Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

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desertwalker
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Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by desertwalker » October 30th, 2010, 8:57 am

I started coming to Az from Alberta back in 1995. Like alot of people who make the pilgrimage to find Arizona herps, I would drive deep into the desert and camp without a soul around for miles. At times only a stones throw away from the Mexican border, I would hike all day leaving my vehicle and camping supplies completely unattended and I never once was afraid of having anything stolen or encountering drug smugglers while I was out there.

This year was different. Having to go through various border guard check points, seeing them totally dismantling a vehicle on the side of the road while 3 Hispanic children watch and their mother is crying. On the outskirts of Ajo one night there were 5 border suv's with lights flashing, spot lights on and a dozen or more guards walking the ditch looking for somebody. I found it hard to sleep while a blimp hovered over my tent when I was camped in the Huachucas.

Is there more danger now than there was 15 years ago? Was Arizona more carefree back then or was it just me? Am I becoming paranoid with all am seeing? I watched a National Geographic show the other night about the Arizona Border. A group of illegal were abandoned by their smugglers in the desert and had to be rescued. They found the two smugglers but I thought what if they didn't? What if these two guys who maybe armed, out of food and water, just barely alive come across me and my wife in the middle of nowhere with expensive camera equipment, new truck roasting weenies on a fire. Now what? I have no weapons to defend myself other than my snake stick. I'm sure this scenario was there 15 years ago but I'm just wondering statistically is there a greater chance of an encounter now than there was then.

By the way, I have my black light to make sure there aren't any scorpions on the ground when setting up my camp in the dark now I'm contemplating getting an infrared video camera to scan the hill sides for illegals before putting up my tent. Because now I get the feeling I'm being watched.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KcwIy_fQuU

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Biker Dave
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Biker Dave » October 30th, 2010, 3:51 pm

Desertwalker

You are right. Things are very different now. Lately the appearance of higher enforcement is more a result of the drug cartel violence in Mexico and S Arizona then curbing the influx of illegal aliens.

There is a large swath of South Central Arizona that the federal government has "abandoned" to the drug cartels. Mostly the Maricopa Mountains south of I-8 into the Vekol Valley. BLM has posted signs warning Americans to stay out as these areas are highly dangerous to be in alone or in a small group unless you are willing to go up against automatic weapons. The town of Ajo is on the western edge of this high activity area.

Dont let the picture of BP dismantling vehicles of women with children pull at your heart strings too much. These vehicles are usually not dismantled unless a drug dog "hits" on the vehicle first. And often times, in this sort of situation, the "legal" family is paid to drive the vehicle that is loaded with contraband over the border to a pickup point where the transfer is made.
Often times the cartels will use the "family" image to try to get drugs through. (I know this because I have friends who are BP and they have told me these things).

Some folks can go to our southern deserts and not have a single encounter while others may have some. Often times, some of our members complain more about the BP speeding down dirt roads. So overall it depends on actual experiences.

I know many folks carry when herping down south while others do not. Once again, personal choice and acceptable safety levels vary.

Don't give up, keep coming down here... just keep your situational awareness higher than before and odds are you will be ok.

Dave Weber

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azatrox
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by azatrox » October 30th, 2010, 10:34 pm

Have things changed? Yes. Above and beyond the Az border, you'll have to look at the ENTIRE US-Mexico border to see why. Used to be, SD was a favorite cross over point...The feds beefed up enforcement there...Same story for Texas. So, what you wind up with is a "funnel effect" into Az.

As far as what this means as far as herping the southern portion of the state....that's up to you. You can listen to all the media reports about how dangerous it is, how many people are killed, yada, yada, yada...or you can do what you've always done. The media has overblown MANY things, and this situation is no different. Is there danger? Sure...Do you have to worry about running into a drug runner every time you turn around? Hardly...

It's similar to going down to Mexico in that respect. By and large, most of the country is safe, yet everyone freaks out when they hear you're going down there because all they know is what they see/hear on the news.

And that's fine as far as I'm concerned. The fewer people I bump into the better.

