The Corner

Arizona Sheriff Says Mexican Cartels Now Control Some Parts of the State

UPDATED

The Washington Times reports that the state of Arizona has essentially ceded parts of the southern border to Mexican drug cartels in what — we hope — is a tactical retreat:

The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state.

The signs were posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, a major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego.

They warn travelers that they are entering an “active drug and human smuggling area” and they may encounter “armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.” Beginning less than 50 miles south of Phoenix, the signs encourage travelers to “use public lands north of Interstate 8″ and to call 911 if they “see suspicious activity.”

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose county lies at the center of major drug and alien smuggling routes to Phoenix and cities east and west, attests to the violence. He said his deputies are outmanned and outgunned by drug traffickers in the rough-hewn desert stretches of his own county.

“Mexican drug cartels literally do control parts of Arizona,” he said. “They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, they have optics, they have night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has.

And blogger the Hyacinth Girl has experienced the warnings firsthand:

On a recent trip to Phoenix, I pulled off the I-8 to let the dogs out and let the kid get her wiggles out. I’d stopped at this place before; it has some abandoned buildings I like to look at. About ten minutes after I’d stopped, a sheriff’s SUV pulled up and a very nice lady sheriff asked me politely but with some urgency if I could gather my wayward puppies and child and leave immediately.

I asked her why, as I’m pretty familiar with Arizona and the freedom within its borders. She explained that it was too close to sunset for us to be on that particular side of the freeway, as the drug and human traffickers would be out very soon. “They’ll shoot you if they don’t know you,” she said, “Even if you’re just here with you kid and obviously not a threat.”

Needless to say, I gathered everyone, and even though Mr. HG needed some convincing on account of his problems with authority, we got out of there posthaste.

But hey, at least they didn’t ask her for her identification or something.

Two months ago, Arizona governor Jan Brewer cut a campaign ad standing in front of one of the warning signs, calling on President Obama to “do your job” to secure the border:

 

Well, the Obama administration is doing something. Namely, suing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for failing to turn over documents as part of a DOJ inquiry into whether Arpaio’s intense illegal-immigration operations were discriminatory toward Hispanics.

 

Our own Deroy Murdock had the scoop on a lot of what’s in the Times article all the way back in mid-July, giving a great — if chilling — bird’s eye portrait of the lawless border region.

Daniel FosterDaniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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