Tucson, AZ – “We’re under siege,” said rancher Ed Ashurst, as he pointed to where he had tracked the killer of his friend and neighbor to the U.S.-Mexican 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, Arizona. The southern boundary of his family property is a ten-mile long 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 America.”
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.-Mexican border remains unfinished. According to many level-headed, 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.
Last night, just hours after Mr. and Mrs. Obama and their doting supporters dined on Martha’s Vineyard, our FOX News War Stories team, accompanied by members of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office 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 like the fence worked.”
“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 “Chapo” Guzman – a multi-billionaire who heads the Sinaloa Cartel just across the Arizona border – commands an army of more than 11,000 “shooters” equipped with heavy machine guns, automatic weapons, RPGs 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 the Arizona 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 Qaeda terrorists and Taliban insurgents fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
After one of his deputies was wounded by an AK-47 toting border-crosser, Sheriff 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 now soliciting donations to buy the rifles for them.
Larry Dever is the Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona – at 6,000 square miles, it is larger than the states of Connecticut or Delaware. His jurisdiction is home to Tombstone – scene of the legendary October 26, 1881 Shootout at the OK Corral. It also shares an 82-mile long border with Mexico. Last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 550,000 people were arrested trying to illegally enter the U.S. – nearly half of whom crossed the border in the “Tucson Sector” – which includes Cochise County. Yet, Sheriff Dever has fewer than 90 sworn deputies.
After Cochise County rancher Bob Krantz was murdered by an illegal border jumper on March 27th of this year, the Obama administration promised to deploy 1,200 National Guardsmen 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 county sheriffs. The money all goes to federal agencies.
Instead of new weapons, reinforcements and help protecting our southern border, Arizona’s sheriffs and Governor 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.” Since we arrived here, a mass grave containing the remains of more than 70 murdered men, women and children from Central and South American countries 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.
Meanwhile, the president who insinuated himself in a local police matter in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a zoning matter for a mosque in Manhattan has been too busy to send condolences to Sue Krantz, the widow of an American murdered by a foreign criminal on U.S. soil.