-Kris

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Natalie McNear
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Natalie McNear » October 30th, 2010, 11:50 pm

Can't speak for the way things were 15 years ago since I just went on my first herping trips there this year, but after seeing the massive amounts of trash left in an otherwise beautiful, unspoiled wilderness and hearing a gunfight break out in a canyon next to me while I'm road cruising at 11:00 PM, I can't really say I disagree with the state's decision to up the amount of BP out there. I occasionally got pulled by the BP over while cruising late at night, but all the officers I dealt with (including the ones at the highway checkpoints) were friendly enough.

Back in April I was cruising a well-known road in Pima County sometime after midnight when a car pulled out of the desert suddenly and began following close behind me. It wasn't a cop, it was some janky SUV-looking thing. Being alone, female, and without a gun or anything, I was pretty freaked out, and I wasn't really sure what to do. Obviously I wasn't going to slow down or stop, but I was considering putting the pedal to the metal and high-tailing it out of there; decided not to do that because if it was me they were after, they would just chase me anyway. I kept driving along at 30 mph (the speed limit was 55 mph so they easily could have passed me if they wanted to), but they just tailgated me for about a mile before suddenly turning back into the desert. All I can say is at that place and time there was not enough BP!

Ironically, earlier that same night I believe I had gotten pulled over by two cop cars for driving suspiciously. They were hiding in some bushes out of sight and I was coming down the road but then made a quick U-turn and started going back the other way... They thought I had spotted them and was trying to get away, but what really happened was that I had seen a DOR critter on the road and was turning back to see what it was. That was pretty funny.

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azatrox
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by azatrox » October 31st, 2010, 3:39 am

Thanks for the input Natalie...

Having herped SE Az ALOT in recent years, I can definitely vouch for the increased presence of BP...Has that made the area safer....Mehhh....that's debatable. I will also echo your sentiments that by and large interactions with BP are non-incidental.

However...

On one of my most recent trips down there, I was pulled over not less than 4 seperate times on the same road by different officers. What aggravated me the most wasn't getting pulled over initially...after all, lonely desert road, the same vehicle going back and forth repeatedly at a slow rate of speed...I get it. What irked me was that I had requested after the first pull over that the officer radio ahead with my plate number so they wouldn't waste their time and I wouldn't waste mine. Apparently BP officers have a phobia of the radio. (At least these officers did.)

I've also been woken up on multiple occasions in a given night with a flashlight beam to the face while camped out on public land. So while I'll agree that most officers are professional, I would not describe my encounters with them as "hassle-free".

As far as the "danger level" in southern Arizona...people get shot on the freeways of California, hit by buses in Detroit and robbed walking their dogs in Kansas...sure there's a danger in southern Arizona...I just happen to think that it's been overblown because immigration is such a hot button political issue right now. If that perception is going to make some people herp elsewhere, then that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Btw- On an unrelated note, I often think that less BP presence down there would make for a much more pleasurable experience, as these guys/gals FLY down the roads there and I can't tell ya how many times I've personally seen them make road burger of snakes, turtles, etc...

-Kris

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by desertwalker » October 31st, 2010, 9:42 am

Thanks for the input everyone. On a brighter note there's a greater chance of finding a back pack full of drug money which would go a long way to buy gas for road cruizin. :lol:
By the way does anyone know how to say in Spanish "DON'T SHOOT, I'M ONLY OUT HERE LOOKING FOR SNAKES!" No they won't believe that. Who goes way out in the desert just to find snakes?

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Chip Cochran
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Chip Cochran » October 31st, 2010, 3:04 pm

There is a difference. Like all government agencies these days they need to provide justification for their budgets. Hyping up the danger in the area is their way to do this. Having spent considerable time on the border in the past 8 years I have noticed no real discernible difference into illegal activity. What I have noticed is a difference in the behavior of officers patrolling the border. What were once educated polite individuals have become uneducated meat balls rock hard because they carry a gun with no knowledge of the constitution.

The drug dog hits are often false and/or induced by over zealous guards at the internal suspicion less checkpoints. I have had drug dogs hit on my vehicle a few times (shockingly usually after I refuse to answer a question) and I don't carry illegal drugs.

