By Charlotte Cuthbertson
COCHISE COUNTY, Arizona—Wanda Sitoski loved holidays. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter—you name it, she had boxes of decorations for them all.
But her upcoming 65th birthday was more significant than most, as Sitoski was poised to retire, kick back, and travel.
On Oct. 30, 2021, as she drove to her favorite expensive restaurant to celebrate with her son the evening before the big day, a 16-year-old who was smuggling four illegal aliens in his car ran a red light at 105 miles per hour and killed her instantly.
“All she wanted to do was retire and drive to the Grand Canyon. She wanted to sit in peace and quiet. And a 16-year-old kid took all that away from her,” Sitoskis’s son, Edward Fritsch, told The Epoch Times.
“The day that happened, my soul was split in half.”
Cochise County in Arizona shares 83 miles of international border with Mexico. The illegal immigrants coming through the county aren’t seeking asylum—they’re doing everything they can to avoid law enforcement and get to Phoenix, according to Sheriff Mark Dannels.
“These people can’t turn themselves in, they’ll get deported. These are the bad people. We’re dealing with the worst of the worst,” he said.
Border Patrol apprehensions in the Tucson sector, which includes Cochise County, almost tripled in 2021 compared to 2020.
In the fiscal year 2021, border agents apprehended more than 190,000 illegal aliens in the sector, compared to 66,000 the year before. Thousands more evaded capture.
Dannels said his office currently tracks between 900 and 1,000 smuggling vehicles in the county every month—a massive increase that began escalating at the start of President Joe Biden’s tenure.
Drivers are being paid about $1,000 per illegal alien they smuggle.
The immediate destination is usually Phoenix, which is used as a hub to travel to other cities throughout the United States.
“It’s like the cartel Uber. They just stage in public places all along the roadways waiting to get called up to go pick them up,” Dannels said.