Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey recently directed state agencies to fill in gaps on the southern border wall near Yuma with stacked shipping containers. State officials announced this week that it appears vandals tipped over parts of the improvised barrier before it was completed.
Reporter Claudia Ramos published photos on Monday of containers laying on their side after falling away from completed parts of the barrier. The toppled containers were damaged before they could be welded together and topped with barbed wire.
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Initial reports from construction crews attributed the damage to high winds. Ducey’s communications director C.J. Karamargin said on Wednesday that it was unlikely that prevailing winds were strong enough to cause the barrier damage.
Karamargin said that the containers weigh 8,000 pounds each, weighing as much as a Ford F-450. He added, “You don’t see a lot of Ford F-450s flying around when we have strong winds.”
The toppled containers were reportedly first discovered around midnight Monday by U.S. Border Patrol agents. The damaged sections had not been bolted and welded by construction crews by the end of their workday Sunday afternoon.
Pictures of the damaged containers showed deep scratches and dents along with puncture damage. The photo evidence indicates some type of heavy equipment was likely used to move the containers according to Karamargin.
Border Patrol agents initially blocked off the area and did not allow construction crews to return to work. The agents reported there had been “heavy activity” in the area. Crews were allowed to return to work by around 7 a.m. on Monday and began reinstalling the barrier.
Karamargin told reporters that the vandalism indicates the project is necessary and worth the effort. He noted some have “attempted to dismiss this as a pointless effort because this is not the main route through which people enter the United States.” He said that if that were true, “why would someone make the effort to topple over nearly 18,000 pounds of shipping container?”
He said that sort of attack on a barrier that was not having its intended impact “doesn’t make sense.”
Ducey announced the improvised barrier to block gaps in the border wall in response to the Biden administration’s failure to finish the permanent wall, even after it said that the wall near Yuma would be completed. The state project is designed to fill a gap of about 1,000 feet in the wall and to control the flow of illegal immigrants, drugs, and other contraband.
Karamargin added that given the goal of the project is to protect Arizona communities, the vandalism shows the state “clearly struck a nerve.”