From left, Evelyn Rivera, Carlos Padilla and Renata Teodoro reunited with their mothers in June 2013 on opposite sides of the border wall that divides Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico. The Border Patrol recently began adding mesh panels to the Nogales border barrier to deter smugglers.

Valeria Fernandez / The Associated Press 2013

The Border Patrol is adding mesh panels to the fence in Nogales as a way to keep people from smuggling goods in the downtown area, officials said.

The agency started to add mesh to the bollard-style fencing —metal polls a few inches apart that reach up to 30 feet high— in July to serve as a deterrent. This next phase will add another 700 feet of mesh in the area of West International Avenue and will be completed within a few weeks, officials said in a written statement.

The Nogales International first reported that by mid-September, the material stretched approximately 75 feet in an area popular with families visiting from both sides of the border.

Tucson Sector Border Patrol said there was no specific incident or apprehension connected to the decision.

An Arizona Daily Star public records request to get the number and amount of contraband seized during the last five years to try to determine why the upgrade was needed was denied.

Customs and Border Protection cited a federal exemption that protects records compiled for law enforcement purposes that if released “would disclose techniques and/or procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.”

Chris Sullivan, a spokesman for the Tucson Sector Border Patrol, said the agency is constantly doing updates based on available resources to increase infrastructure, and that this project was part of that.

The area, he said, “is an urban environment,” and that “there’s always that criminal element that tries to find vulnerabilities within our infrastructure.”

He couldn’t immediately provide the total cost of the project, but added that sometimes updates are done with available supplies they keep to make fixes or improvements to the fence.

The Tucson Border Patrol sector shares 262 miles with Mexico, out of which 212 have some type of infrastructure, he said.

In Arizona, which includes the Tucson and part of the Yuma Border Patrol sectors, there are a total of 372.5 border miles, out of which 123.2 have taller pedestrian fencing and 183.2 miles of vehicle barriers — shorter fencing meant to stop vehicles from crossing.

About 18 percent of the border in Arizona is unfenced.