Sheriff Tells Border Towns to Start Arming Themselves
By Pat Shannan
Along our southern border, concerns are growing that the escalating drug violence in Mexico will spill into the United States; and for many, on both sides of the border, the fear is very real.
Last week, residents held a town-hall meeting in Fort Hancock, Texas—a sleepy agricultural village on the border, about an hour southeast of El Paso. A couple hundred people crowded into the grade-school gym to hear a chilling message from Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West. “You farmers, I’m telling you right now: Arm yourselves,” he said. “It’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six; and I don’t want to see six people carrying you.”
On the last Saturday night in March, a well-known rancher was murdered in southeastern Arizona. Authorities suspect an illegal immigrant killed Robert Krentz, 58, without provocation, and escaped back into Mexico.
“We know this,” said Cochise County, Arizona sheriff Larry Dever at a news briefing: “Robert was shot. His dog was shot. He was in an all-terrain vehicle, and he never got out of the vehicle. There is absolutely no reason this had to happen other than the bad intentions of one sick, sorry individual that we hope to be able to catch up to very quickly.”
Krentz was a popular, third-generation rancher who was inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame one year ago and had served as president of the Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers Association.
Minutemen member and friend Chris Simcox said the news of Krentz’s death was unsettling, but not surprising.
“There’s a war going on in Mexico, and it’s spilling across our borders,” Simcox said the morning after the murder. “He’s been working with Border Patrol for years, begging and pleading for help with his property being vandalized and his home being robbed.
“And he’s always been a humanitarian,” Simcox continued. “He always gives water and food to the people he finds in distress, which seems to have been the case last night; and he called his wife and said he was giving some water to illegals and said to call Border Patrol.”
The warning by Texas Sheriff West was prompted by the killing of the Arizona rancher, and the spiraling violence a couple of miles away in Mexico in a region known as the Valley of Juarez. The notorious smuggling territory is being fought over by the Sinaloa and the Juarez cartels.
TROOPS TO THE BORDER
The murder prompted governors in New Mexico and Texas to send forces to the border. The following week, the Mexican government sent dozens of police and soldiers to the Juarez Valley to restore order on the Mexican side.
“One of the men that works for me had five people killed in front of his house over there [in Mexico] this past weekend,” said Curtis Carr, who is a Texas farmer and county commissioner. “And he’s moving his family over here this week. It’s serious over there. Whether or not it’s gonna spill over here, nobody knows.”
The sheriff warned citizens to be alert and report strange vehicles on their streets, but at the same time not to succumb to fear.
The violence in the Juarez Valley directly affects this little Texas town.
In March, gunmen in the Juarez Valley killed the Mexican relative of a Fort Hancock high school student. When the student’s family in Fort Hancock heard about it, they crossed the border at 10 a.m. to see the body, and took the student with them.
“By 10:30, they had stabbed the relatives that went with him, which included his grandparents, with an ice pick,” says school superintendent Jose Franco. “My understanding is that the gentleman is 90 years old, and they poked his eyes out with an ice pick.”
The Valley of Juarez has a long history of human and drug trafficking and is close to the city of Juarez, a major smuggling point. It’s right across from Texas, with Interstate 10 only a few miles to the north and with the Rio Grande River, only ankle deep in many places, being no deterrent.
More than 50 people were killed in the Juarez Valley in March.
“You can literally walk across the river—and some times of the year not even get wet,” veteran Border Patrol agent Joe Romero says. “With the ease with which you can literally cross the border here from one side to the other, this makes it very lucrative and appealing to anybody trying to smuggle in whatever contraband they have.”
Pat Shannan is the assistant editor of American Free Press. He is also the author of several videos and books including One in a Million: An IRS Travesty and I Rode With Tupper, detailing Shannan’s experiences with Tupper Saussy when the American dissident was on the run in the 1980s. Both are available from FIRST AMENDMENT BOOKS for $25 each.
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(Issue # 17, April 26, 2010)