American Rancher X, Part 2
View of spot, halfway up hill, where we interviewed American Rancher X
Previously: American Rancher X, Part 1
"I don't need you here, stirring up trouble, especially by shooting. The cartels shot at two people on my land last year. A surveyor and another guy. Right over that hill." He was referring to the one we had just doubled-back over.
"A surveyor? Like a government surveyor?"
"Damn. What the fuck was he doing that they shot at him? He's just a fucking surveyor."
"Well, he was surveying. Doing his job."
I responded with the "You've got to be kidding me." look you'd expect.
"This is their corridor, where they move everything. Drugs, money, wetbacks. They'll shoot at anybody. Like I said, if you look like you're hunting around, looking to interfere with their business, steal their stuff, nab wetbacks, whatever, they'll shoot you."
As he clarified later, he was describing the corridor between Sasabe and Nogales.
"Nobody can go out and do any work on this ranch alone. You always have to go out in pairs. And no one drives down the road you just did, it's too dangerous."
I began surveying the land around us, myself.
"There's a dead body that's been laying out over past that hill, too, for awhile now."
Grizz and I looked at each other, and then he spoke up again, this time asking a key question: "How do you see all this ending, X?"
"There's a bloodbath coming, and everybody knows it."
Like cross-hairs on a guided missile system, my mind again locked onto Ramadi, and onto just how wrong it was that this man's home had degenerated to the point where the two places bore comparison. His birthright as an American certainly wasn't this, anymore than anyone who fought in Iraq deserved to come home to an America that was being steered by its leadership into this.
"They're very well organized. They have houses all along the area right there. They watch everything from the hills all day and all night. They'll camp out for days. Just sit and watch."
"How long have you lived here?"
"It started as my dad's ranch, 41 years ago."
"Is he still alive?"
"Has it been bad for awhile?"
"Yeah, but not like this. And keep in mind, it's not like I can call the cops and they'll be here in minutes. We're alone out here. No phone lines. And I can't even get fuel delivered anymore."
"One day, out of the blue, a helicopter full of Mexicans, wearing all black with black ski masks, swooped down on my fuel delivery truck and my family. They got out and started asking the driver questions. They laid my family out, and started asking us questions, too. Pretty quick they realized they were on the wrong side of the border, and left. They're trying to starve out the ranchers on the other side, and take over. The driver, the company, it was just too much for them, of course, and they won't come back. I have to go and get the fuel and haul it back myself, now."
"Jesus, that's crazy. A fucking helicopter?"
"Yup. Like I said, it's going to end up a pretty bloody bloodbath. They have helicopters, .50 caliber machine guns, night vision, everything. And they're paranoid, because they're in constant battle with each other, as well. Another day, there was a shootout on the other side of the fence, between Sicarios, hitmen, and the Chihuahuas. One side shot up the others truck with their helicopter. There were 11 people dead when it was all over. "
"So they're fighting each other over the land right on the other side of your fence?"
"Yeah. And they're always having to watch their back for whoever's coming up next. There's newcomers coming up all the time."
"Where's the Border Patrol in all of this?"
"Too far back from the border, and often asleep, literally. I finally had to tell them that I was going to report them if I caught them asleep in their vehicles again."
"You're shitting me."
"No, I walk right up to the windows of their trucks, and knock to wake them up. I told them last time, 'If I catch you sleeping again, I'm going to turn you in to my congressman.' They do a cut when they first get on shift, then just sit waiting for sensors to go off. They're not working the border."
"And you say they don't operate close enough to it?"
