Militia Groups Along the Border Continue to Spark Controversy

AP Photo
Greg Bryan/Arizona Daily Star Via AP

Groups of gunmen are patrolling the border in an effort to “secure” the land that Washington officials will not. The groups, known as militias, have been around for some time and in recent years the various groups have become more noticeable as the topic of border security becomes more heated. Generally militia groups patrol specific areas of the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to detain or turn back human smugglers and drug traffickers. Mainstream media outlets generally demonize the groups claiming that they are extremist and racists.

However, in the negative portrayals of militias, news outlets tend to leave out the lawlessness that prevails in Mexico and generally spills-over to the United States as cartel traffickers continue to roam wild.

A recent article by sheds light on one of the militia groups in Arizona called Border Recon. The DailyMail’s article is an aggregate based on a feature story that was published on September 4 by the photography website Feature Shoot.

In that story, the photographer Johnny Milano talks about his project the Hills Of Pima, Arizona. For that project, the artist spent some time in 2014 with Tim “Nailer” Foley and his team from Arizona Border Recon. According to Milano the group is made up of military veterans and security specialists who patrol certain areas where law enforcement presence is sorely lacking.

Foley’s group is also featured on the documentary Cartel Land by Matthew Heinemann. In the film Foley is seen talking about how insecure the border is and how Mexico’s violence is coming over.

While Foley’s groups has been drawing positive attention, the issue of militias along the border has become more and more controversial. Other groups have earned negative attention from mainstream media, especially following the July arrest of three members from another group in Arizona.

As reported in Breitbart Texas, last July three members of a militia ended up behind bars following their indictment of drug charges. The allegations made against those members imply that the group had been stealing drugs and cash from the same cartel drug smugglers and traffickers they had been trying to stop.

In that case, federal authorities arrested Parris Frazier, Robert Deatherage, and Erik Foster on July 22, 2015, following a seven-month investigation. The criminal complaint filed by the FBI in the case states that  “Frazier said he had a small group of Patriots that he trusted and they were trying to take care of (steal) anything that came up out of Mexico (drugs) or was going back into Mexico (bulk cash).”

In the border city of Laredo, Texas, local police arrested a 20-year-old man who claimed to be a member of a Texas militia on weapons charges. Authorities responded to a group of men just feet from the U.S.-Mexico border who appeared suspicious. The 20-year-old, identified as Thomas Rivera, had a rifle, a handgun, mace, a nightstick and a large knife. While open carry of rifles in Texas is legal, open carry of handguns is not yet legal. Since Rivera was not 21 at the time, he could not have a concealed handgun permit. 

In the border city of Brownsville, two members of a militia called Rusty’s Rangers ended up behind bars after being  suspected of being felons in possession of firearms, Breitbart Texas reported. In that particular case, militia members were searching for a group that had just crossed when one militia member named John Foarster bumped into a U.S. Border Patrol. The agent claimed that Foarster pointed a gun at him and fired various shots in return. No one was hurt, however, during the follow up investigation authorities found that both Foarster and his commander Kevin Massey had felony convictions and could not legally possess firearms. Both Foarster and Massey are in federal custody awaiting sentencing. 

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award winning journalist with Breitbart Texas you can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.