Since March last year, the border between the US and Mexico has been sealed to nonessential movement, but Americans seemed exempted as they can traverse through the border. The limitation of movement in the border have brought changes to how syndicates are importing contrabands as they tapped Americans to do the task.

 “A big change we’re seeing is that 90% of the mules, the ones that are bringing the drugs into the U.S., are U.S. citizens,” Sheriff David Hathaway of Santa Cruz County said.

Nogales town on the border, he said, is usually very quiet. “I grew up in this town, I was born here, I went to the public schools and it’s a very peaceful town, very peaceful county. Our crime rates here are lower than the average for Tucson,” the sheriff said.

But drug mules, unhampered by the global health crisis, are still seeking methods to smuggle illegal drugs across the border.

“The cartels are adaptive as long as there’s the demand here in the United States for the drugs they’re going to figure out a way to do it. They’re going under the border, there’s tunnels going under this town that have been there for 100 years. … They’ll get ultralight airplanes and fly over, they’ll go through the commercial ports of entry, but the most volume of the drugs goes right through the legal commercial ports of entry,” Hataway said.

He added that Nogales is the state’s most huge port of entry. It accommodates vehicles, commercial, and pedestrian movements. But the virus-related border closure has forced several local businesses to shut down as Mexico recorded a decline in its tourism.

Hathaway cautioned travelers going into Mexico for shopping that they might be potential targets of drug cartels looking for people to work for them.

“The drug traffickers are opportunist and they’ll say if we can’t recruit the Mexican citizens because they can’t cross, then they’ll approach U.S. citizens so we warn people you know, if you’re going into Mexico to shop, you know there’s a possibility that somebody will try to recruit you to bring something back,” the sheriff warned.