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Smugglers have cut through new border wall, Washington Post reports

Posted at 11:47 AM, Nov 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-03 01:09:40-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Smugglers from Mexico have reportedly been able to breach recently constructed sections of the border wall, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Smugglers breached the wall's bollard steel and concrete sections using reciprocating saws, allowing drugs and people to pass through from Mexico, the Post reported, citing U.S. agents and officials. The exact locations of the damaged wall were not indicated.

10News reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Saturday. While no one was available to speak, the CBP said in an email, "the bollard walls were not designed to be impenetrable or indestructible."

RELATED: Border officials say the wall is working, drug smuggling shifting to the sea

This contrasts President Donald Trump's claims during a visit to San Diego in September, in which he claimed the bollard walls were "virtually impenetrable."

The President went on to say at the time, "if you think you're going to cut it with a blow torch, that doesn't work because you hit concrete. And then if you think you're going to go through the concrete that doesn't work because we have very powerful rebar inside."

The new 14-mile stretch of bollard fencing was completed in August, running from Otay Mountain to San Diego's coastline. The wall measures 18 to 30 feet in height and in some areas, includes two barriers.

RELATED: Touring San Diego's border with agents

Border officials told 10News this week the wall is ultimately working, saying that drug smuggling has shifted to the ocean because of the improved barrier. CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan also said this week that border apprehensions were up 88% from Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019.

An administration official told the Post that the number of these breaches have totaled "a few instances," and echoed border agents' sentiments that the wall "significantly increased security and deterrence" in the San Diego and El Centro areas.

The Washington Post reports that smugglers have cut through areas, then replaced the bollard in its original position or used putty to make it appear fixed in order to continue using the opening.

RELATED: US border agents dealing with rise of 'fake families'

Though agents can repair the damage by welding the bollard wall, they say smugglers can return to the same spot because the metal and concrete are now weakened, the Post said.

The Post says that some of the damage has occurred in areas where electronic sensors to detect sawing vibrations have yet to be installed.

Makeshift ladders have also been used to climb the barrier into the San Diego area, using hooks and rope ladders to climb down on the U.S. side of the border, the Post adds.