Babeu Defends Himself for Remarks He Made Blaming Cartels for What Turned Out to Be a Murder-Suicide
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Responding to critics who say he was too quick to blame drug smugglers for the deaths of five people found in a burned-out SUV last weekend, an Arizona sheriff said Wednesday that he was merely sharing timely information about the case and never formally concluded that the deaths were the work of a cartel.
“There were no conclusions given. … There was no pronouncement,” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told The Associated Press in his first comments since evidence surfaced suggesting the deaths may have been a murder-suicide, not cartel violence.
Babeu lashed out at critics who say that he was trying to use the case to appear tough on immigration ahead of his November bid for re-election and that he should have waited until his office had confirmation before saying a cartel likely was responsible.
On Monday, Babeu posted on his Facebook page: “All information is pointing that this is connected to the violent drug cartel smuggling in this high smuggling area.”
“The border is NOT more secure than ever Ms. Napolitano!” he added, in reference to previous statements made by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
In an interview with the AP later that day, Babeu said that “if this is in fact connected to the cartels, and we absolutely prove it, this should be a warning to our country” and “should send a shock wave that this could happen here.”
As this AZStarnet blog post shows, it’s not the first time that Babeu has engaged in fear-mongering about the border, only for further investigation to undermine his claim.