Border Agents Aided By East County Shooting Range Closure

The U.S. Border Patrol now have access to an area heavily used for illegal smuggling, 10News reported.

Border Patrol agent Jerry Conlin has been watching the U.S.-Mexico border for four years, but now he can his fellow agents can keep an eye out from above.

"By us having access to this hill, we now control this entire area," said Conlin.

Drug and human smugglers often use the hill as a lookout to track the location of Border Patrol agents. With the new access, the roles have now been reversed.

"He can have eyes on them long before they get close to the primary fence," said Conlin.

In the past the only way up the hill was by foot or by all-terrain vehicle.

"It's very difficult to run through this area," said Conlin.

Border Patrol agents deal with thick brush to get to the lookout, but now they have easier access.

However, some say that access comes at a price. The Border Patrol asked the Bureau of Land Management, a state agency which controls the area, to shut down the Airport Mesa/Carrizo Creek shooting range for safety reasons.

"It wouldn't be safe for a shooting range; bullets would be flying around and the possibility of ricocheting," said Conlin.

The agency granted the Border Patrol's request, and it is disappointing news for Bob Roedel.

Roedel practices in the area, and he said it is the last shooting range of its kind in San Diego County.

"Shooting skills are not retentive; you have to practice at it, you have to keep up on it," Roedel told 10News.

Roedel said if the closure keeps men like Conlin safer, he would not mind traveling a little further to practice his shooting.

Those violating the range's closure risk penalties, including fines and prison sentences.