A Border Patrol agent is positioned by the border fence.
A Border Patrol agent is positioned by the border fence. Photo by Chris Stone

U.S. Border Patrol agents working in the San Diego area reported a 28% increase in unlawful border-crossings during the first half of the current fiscal year, compared with the same period last year, the federal agency said Monday.

From last October through the beginning of this month, agents in the San Diego sector encountered 86,074 people who had entered the United States unlawfully, according to Border Patrol public affairs. Over the first six months of the prior fiscal year, that statistic topped out at 67,222, the agency reported.

A total of 55% of the migrants apprehended locally so far this fiscal year were from nations other than Mexico, with the top five countries being Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Nicaragua and Turkey.

Working with other federal personnel and state and local agencies, Border Patrol agents also have thwarted more than 300 maritime-smuggling attempts in the San Diego area so far this fiscal year, taking 619 people into custody during the operations, according to officials.

Additionally, Border Patrol officers impounded over 1,900 pounds of narcotics in the region over the period, including 583 pounds of fentanyl — putting the agency on track to surpass the previous seizure record of 1,052 pounds of the drug, set last fiscal year — along with 765 pounds of methamphetamine, 514 pounds of cocaine and 45 pounds of heroin.

“These results are a direct testament to the heart and soul of our agents,” Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said. “In the midst of turmoil, uncertainty and even global pandemics, our agents show up and get the job done.”

San Diego sector personnel staff stations in Boulevard, Campo, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Murrieta, Otay Mesa and San Clemente.