand the rigors of daily use. The pager operates continuously for over a year on two AA alkaline batteries.

  • Cesium Iodide scintillation detector
  • Detector size is 0.5″ diameter (1.3 cm) X 1.5″ long (3.8 cm)
  • Unit size is 4.1″ X 2.4″ X 0.9″ (10.2 cm X 6.1 cm X 2.3 cm)
  • Weighs 6 oz. (170 g) with batteries
  • Operating temperature range from –13 to 122 degrees F (-25 to 50 degrees C)
  • 45 KeV low energy cutoff
  • Runs continuously for over 1 year on 2 AA alkaline batteries
  • Less than one second integration time (response time)
  • Flashing yellow LED (high intensity daylight visible), audio, and vibrator alarms
  • Seven segment LED display indicates radiation intensity
  • Modulated audio tone and high intensity daylight visible LED indicate radiation intensity




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