New Mexico Border Ranchers Fear Alerting Police to Drug Smugglers

Inadequate border fencing along New Mexico Border brings fear to area ranchers. (File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)
File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

New Mexico ranchers and other residents along unsecured sections of the state’s border with Mexico claim fear of retaliation if they report crimes like drug or human smuggling. Residents of the region known as the “Bootheel” witnessed increases in both drug and human smuggling during the past few months.

The residents of this sparsely populated area of the New Mexico-Mexico border say they are reluctant to report crimes they witness to local and federal law enforcement because of the possibility of retaliation from the Mexican cartel-connected smugglers. Ranchers and others in the area told the Washington Examiner they witness drug and human smuggling on a regular basis and some have faced blowback after reporting incidents to authorities.

“I turned in 700 pounds [of marijuana] up here … I called it in [to Border Patrol]. They went and got it. That night, they [smugglers] came back. They … broke off all the floats off my troughs — chopped ’em up, drained all of it,” New Mexico rancher Billy Darnell told the reporter.

Another rancher in the area, Cammi Moore, lives about 50 miles from the border. She said she is also torn on the idea of reporting crimes she witnesses on a regular basis. “You don’t know whether to call them [suspected criminals] or not, if they are packing ’cause there is retaliation on some families,” Moore stated. She cited the murder of Cochise County, Arizona, rancher Bob Krentz as an example. Moore told KOB4 reporters that she has witnessed smugglers carrying marijuana, cocaine, and “heavy artillery.”

Rancher Kris Massey, a resident of Animas, New Mexico, told the Examiner that retaliation from the smugglers is not a conspiracy theory or a figment of their imagination. “My house is maybe 100 yards from my barn. One time, I found a hand-drawn map that I turned over to the sheriff’s department that listed every … water tank from south all the way to my house. And my barn was marked with a big X. And they even labeled it ‘Massey barn.’ So, they’re pretty informed on what they’re doing. And this is literally on the highway, so you know what they’re doing out here in the pastures, and you find bundles of drugs in your field when you’re harvesting — backpack size,” he explained.

Business owner and Animas resident Tricia Elbrock said cartel spotters frequent the high grounds near her home. She is afraid they will know if she reports their smuggling activities. She said her family members found satellite phones, cell phones, telescopes, and even semi-automatic rifles in the hills near her home.

“Most of those peaks you’ll find batteries, lot of wire, cell phones,” Elbrock continued. “And what they’re doing is they’re spotting for the loads.”

She said her family will not approach anything left on her property because the scouts “could pick us off with a rifle.”

Another rancher who wished to keep her name private told the reporter they stopped reporting smuggling activity after “We found a dead guy eight years ago.”

New Mexico ranchers are becoming more vocal about the crisis along their shared border with Mexico. Many are pleading for help from their state and federal elected officials, all of whom are Democrats who appear to be following the party line on border security.

“We have to get the word out that we have a crisis down here,” a rancher told reporters from KOB 4 Investigates when they visited the border county of Hidalgo, New Mexico. “The worst part of it, we had an employee kidnapped. And that was probably the worst night of my entire life until we got him back.”

“It’s getting to the point where these confrontations are getting more aggressive and more and more violent,” rancher Kris Massey added regarding the current border crisis.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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