My easiest apprehension


It was around 1979, maybe early 1980, in Calexico. The sun was just starting to go down, and the swing shift was starting to get busy. I was working the East Fence, just east of the Port of Entry. I was in a marked sedan, an old police package Plymouth Grand Fury 440. East of the POE there was the Calexico water tower, and just east of that there was a gate on the border fence called Heber Gate. I have never actually seen that gate open in my entire time in Calexico. Under and to the east of the water tower there was a public parking lot, where folks could park and walk to the POE for a visit to Mexicali. A little further east, on the south side of the fence, was a small park. It was one of the places that future illegal entrants would gather before trying to jump and run into downtown Calexico. There were quite a few potential illegals hanging around, waiting for a chance to jump and run. As the sun went down, the games would begin.

I was swinging through the parking lot, returning to the fence after a short chase. As I was approaching the fence, I saw a guy on the south side run across the street and start to climb the fence. How he didn’t see me, I’ll never know. So I pulled up to the fence and stopped right in front of him. I was about 3 feet off the fence.  His buddies in the park saw me, and they were already laughing at what was about to happen. To see the guy on the fence, I had to hold my head out over the dashboard and look straight up. At that point, he was at the top of the fence. He looked east.  He looked west. He turned to his buddies and waved to them. “Vamanos!” But he never looked straight down. He climbed over and started his way down, so I got out of my vehicle and walked around to stand behind him. His buddies in the park were literally rolling on the floor laughing. When He got to be about a foot off the ground, I tapped him on the shoulder. The look of disbelief on his face was hilarious. Even I had to laugh. His buddies were going insane, insulting him and laughing. More than a couple of times, I heard the word “pendejo”, and there was no doubt it was meant for him.

As I placed him in the back seat, he meekly asked why we had changed the colors of our vehicles. (We hadn’t yet. The conversion from pea-green to white with stripes wouldn’t happen for another 12 or so years.) A couple of apprehensions later, I ran my guys to the Station, and then I was back on the line and back in the game. I never had one that easy again.

Mike McClarnon