"No, they just don't get right up on it. They're way too far back. And the new towers, they're way too fucking far back, too. They're worthless because the radar can't see through the bushes.. The cartels run roughshod over this whole operation. And the guys that run those towers , EODT, they're idiots. And they're dangerous, like the BP often are. They cause all sorts of traffic problems. They fly down the road like maniacs, and they'll just park in the middle of the road at night, no lights on. They almost killed my wife. One of their vehicles slammed right into hers. And then she got into another accident because of them. The sheriff told me that there was nothing he could do, because the BP have final jurisdiction over the roads, which just doesn't seem correct to me. They're feds, he's the sheriff, this is his jurisdiction. I called the Department of Safety, and they said they couldn't do anything either, same reason. So I called my congresswoman, Gabrielle Gifford, and she never called back. I called the senior officers for the BP Tucson Center, Brian Brown and Roger San Martin, who I know personally, and left a message for each that I wanted a meeting. I left the specific officer's name and unit. Nothing. Anyway, after a long haul, basically because the BP at least have really good internal affairs, I was finally compensated for one of the accidents. And then I just let the other one go."
"Man, I'm sorry to hear that. Was your wife okay?"
He was quiet for a minute.
"It was a bad year. But yeah, because the towers can't get the job done, the BP still rely mostly on the sensors, and people. And those towers bring up another issue."
He suddenly just stopped. It was obvious he was hesitating about passing on some live wire piece of information.
"Well....a BP agent sold the maps of their locations to the cartels."
"Whose your source on this?"
He gave me a smirking, "Don't be a dumbass" look.
"You have a source in the BP. A reliable one, that you trust 100%."
He gave me a confirming look, and a slight nod.
"Goddamn. Is there all kinds of corruption? Is it widespread?"
"I don't know, I can't tell you all that, but I can tell you about that incident." After a few beats, he added, "Look, there are Border Patrol agents that sell out. That's all I'm gonna say."
"That's just so fucked up. My biggest concern is about just how many of our own people, from BP, to cops, to judges, government lawyers, politicians, how many of them are compromised, either by threat or by pay-off? As we're beginning to operate down here, I'm more concerned about being betrayed by someone on our own side, you know, dropping a dime on us to cartel guys, then I am about getting shot standing in a place like this. I'm wary of everybody, because there's just no way to tell who I can trust. I mean, it's how they operate in Mexico, they just buy everyone off that they can."
"There's something weird going on down here."
"What do you mean?"
"There's something weird going on with the government down here. Why aren't they doing anything? Why are the cartels acting with immunity in Arizona?"
"You think there's collusion? You think the government - the local, the feds, whoever - are making money off of all this? You think they're trying to facilitate an influx of Democrat voters?"
He gave me looks indicating a probable "yes" to all of my conjectured scenarios.
"You tell me. To a degree, they don't want to spark an incident, that's part of it. It's bullshit, because that leaves everyone scared to do anything. And that leaves people like me, in mortal jeopardy. It leaves the whole country in jeopardy. I've told the BP, 'It's you guys who are doing this to our country. You guys who are messing it up. You are the front line guys, do your job, or get out."
Once again, a portentious silence followed another one of X's portentious statements.
"This used to be a small sector for the BP, and they used to do their job. The BP old timers were good, they did their jobs, but they're being forced out for that very reason. Retired early. Chief Aguilar, the last national head of the BP was a big part of the problem. He wasn't worth a shit when he was the Tucson chief, and he wasn't worth a shit as the national chief. He was so un-aggressive, he was like an appeaser. The BP was just not worth a damn under Aguilar. He's said flat out, implying that the situation was beyond his control, that this sector, my ranch, my home, is a third world country. I was hoping Mike Fisher, the new chief would be better, but I'm not seeing any real changes."
"And they're scared to death to go into a large corner of my ranch. It's a potential death zone. The cartels have had wetbacks light two different fires for them back there, as a diversion tactic. They want to do something big, smuggle something big over at a different spot, and they have these wetbacks light fires. One time, it was the BP themselves who told them to light it. The wetbacks called the BP and told them they were lost, and needed help. So the fuckin' BP tells them to light the brush on fire so they can find them. And then I have to pay for the damage."
He turned sideways and pointed to a large hill, northwest of us, on the American side.
