Our Unsecure Border: More Evidence from the Coronado National Forest in Arizona

By Janice Kephart on December 2, 2009

Our borders are not secure, despite claims to the contrary by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. And she and others have linked their case for "comprehensive immigration reform" to such security.

A federal government internal incident report obtained from the Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service and a news story from Nogales, Ariz., dated December 1, 2009, are indicators that our borders are far from secure -- direct from those who live and work on the border. This is especially true in Arizona, the home state of Secretary Napolitano, where the southeast corner of the state is covered by 60 miles of Forest Service federal land known as the Coronado National Forest, which remains downright dangerous.

During the same time our "Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border" video was being finalized in June 2009, showing the extent of illegal alien traffic and environmental devastation due to the trekking of illegals on illegal trails through the Coronado, a previously unreported violent incident erupted involving government personnel.

On June 14, 2009, two Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife employees and a local Arizona employee received a spray of bullets from at least four Hispanic males dressed in camouflage about 10 miles north of the Mexican border in the southwest corner of the Coronado National Forest. The government employees fled on quads (four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles) and found safety. A later investigation indicated they may have received more gunfire as they were fleeing the area. The Border Patrol did respond, but it was too late. The armed men had fled and were not found.

Below is the original incident report (click here for a map of the area in question):

Subject: AGFD Border Incident Thursday

Date: Sunday, June 14, 2009, 4:05 PM

This happened right near a water station that the "No More Deaths People" put out.
Subject: Border Incident Yesterday in Region V


This is a short recap about the incident yesterday in Region V during which two of our employees (Mark Frieberg and Matt Walton) along with a Pima County employee (Joe Kellner) came under gun fire from what appeared to be drug traffickers from south of the border.

About mid afternoon our people were on three quads in the Tumacacori Mountains doing recon for an access project with Pima County south of Bear Grass Tank about four miles due east of Arivaca Lake. In a small canyon area through which the road they were on traversed they came upon at close quarters and surprised a group of hispanic males (at least 4) dressed in camo who were in the immediate vicinity [of] water jugs left by the "No More Deaths" organization. (This organization has recently been successfully prosecuted for their water jug distribution activities under the littering laws on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge; and now their activities have directly put our people at risk as well).

Upon the initial sighting of the first two camo clad persons who immediately fled a short distance up a hill from the area dropping down into the grass our people backed out of the immediate vicinity and regrouped. After a few minutes [agent one] crept up to small rise about 30 yards from the road to look over the scene with his binoculars; he observed another 2 hispanic males also in camo in the area but over in a different direction from the first two. At that point [agent one] started back down to the quads and a shot was heard coming from the direction where the first two suspects had fled. The bullet impacted the ground within ten feet or so behind [agent one]. At that point, with two of the quads with drivers and already pointed in the necessary exit direction, [agent one] ran and jumped on the back of the quad with Joe as the driver; [agent two] was on the other quad. Both quads with our three people quickly and immediately departed the area heading back to high ground closer to Arivaca to make contact with radio.

Once in contact with dispatch, we called in Border Patrol, Pima County SO and DPS Ranger to the area to join up with our people and take care of the situation. Within 30 to 45 minutes approximately 15 – 20 BP, 15 – 20 SO, and three helicopters were in the area to handle and investigate the situation. Subsequently, and unfortunately, the suspects were able to evade the search party, however SO as the lead for the investigation, did recover several fresh shot 9mm casings from the area where the initial shot likely came from, indicating that subsequent shots may have been fired at our people as they were getting out of the area. The third quad was recovered and had not been touched by the suspects.

I am glad to say that [the three agents] made all of the right decisions and moves when things went bad, and most importantly, they ended the day safe and sound.

Supervisor, Arizona Game and Fish Department

And then on December 1, 2009, an illegal alien was found dead by a hunter. The victim was an unknown Mexican national with gunshots in both legs (a tourniquet on one leg) and a shot to the head.

Another illegal man, who also had received gunshots in the leg and walked over an hour to seek help at a private residence, was reported and medevac'd on November 21, 2009. Both the dead victim and the wounded illegal were about 15 miles north of the main north-south highway crossing the Mexican border, I-19.

The story below, which also ran yesterday in the Nogales paper, documents the extent of violence proliferating on our borders. Whether the victims are illegals or government agents, the story describes a situation of escalating lawlessness bred by lack of control over our borders.

None of these incidents suggests that our borders are secure, especially where there is no infrastructure to stop the continued surge of drug and alien trafficking, and the environmental destruction and violence that attends it.

Assaults on undocumented migrants continue in county

By Denise Holley

Published Tuesday, December 1, 2009 9:44 AM MST

A man bleeding from two bullet holes in his leg knocked on the door of a home near the end of Peck Canyon Drive about 9:46 p.m. Nov. 21, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

The man, an undocumented Mexican national, told deputies that assailants dressed in black with automatic weapons accosted him and his traveling companions, said Communications Officer Javier De La Ossa. After the man was shot in a canyon west of the road's end, he limped for about an hour to reach the house.

Deputies and medical personnel from the Tubac Fire District called a helicopter to airlift the man to University Medical Center in Tucson.

On Nov. 19, deputies found three Mexican nationals on the access road off the Palo Parado exit from Interstate 19, De La Ossa said. The men said they had been robbed at knifepoint in a mountainous area.

Two more undocumented migrants from Mexico reported a robbery Nov. 23 after deputies picked them up as they walked south on I-19 near the Peck Canyon exit, De La Ossa said.

The men described a location that deputies believed was the Lochiel area of the San Rafael Valley. Their assailants wore dark clothes and ski masks and carried automatic weapons, De La Ossa said. After taking the report, deputies turned the men over to the Border Patrol.

A total of 43 individuals have reported armed robberies in the back country of Santa Cruz County since Jan. 1, Sheriff Antonio Estrada told county supervisors on Nov. 25. This did not include victims of sexual assaults.

"They're very difficult cases to pursue," Estrada said. "We run into dead ends."

Victims usually cannot provide much information about the bandits and can't pinpoint the location of the alleged crime, he said.

Sometimes Border Patrol will send out its special response team (SRT) to hunt for assailants reported in a particular area, said Omar Candelaria, special operations supervisor for the Tucson Sector.

"But it's rare that we find people (victims) a few minutes after the incident," he said. It might be a day or two before Border Patrol apprehends the migrants and by then, the trail is cold.