The note from U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan to the U.S. Border Patrol was short and to the point: Stop sending petty marijuana cases to his office.
“It is our long-standing policy to use limited federal resources to pursue the sophisticated criminal organizations who smuggle millions of dollars of drugs, guns and other contraband across our borders,” Sullivan wrote in November.
Sullivan’s note is one in a string of flare-ups as the Border Patrol expanded its influence and manpower here in recent months. The marijuana busts had come from inland road blocks on state highways.
Sheriff’s offices, farmers, and a U.S. Congressman have all made their opinion about the patrol’s increased presence known, and not all of it has been friendly.
The clashes cast light on the expanded power of the agency along the country’s northern border.
More than 1,100 agents have been added to the Canadian since Sept. 11, 2001, four times its presence before the terrorist attacks. Hundreds more agents are to be hired next year.