I’ve been trying to write this piece for nearly a year. To be honest, I thought the people living on the Mexican border were simply exaggerating and overreacting to a few foreigners trying to get into the United States. I was wrong. After spending quite a bit of time on the border with private landowners and the groups operating there, all I can say is the Mexican border is a time bomb with very few ticks left on the clock.
The following is a true story. It didn’t happen in Somalia, Afghanistan or even Iraq. It happened in the United States. Alarmingly, this is not an isolated incident; in fact, this type of criminal activity is a daily occurrence on the U.S./Mexican border. Of course, the names have been changed to protect the landowner and the private security operators involved in this incident.
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It was a crisp autumn day in southern Arizona as John and his team set out across the desert. They had arrived in southern Arizona to do some volunteer work for a private landowner on the Mexican border. The landowner, a senior citizen, was headed out to repair fences and clean up the trash left by the hordes of illegal aliens who cross his property every day. John was carrying a Springfi eld M1A—the semiautomatic version of the U.S. Army M14 rifl e. As he stood watch during the cleanup, he received a call over his two-way radio that a pickup truck had crossed the Mexican border and was rapidly approaching him. As the truck closed in on his position John made his presence known by stepping into plain view. The pickup stopped a good distance away, but what happened next was almost unbelievable.
The driver leveled a rifl e from the driver’s side window, aimed it at
John and the landowner, and then opened fi re. John immediately took cover and began returning fi re with his M1A. During the course of the fi refi ght John expended a twenty-round magazine of Cor-Bon FMJ .308 Winchester shooting at the Mexican’s truck. As John put it, “Pieces of the terrorist’s windshield and trim began popping off his truck, indicating that my rounds were hitting their mark. I was putting ‘steel on target’ with wellaimed rifl e fi re, as I had been trained to do as a soldier. These same martial skills had saved my life in Iraq, and I was determined not to let this cowardly terrorist harm our elderly host. Unlike what the talking heads in Washington, D.C. would like us all to believe, running away was not an option. We were in the middle of the desert, miles from help. Our cross-border attacker would have quickly caught up to us with his pickup truck and gunned us both down as we tried to fl ee. Besides, our elderly host would not have been able to run as BORDER WARquickly as I couldS, and it was my duty to protect him. My choice was clear. It was kill or be killed.”
During the attack, the shooter expended approximately ten to fi fteen rounds of ammo directly at John and the landowner. When the shooter had emptied his rifl e, he gunned his vehicle in reverse; eventually turning around and speeding away. John pursued the attacker on foot and shortly thereafter found the Mexican attacker’s vehicle abandoned about 3/4 of a mile away from where the shooting started. The Cor-Bon ammo had disabled the truck, but the attacker had managed to bail out and make it back into Mexico. Through sheer luck (for the attacker), none of John’s rounds had dealt a fatal blow.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL MIGRANT WORKER
No matter what the politicians and left-wingers tell you, what’s happening on the Mexican border is not as simple as illegal aliens crossing to fi nd work and better their lives. Arizona State Republican Delegate J.T. Ready describes some areas on the border as a “low
intensity guerrilla confl ict.” He states, “These remote areas have become a haven for gangs, drug smugglers and human smugglers who are now crossing paths with private landowners.” These criminals J.T. Ready speaks of have become notorious for cutting fences, killing barking dogs, burglarizing homes and leaving large amounts of trash and debris in their wake. Mister Ready knows what he’s talking about. Not only does he spread the word through political means, but he also puts boots on the border trying to secure it through a presence of armed citizens, especially in remote areas. As he puts it, “Isolated ranches are rarely patrolled by law enforcement, so they have become premium real estate for foreign smugglers.”
Even though the violence is ratcheting up, most politicians in Washington don’t seem to care that law-abiding American property owners are being robbed, raped and shot at on their own land. About the only time politicians seem to care is when an illegal alien gets his feelings hurt or a property owner tries to protect what’s lawfully his and “infringes” upon some criminal trespasser’s socalled civil rights. It’s safe to say that the only reason for recent government interest in securing the border is because of the media coverage generated by a fedup citizenry—a citizenry that also recognizes just how vulnerable America is to another terrorist attack. It’s bureaucratic insanity. While the Transportation Security Administration searches little, bluehaired ladies getting on airplanes, the politicians allow anyone to freely walk into the United States via the Mexican border.
