AZ BAG Cochise County Border Alliance Group Reorganized
The Cochise County Border Alliance Group was established by Sheriff Larry Dever in 1987 in order to address a need for multiple agencies to compile and share narcotics information within our county. With Cochise County being a major drug and human smuggling corridor, the lack of communication and intelligence sharing between local, state, and federal agencies was significantly lacking and with Sheriff Devers’ leadership the Border Alliance Group (BAG) was born.
The purpose of BAG was to create a multi-agency task force with the host agency being the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. The participants included the Sierra Vista Police Department, Benson Police Department, Willcox Police Department, Douglas Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, United States Border Patrol and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Tombstone Marshal’s Office. The BAG Task Force was a participating agency of AZ HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) which is a federal agency that provided funding for the Task Force operations.
The BAG task force was overseen by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office Investigations division Lieutenant, with tactical squads consisting of Cochise County Sheriff Detectives, Tombstone Marshall’s Office Detectives, and United States Border Patrol Agents assigned to the task force. The Arizona Department of Public Safety maintained a separate strategic squad which was a part of the BAG task force.
The Bag task force members were tasked with seeking out narcotics violators through self initiated activity, information passed on to the task force by patrol personnel or other agencies and anonymous calls forwarded to the BAG office. One of the BAG officers’ goals was to target street level narcotics by conducting follow-up on information received and also conduct street level narcotics interdiction missions where officers performed traffic stops, and made community contacts to seek out narcotics violators.
Over time due to restructuring of asset distribution rules that severely restricted how funds could be allocated, many of the original agencies drifted away, which directly impacted the mission of the Border Alliance Group as a whole. Federal funding also began to decrease and threatened several grant funded/federal funded positions within the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Dever, recognizing the inevitable loss of revenue to our agency, made the decision to reorganize the Sheriff’s Office personnel into a local law enforcement group which will have a more direct and dedicated approach to crime and narcotics activity in our communities. Sheriff Devers’ directive to the newly designed Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) is to continue preparing cases on criminal activity in our neighborhoods and local communities, while working closely with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution. This will also include maintaining a close intelligence sharing relationship with other local, state, and federal agencies to manage larger and more in-depth narcotics/smuggling operational investigations.