Arizona Under Siege
siege,” said rancher Ed Ashurst as he pointed to where he had
tracked the killer of his friend and neighbor to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Five years ago, we didn’t even bother to lock our doors. Now
my wife and I carry firearms everywhere we go.”
John Ladd is a
fifth-generation cattle rancher in southern Cochise County, Ariz. The
southern boundary of his family property is a 10-mile stretch of steel
fence erected by the U.S. government. On the other side of the fence:
Mexico. He told us, “Mexican drug cartels are running this part of
The poet Robert Frost
posited that “good fences make good neighbors.” From what our Fox
News’ “War Stories” team documented this week, that’s not the
case here in southern Arizona, where “the fence” on the
U.S.-Mexico border remains unfinished. According to many
levelheaded, beleaguered Americans here, the fence is little more
than a “speed bump” for drug couriers, killers, human smugglers and
lesser criminals flooding into our country.
Wednesday night, just
hours after Barack and Michelle Obama and their doting supporters dined
on Martha’s Vineyard, our team, accompanied by members of the Cochise
County sheriff’s Border Interdiction Unit, walked up a quiet hilltop a
few hundred yards north of the “fence.” There we watched through
night-vision devices as a group of individuals approached the Mexican
side of the steel barrier, timing their movement with the passing of
U.S. Border Patrol vehicles.
By the time we departed
for another location two hours after dawn, the “jumpers” — all
wearing backpacks — had yet to make it into the U.S. Heartened by what
we had seen, I said to one of the deputies, “It looks as if the fence
“Yeah,” said one of
our guides and well-armed protectors, “but they have spotters who saw
us leave. They will try again. Maybe we’ll get ‘em, maybe not. But
there are a lot more of them than there are of us. And they are
better-armed than we are because the cartels have bigger budgets.”
The numbers verify the
claim. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — a multibillionaire who heads
the Sinaloa cartel just across Arizona’s border — commands an
army of more than 11,000 “shooters” equipped with heavy machine
guns, other automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and armored
vehicles. That’s more than twice as many “troops” available to
the U.S. Border Patrol, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Indian
Affairs police and county sheriffs on Arizona’s border.
Pinal County Sheriff
Paul Babeu — more than 90 miles north of the border — explained the
consequences: “Our deputies are outnumbered and outgunned.
We’re up against drug runners carrying AK-47s,” the Soviet-era
weapon used by al-Qaida terrorists and Taliban insurgents fighting U.S.
troops in Afghanistan.
After one of his
deputies was wounded by an AK-47-toting border crosser, Babeu requested
funding to purchase AR-15 rifles for his department. The county turned
him down for lack of funds. He told us, “My deputies shouldn’t have
to buy their own weapons to protect themselves and the public.” A
group of concerned citizens is soliciting donations to buy the rifles
Larry Dever is the
sheriff of Cochise County. At 6,000 square miles, it is larger than
Connecticut. His jurisdiction is home to Tombstone, scene of the
legendary 1881 shootout at the OK Corral. It also shares an 82-mile
border with Mexico. Last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, more than 550,000 people were arrested trying to enter the
U.S. illegally. Nearly half of them crossed the border in the “Tucson
sector,” which includes Cochise County. Yet Dever has fewer than 90
After Cochise County
rancher Bob Krantz was murdered by an illegal border jumper March 27,
the Obama administration promised to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops
to “assist the U.S Border Patrol on the Mexican border.” Arizona
will get fewer than 550 of them — when they finally arrive. Not one
cent of the $600 million appropriated by Congress this month for
“border security” will go to any of the border states or sheriffs.
The money all goes to federal agencies.
Instead of new weapons,
reinforcements and help protecting our southern border, Arizona’s
sheriffs and Gov. Jan Brewer received something entirely different from
the Obama administration: a federal lawsuit. Last month, a federal judge
in Phoenix decided Arizona could not enforce certain provisions of a
state law — SB 1070 — which allowed Arizona law enforcement officers
to ascertain the citizenship of individuals stopped for legal
infractions. Arizona filed its appeal in the case this week, while we
were on the border.
That’s not all that happened this week in what one of our hosts called “the northern edge of the new war zone.” A mass grave containing the remains of more than 70 murdered men, women and children from Central America and South America was found in northeastern Mexico, less than 90 miles from the U.S. border. That brings the civilian murder toll in Mexico to more than 28,000 since 2006 — higher than Afghanistan. And last night, two were killed and three were wounded in a drug-related gunfight here in Tucson.
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