Due to this citizen outrage, additional Border Patrol agents have been dispatched to troubled areas and the politicians keep promising more help is on the way—but no one on the border is holding their breath. Ironically, this increased awareness and reaction to the problem has made things worse for the ranchers who live in remote areas. When enforcement is stepped-up in specifi c areas it simply moves the problem to another area. As a result, this limited increase in border security creates a more dangerous situation down the line since the smugglers have to expend more money and time to get their product inside the United States. It’s simple economics. The cost of doing business is increasing for the criminal so they are becoming more violent in their efforts to protect profi ts.
THE RETURN OF THE CITIZEN SOLDIER
The term “border security” is a joke. This is not due to bad law enforcement agents, but because of the restrictions and limitations placed on them by weak politicians, political correctness and nongovernment organizations such as the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center). In fact, the only security that exists on some parts of the border comes from private citizen patrols. These citizens volunteer their time and money to secure portions of the Mexican border by observing and reporting activity to the U.S. Border Patrol.
President Bush called these Americans “vigilantes.” Ironically this was about the same time he announced his “guest worker amnesty program” which fl ooded the border with more illegal aliens. It makes you wonder how any patriotic American could lend legitimacy to those who break the law and cast doubt on those wanting to uphold the law. In actuality, these “vigilantes” have saved hundreds of illegal alien lives by patrolling the border and fi nding immigrants near death in the desert from being lost and dehydrated. These “vigilantes” offer water, food and warm blankets to the immigrants while waiting for the Border Patrol to pick them up. It should also be noted that these “vigilantes” are responsible for thousands of illegal alien apprehensions including people from the Middle East, China and Latin America.
The most recognizable of the public border groups is the Minutemen, led by former California school teacher Chris Simcox. According to our sources, the Minutemen have over 4,500 members and 200,000 dollars in the bank—pretty impressive for a group of “vigilantes.” (Note: Chris Simcox did not answer S.W.A.T. Magazine’s repeated request for an interview. Information in this article was obtained from Minutemen members in the fi eld.) The standard operating procedure for the Minutemen is a “hands off” policy with their members simply observing and reporting border incursions to law enforcement. They also have a “no long guns” policy to give a less-militant appearance; instead many of their members carry sidearms for personal protection.
While the Minutemen have been extremely effective in shutting down long stretches of the border, there are other groups who take a more proactive stance towards border security. In fact, to fully understand how the border militias came into existence you would have to go back to 1985 and the ranch of Bob Maupin. Maupin is probably the only American who has the distinction of being arrested by the Mexican military on his own property inside the United States. While shooting with his daughter on his private shooting range, a Mexican military unit came across the U.S. border and forced them at gunpoint to give up their guns, and then attempted to detain them on their own property. Luckily, Maupin was thinking on his feet and through some pretty fancy maneuvering had his daughter run away and call the Border Patrol, who then arrested the soldiers and subsequently released them back inside of Mexico.
No jail time, no fi nes, no paper trail. In fact, the U.S. Government attempted to cover up this incident, but Maupin had friends within the government who managed to get documentation and photos to him. Later, Maupin found out that the reason the Mexican soldiers wanted to arrest him is because he had informed a DEA agent about illegal drug activity operating across the border from his property.
The Maupin incident soon became the Alamo rally cry for border militia groups. Groups such as Jack Foote’s Ranch Rescue were organized to preserve and protect private lands and landowners. It was a free service to property owners and proved to be very successful at stopping criminal trespassers on private property, as well as stopping narcotics traffi cking. In 2002, Ranch Rescue’s Operation Hawk seized 279 pounds of marijuana from a large group of smugglers. Soldier of Fortune Magazine covered Operation Hawk and reported on it extensively in its April and May 2003 issues. The drugs were turned over to law enforcement offi cials who were not too happy that a citizen patrol had successfully done their job for them.
