Federal Gov't Installs Pole Barriers at Mexican Border

Federal officials will begin installing steel pole barriers this month to stop drug and migrant smugglers from driving through what have been high-traffic corridors along sections of the Mexican border in Arizona and New Mexico.

The poles, which will be spaced about four feet apart, will be placed along two miles of border east of San Luis, Ariz., and along a one-mile stretch west of Columbus, N.M., in areas frequented by smugglers using cars, pickups and vans. The barriers have previously been used near San Diego.

Officials say smugglers driving around the barriers will go into isolated terrain where they will be easier to catch. Additionally, the western side of the Arizona barrier will end where officials are extending an existing wall of corrugated metal to form a contiguous barrier.

The steel poles are 10 to 12 inches in diameter and 12 to 13-1/2 feet long. Heavy equipment will hammer them about halfway into the ground. The poles will also be filled with solid resin.

The barriers are expected to be able to withstand crashes of up to 40 mph, said Michael Gramley, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Yuma sector, which includes San Luis in southwestern Arizona.

"This particular design has been put through many different tests, and it appears that it will be effective in preventing vehicles from being able to cross the international boundary and will be very durable if someone is attempting to vandalize them," Gramley said.

During the 2005 fiscal year, more than 2,700 vehicles, a record, crossed the border illegally through the Yuma sector, he said.