(CNSNews.com) -- Speaking before the House Judiciary Committee on the issue of illegal immigration, Sheriff Paul Babeu, from Pinal County, Ariz., said up to 30 percent of the roughly 120,000 illegal aliens apprehended every year at the southwest U.S. border around his county have some kind of criminal record in the United States, adding that “the border is not more secure than ever” as President Barack Obama has stated.
He also said the situation is so lawless in some areas it is like a war-zone on American soil, where “local law enforcement is leading the effort to fight criminal syndicates from a foreign nation.”
According to Babeu, between 88,000 and 123,000 illegal aliens are apprehended each year at the Tuscon Sector, one of nine border patrol zones along the U.S.-Mexico border. Among those illegal aliens, between 17 and 30 percent have a criminal record in the country, Babeu testified.
“This clearly shows that the border is not more secure than ever,” he said.
Babeu also detailed the drug-running and smuggling operations that have become more and more prevalent in his county. In one day alone, law enforcement officials arrested 78 members of a notorious cartel and seized 108 illegal weapons, all during a single drug bust.
“[These are] not just handguns,” Babeu explained. “These are scoped rifles and AK-47s, two of which were traced back to the Fast and Furious operation. This is in my county.”
Illegal aliens who assist in drug-running efforts are also situated on mountaintops as “scouts,” equipped with binoculars and encrypted radios to avoid law enforcement, he said.
“When I tell a story like that, having served a tour in Iraq and commanded soldiers in the army, it almost appears I’m telling a story of some war-torn area,” Babeu said.
“This is on American soil. That’s what’s so disruptive, is the fact that here, as the sheriff, where our primary job is to answer 9-1-1 calls, how on Earth did we get here to this place that local law enforcement is leading the effort to fight criminal syndicates from a foreign nation on American soil?”
Babeu also described what he referred to as a “mass prison break,” in which hundreds of illegal alien criminals have been released from custody by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and sent back into the local community.
At one point in 2013, around 400 illegal alien criminals were set free from local jails and back into Pinal County. Another 30 to 50 illegal alien criminals are released every day, Babeu stated before Congress.
“These are the people that everybody, including the president, said are the bad actors,” he said, adding that those released people have criminal records that include rape, manslaughter, child molestation, financial crimes, armed robbery and assault against law enforcement.
When he asked for more information regarding these individuals and their criminal history, the federal government refused –and continues to refuse -- to give it to him, Babeu said.
“I, as the sheriff, who swore an oath to protect the people of my county, should have a right to that information,” Babeu said.
“I would urge this Congress to stand up as a lawmaking body, to enforce the laws, just as you expect me and every other law enforcement officer locally to do, and secure the border,” he added.