"And when the National Guard was here a few years ago, right up there, they did nothing. It was ridiculous, a complete waste, They set up a camp on the hill above our house, without bullets, and did nothing but stare at us all day long. Stare at my wife with binoculars."
"They weren't allowed to have bullets?'
I put forth a theory to him. "I think these cartels are insurgents, really. I see what they do, and it's the same shit that was done in Iraq, with a different motive. In Iraq, it was an ideologically-driven insurgency, an ideologically-driven attempt to replace the state. This insurgency here, it's money-driven. Because these cartels need to operate without the state shutting down their activities, they also need to replace it , or at least control it as much as possible. So they do this by intimidating, bribing, and killing politicians, judges, cops, the military, journalists, and even the citizens. They wage a war. Mexico's President said the very same thing in an interview with the L.A. Times a few weeks ago. He flat out said "We have to no longer view this as a criminal enterprise, but as an attempt to replace the state." And these fuckers are so crazy, so driven by greed, that there's no way a little thing like a borderline is going to stop them. So they are importing this insurgency right into our country. And they've been so successful in Mexico, defeating Mexican military units on the open battlefield, controlling huge swaths of the country, that their success has made them think they can pull it off here. This is why they have hits out on Sheriffs Arpaio and Babeu. And why not? They've succeeded at it so far. Do you think that this process, this insurgency, has migrated northward into our own country? Do you think that's what's happening?"
"You bet it is. And anyone who doesn't believe it, is a fool."
He brought up the closest town, Arivaca, population less than 2,000, inhabited largely by Mexicans and 60's hippies who founded a commune there, and their offspring.
"Look at Arivaca. The white hippies, they're leftists still playing revolutionaries. Many of them provide drop houses for the cartels and..."
"Do any of them get caught for it?"
"Not that I've heard of. And I know that town well."
"How in the fuck in a town of less than 2,000 people, where everybody knows everybody, do the sheriffs not know about dozens of drop houses, and therefor not arrest anybody? That's just not possible, unless they're being paid off, or are too scared to act."
He looked at me with the slyest of grins. "You tell me."
"I just spent the morning in the one cantina there, it's like, the oldest operating saloon in Arizona or some shit."
"You're lucky you didn't get made and followed", he said, "because that's the cartel's main hangout in town. The other one is the bar on the hill."
"Like I said, I guess I'm going to have to watch my back everywhere, because I can't trust anybody, can I?"
"You bet. Yes you are".
We spoke a bit more. He requested anonymity, although he noted that with the details he'd given me, many people were going to know who he was. "Fuck it", he said, "I'm tired of keeping this all quiet, of not standing up. It's gone too far, and something has to be done. We have to commit fully, and fight. In fact, you know what you should do, you should sit down with all the ranchers in the area, and do a massive interview."
"Can you put that together for me?"
"I can talk to them, and see. But I think they'll do it."
We parted company. I left much wiser, I thought, sobered and educated to the fact that being in America no longer necessarily meant not being on the front lines of a true war. I was disturbed, perplexed, at how I had left Iraq to come home and find myself battling what was materially a carbon-copy insurgency. And I now carried the deepest of concerns for X, his family, and all the other ranchers in the corridor. They lived in a war zone, flat out.
The next day, I stayed behind to do administrative work in the SAFE office. SAFE, (Secure America Forever) is the information operations, political operations, citizen patrol (militia) operations, and legal operations organization that I founded to protect the southern border. The last few days in the field were the start-up of our militia activities. Grizz and Reloader went out on a scout, however, and returned that night. They were very excited about having gotten a similar download from a near-renegade Border Patrol agent, one of the old-timers that X had told us the BP was pushing out. But they were also somber, there was something they were kind of dancing around, I could tell. And then, when there was nothing left but one thing to report, they said, “BP Agent X knows Rancher X. He said we must have gotten him on a good day. He said he has good days and bad days. He said he agreed with Rancher X's prognostication about the coming bloodbath, and so did Rancher X's son, and he killed himself over it, last year."