Of course, any time a private group is successful at doing the government’s job there’s going to be fallout. Enter Morris Dees and the SPLC. With cries of racism and violation of civil rights, the SPLC got in on the action by suing Foote and Ranch Rescue over an incident in which illegal aliens claimed they were roughed up after illegally crossing into the United States. Foote did not answer the civil suit due to other legal reasons and Dees won a judgment in a liberal Texas courtroom. These criminal illegal aliens now own a forfeited seventy-acre ranch inside the United States and have a $500,000 additional judgment against Mr. Foote. How’s that for American justice?
Since this incident, private border militias have increased in numbers, but nowadays they operate without any fanfare, stay low-keyed and keep their groups cellular in nature. Unlike the public Minutemen, these quiet operators are actively engaging and detaining smugglers and other criminals on private lands that border Mexico. Off the record, most of the Border Patrol offi cers and local LEOs have a good working relationship with these groups and have even called on them to help with specifi c issues on which they receive intelligence.
This emerging militarization and tension on the border is a direct result of Washington, D.C. not upholding the law when it comes to defending the boundaries of the United States. Citizens are tired of seeing private landowners harassed and harmed by invaders who have no legal standing inside the United States. They’re tired of the economic devastation illegal aliens have on our healthcare and education systems. They’re tired of the federal government’s “catch and release” program when it comes to OTMs (Other Than Mexicans), and fi nally they’re just tired of the gross disrespect for private property rights and the lack of interest by the politicians.
As a result, more and more quiet militias are forming for the protection of the border neighborhood. Some of the groups are well trained with many of them being active duty law enforcement, military reservists and combat veterans. They’ve decided to thumb their noses at the politicians and the Morris Dees of the world and to use anonymity as their protection against the “civil rights” profit mongers and liberal courts. Supported by their own brand of special interest money from wealthy donors, they utilize private surveillance aircraft, advanced radio communication techniques, night vision and military tactics to “take the fi ght to the enemy” as one border militiaman put it. Some of the better-organized groups also employ weaponry such as .50 caliber sniper systems for use against armed criminal border crossers and their vehicles. Rumor has it a .50 has already been used to disable a Mexican military vehicle which intentionally crossed into the United States. Membership recruitment is usually through trusted associates within their network. Most of them want no publicity, opting instead to do a several-day mission on the border then return to their day jobs.
The big question is whether this rise in militarization is working. From the landowners and border operatives I’ve worked with, I can see a difference. It doesn’t take long for word to fi lter back across the border about the areas that are heavily protected or fortifi ed. As the landowners and ranchers become better organized under this “neighborhood watch on steroids,” the smugglers and coyotes are being forced to new locations to bring their loads into the United States.
In one area, a private border group has been able to secure permission to operate on fi fteen miles of private border property. Within this permanent area of operation they have installed radio repeaters, built an extensive communications network, and are actively training landowners and volunteers how to secure their property and protect themselves. Even though the seat shiners inside the Washington offi ces won’t admit it, these border groups operating legally on private lands have effectively freed up Border Patrol agents to work in other areas. What’s even more ironic is these border groups are often better trained and better experienced than the offi cial law enforcement agencies assigned to work border details.
The citizen patrols I worked with are not trigger-happy rednecks as the leftwingers would have you believe. In fact, the last thing they want is to be in a fi refi ght with anyone on the border. A major fi refi ght with the Mexican military or smugglers would cause tremendous political fallout, thus increasing tensions between Mexico and the United States. It is commonly known that the Mexican military assists the smugglers and border crossers and has been training for just such a confl ict with border watch groups.
Landowners report that the Mexican military commonly violates the U.S. border by vehicle, on foot and by helicopter. These incursions seem to be intimidation tactics directed at landowners who have caused problems for smugglers and/or illegal aliens crossing Americans’ property. The ultimate fi x would be to put the National Guard on the border and to privatize certain sections of border security, but the U.S. government continues to claim such incursions don’t even happen.
There is a rumor going around that privatization is being discussed, but in the meantime American citizens are still being shot at, raped and mugged by illegal aliens—and the drugs and potential terrorists are still crossing into our country every day.