Report paints border of fear all along Texas, if you don’t count El Paso and you do count anonymous anecdotes
These are just a few highlights. Read the whole thing.
If you want to understand the fear and threats of spillover violence in Texas border cities, talk to the people who live there — unless they are from El Paso, the co-author of a new border security report suggested on Monday.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a military historian and strategist, joined Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in the release of a state-commissioned report that compares living and conducting business in Texas border counties to war zones.
Scales said observers cannot rely too heavily on FBI crime statistics that indicate border communities are among the safest in the nation because statistics lag behind the real-time anecdotes that can be provided by border sheriffs, ranchers, farmers, and businessmen. He said it is border residents who can attest to how Mexican drug cartel violence is affecting their livelihood in Texas.
But Scales then scoffed at statements from El Paso political leaders and authorities who say that the ongoing violence in its sister city of Juárez has not spilled over and that the majority of people in the state’s largest border city feel safe.
U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, said the report, which was commissioned at the request of the Texas Legislature, is sensationalistic, out-of-touch and politically motivated. He said the claim that drug cartels will seek refuge in the United States because of the increased effectiveness of Mexican federal authorities is ludicrous.
“Oh, yeah right, right because we have less capability than the Mexican government,” Reyes said sarcastically.
Reyes, a former Border Patrol chief, said Mexican drug cartels know better than to let violence spill over into U.S. border cities because they do not want to draw the ire of the federal government.
Reyes argues that the report is motivated by Gov. Rick Perry’s political agenda.
Scales said journalists should “focus on state and local, rather than federal sources of information.”
“I did this on my own,” Scales said. “I went and talked to folks starting in Austin and moving south and I had a completely different view of the border situation than I got from going to a press conference in El Paso.”
Scales later said he has only visited El Paso twice to go to Fort Bliss and that he focused most of his efforts on Laredo, Brownsville, Hidalgo County and “a few other places that we visited.”
When asked to provide facts to substantiate his statement about hundreds of deaths in Texas, McCaffrey deferred to Michael Vickers, a veterinarian who Perry appointed this month to the Texas Animal Health Commission. Vickers chairs the Texas Border Volunteers, a group that conducts patrols of private property and reports illegal immigration to the border patrol.
Vickers, who lives about 70 miles away from the border in Brooks County, said about 500 people who sought help from coyotes, or human smugglers, to enter the country have been found dead on private property in his county since 2005. He had no official proof to support the claim.
Here’s another article on the same subject, adding more quotations from retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey.
‘The situation on the border has gotten worse, it’s going to get worse in the coming years,’ said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, a four-star general who also served as President Bill Clinton’s Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. ‘We are facing a Mexican election in which the next administration, if faced with inadequate U.S. support … could come to an agreement with the cartels. It would be the end of the rule of law in Mexico if it took place.’
McCaffrey made the dire assessment during a news conference convened by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who rolled out the results of a four-month study called “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment.”
McCaffrey differs with Commissioner Staples on some issues, such as reporting multiple gun sales.
McCaffrey said it was essential to report multiple weapons sales, especially if it dealt with AK-47s and similar weapons.
‘Half of us in the country are armed. Five percent of us are nut jobs, there is a tremendous flow of weapons south of the United States in to Mexico,’ he said. ‘I say that as someone with a concealed gun permit. And I’ve got enough ammunition and guns in my place that if the place ever caught in fire it’d be cooking off for three days. Of course we ought to require people to report the purchase of an AK-47, particularly is if it is multiple buyers.’ [emphasis added]
This article also includes more information on how Staples collected his anonymous, anecdotal information.
…Staples received heavy criticism this year when his office launched a website, protectyourtexasborder.com, that asked farmers and ranchers on the border to post true stories about the daily threats they encounter. The website’s comments section soon included calls for vigilantism, but was modified to exclude such comments after Staples’ office was made aware of them.
Last week, a Congressional Hearing was held in Brownsville on the same topic. Staples was there.
…Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said stories like these are threatening an industry producing $700 million worth of fruits, vegetables and beef every year.
“We don’t like being dependent on foreign oil. We can’t become dependent on foreign food,” said Staples. “When we have farmers that are chased off their own land, when we have land owners that are abandoning their agricultural enterprises, that threatens us.”
Staples was one of several people testifying during a Congressional hearing on border violence held in Brownsville.
A Special Ranger with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Roland Garcia, also testified there were 978 agricultural thefts last year for a total of $3.6 million worth of stolen property.
“Information provided by confidential sources in Mexico add that livestock and agricultural equipment thefts occurring throughout the state make their way to Mexico, and these thefts are often used in trade for the purchase of drugs to fund violent gangs such a Zetas,” wrote Garcia in a prepared statement to the panel.
“If they admitted that it’s a problem, border security is a problem, then the federal government would actually have to do something about it,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, who led the hearing.
I have a hard time believing Zetas are trading drugs for livestock and tractors. Too bad the sources for that information are “confidential”.
Vickers was interviewed for the article about the Brownsville hearing, but I can’t tell whether he was at the hearing. There’s video at the link.
…Dressed in camouflaged fatigues with a pistol at his side Dr. Mike Vickers drives across a 1,000 acre ranch he says has become a battleground
“We know every time we walk out our front door, or back door, we’re putting our lives in danger,” said Vickers.
“You feel you have to carry a gun just to be on your own property?” asked Local 2 investigator Robert Arnold.
“Well, you’re putting your life in danger if you don’t,” said Vickers.
Vickers’ ranch is 60 miles from Texas’ border with Mexico in Brooks County. The trails and brush on the property are well-traveled territory for drug and human smugglers.
“The criminal activity in this county is as bad as it’s ever been,” said Vickers. “The dead bodies continue to show up.”
Vickers is the chairman of Texas Border Volunteers, a 300-member organization that helps law enforcement spot drugs and illegal immigrants crossing through the farms and ranches lining the border.
“I had five come at me with fence posts and tried to take my truck away from me,” said Vickers. “We’re not going to be intimidated off our land like a lot of our friends have.”
I would post more about the Texas Border Volunteers, but it’s at Stormfront, Free Republic, and places like that. Here’s their own webpage of links. Obviously they like the John Tanton founded hate groups FAIR and NumbersUSA. SPLC only had partial quotes from dead links about the Texas Border Volunteers, as far as I could find.
Remember, information from El Paso, which has five or more bridges connecting it to Juarez, doesn’t count.