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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — In less than two months, U.S. and Mexico authorities have identified nearly 200 breaches in the border barrier in the El Paso Sector.

The latest incident involved a 20-year-old Mexican man, who, along with three other people, attempted to enter the U.S. illegally on Nov. 25 near the Santa Teresa port of entry in New Mexico.

Juarez police said the suspected smuggler had bolt cutters in his possession at the time of the arrest.

He faces charges under the Fence Cutter Initiative that U.S. and Mexican authorities launched in August to prosecute individuals caught damaging the border barrier with the intent of smuggling people and contraband into the United States.

Criminals use cutting tools, grinders, and acetylene torches to breach the border barriers daily, the U.S. Border Patrol said, adding that barriers represent a challenge to transnational criminal organizations.

If left unrepaired, barrier breaches become an exploitable access point. However, they have become a growing and costly problem for border authorities. Depending on the type of barrier, the average cost to repair the breaches can range from $300 to $400.

So far this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, officials in the El Paso Sector have identified more than 198 breaches. In the fiscal year 2021, officials identified a total of 922.

“Our partnership with the Government of Mexico has been invaluable, and we are increasing accountability one breach at a time,” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez. “The Fence Cutter Initiative is ground roots level effort enacted by officers and agents keeping our shared border safe and secure.”