Borderlands Rancher Reports Welcome Calm

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on August 13, 2010

There's good news from John Ladd, the central figure in the "Gaming the Border" video we posted this week. Illegal traffic through his ranch on the Arizona-Mexico border is way down, Ladd said today by telephone. "Come Sunday, it'll be two weeks since I saw any groups on the ranch," he said. "It has been dramatically slow."

A range of possible explanations for the slowdown seems plausible.

Some in Cochise County say the drug cartels who control smuggling corridors for both humans and drugs are more interested in moving the latter right now and know that a flow of illegal immigrants will draw the Border Patrol.

Or maybe the intense Mexican news coverage of Arizona's controversial new anti-illegal immigration law has kicked in, even though a federal judge ruled major parts of the law out of bounds. News reports on immigration policy are often over-heated in Mexico, and then the rumor mill frequently distorts the news in scary ways.

Ladd says he's impressed with the mobile radar unit that oversees much of his ranch from a perch in the Mule Mountains. Border Patrol agents and local residents are enthusiastic about the technology, which can pinpoint individuals or groups and which is being increasingly applied along the border.

Of course, there is the possibility of a seasonal lull, although Ladd says previous Augusts have seen more traffic than is coming through now.

And finally, news accounts of heavy illegal flows through Ladd's ranch, which occupies about ten miles of the border, from just west of the town of Naco to the San Pedro River, have certainly caught the eye of the Border Patrol.

Said Ladd, "Whatever the reason is, I'm pretty happy about it."