Smugglers are reportedly helping migrants scale sections of Donald Trump’s multi-billion border wall using $5 ladders.
El Paso’s urban stretch of border is said to be littered with the ladders, which are engineered out of rebar and match the rust brown colours of the wall.
“Somebody is making money off those ladders,” agent Joe Romero told the newspaper. “The agents pulled it off the wall and cut it up so it can’t be used again.”
The redbar ladders began appearing in large numbers once construction of a replacement wall in El Paso was finished last May. According to Border Patrol, illegal crossings have increased ever since.
“We’re starting to see a lot of evading activity,” said Agent Ramiro Cordero. “We’re starting to see the criminal organisations working hand-to-hand on either side to avoid detection. More and more we are seeing ‘failure to yields’ — they are utilising ladders to go over the fence and diversionary tactics.”
Border Patrol apprehensions of single adults — those most likely to use the ladder method — have nearly doubled in the El Paso sector.
From October 2019 through January 2020, Border Patrol apprehended 10,030 adults, compared with 5,150 in the same period a year ago.
The ladders appear to be made by hand from two poles of 3/8-inch rebar and four thinner poles, fitted with steps and bent over at the end in a ‘U’ shape to hook on the top of the wall.
The El Paso Times reports smugglers could be sourcing the rebar from a local hardware store in Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican city just south of El Paso, where six metres of the material costs roughly $5.30 (£4).
To date, almost 100 miles of border have been built under the Trump administration, mostly to replace and improve existing barriers.
Mr Trump’s campaign promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but thus far the almost $10bn (£7.7bn) budget has come from taxpayer money.
The president has proposed spending an additional $2bn for border wall construction.
A total 450 miles of the barrier is expected to be completed by the end of this year.