Natalie the vehicle following you was probably a Department of Homeland Security Vehicle. I have had one instance of them flying up beside me while driving on the 19 back into Tucson as they use a sure fire flashlight and blind me. This is while each of us is traveling ca 70 mph by the way. Most likely they were running your plate to see if they wanted to pull you over, had it been a rental or registered to a hispanic/middle east sounding name you probably would have been. I have also had vehicles pull behind me in the manner you described and as I stopped for a snake in the road and hopped out had them then throw on their lights and question me.

I could go into much more detail about how ridiculous this situation has become and the obvious damage the patriot act has had on the constitution but I doubt many care and I do not have the time.

Chip

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by billboard » November 1st, 2010, 6:38 am

If you herp down there, arm yourself! Law enforcement officers are doing their job down there as well as they can, despite the fact they are dealing with a kook of a president who dosn't care to protect our constitutional rights. I applaud Arizona for the stance they have taken on immigration, and if BP want to pull me over a few times while I'm down there, Big Deal! I make sure I let those guys know that the majority of us thank them for the job well done! Buy a gun and take it herping with you is my advice..................but I'm not sure if you can buy guns in Canada?

Can you?


We still can here.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by desertwalker » November 1st, 2010, 9:46 am

I looked into buying a gun the last time I was in Arizona because you are right it is almost impossible to own a hand gun here in Canada and I can't even imagine what it would take to bring a gun into the U.S. They won't even allow me to bring oranges across the border never mind a gun. But if I could, I would pack because it only takes that one time when you're wishing you had one to even the playing field.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by klawnskale » November 1st, 2010, 12:38 pm

desertwalker wrote:I looked into buying a gun the last time I was in Arizona because you are right it is almost impossible to own a hand gun here in Canada and I can't even imagine what it would take to bring a gun into the U.S. They won't even allow me to bring oranges across the border never mind a gun. But if I could, I would pack because it only takes that one time when you're wishing you had one to even the playing field.
Might as well then buy a double barrel shotgun as you would for hunting big game in Canada. You pull that out of your vehicle, I guarantee no one is going to give you problems...

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Natalie McNear » November 1st, 2010, 2:26 pm

Chip Cochran wrote:Natalie the vehicle following you was probably a Department of Homeland Security Vehicle. I have had one instance of them flying up beside me while driving on the 19 back into Tucson as they use a sure fire flashlight and blind me. This is while each of us is traveling ca 70 mph by the way. Most likely they were running your plate to see if they wanted to pull you over, had it been a rental or registered to a hispanic/middle east sounding name you probably would have been. I have also had vehicles pull behind me in the manner you described and as I stopped for a snake in the road and hopped out had them then throw on their lights and question me.
Er... Unless they were doing undercover work in the desert or something, I dunno if LE of any kind goes driving around in beat-up red Toyota 4Runners from the 80s. I've been told there was a good chance they were cactus poachers.

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Gary N
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Gary N » November 3rd, 2010, 9:29 pm

Natalie McNear wrote:
Chip Cochran wrote:Natalie the vehicle following you was probably a Department of Homeland Security Vehicle. I have had one instance of them flying up beside me while driving on the 19 back into Tucson as they use a sure fire flashlight and blind me. This is while each of us is traveling ca 70 mph by the way. Most likely they were running your plate to see if they wanted to pull you over, had it been a rental or registered to a hispanic/middle east sounding name you probably would have been. I have also had vehicles pull behind me in the manner you described and as I stopped for a snake in the road and hopped out had them then throw on their lights and question me.
Er... Unless they were doing undercover work in the desert or something, I dunno if LE of any kind goes driving around in beat-up red Toyota 4Runners from the 80s. I've been told there was a good chance they were cactus poachers.
A couple of years ago I was standing on the 86 west of the Res and two guys in shorts and t-shirts driving some kind of old unmarked open-topped jeep with roll bars pulled over and asked me what I was doing. It turned out they were plain clothes Homeland Security agents, so they do sometimes go undercover in old vehicles. I've also been pulled over by plain clothes DEA driving an unmarked SUV.

It's a war zone now, but it's still a lot of fun.

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Chip Cochran
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Chip Cochran » November 4th, 2010, 4:11 pm

billboard wrote:If you herp down there, arm yourself! Law enforcement officers are doing their job down there as well as they can, despite the fact they are dealing with a kook of a president who dosn't care to protect our constitutional rights. I applaud Arizona for the stance they have taken on immigration, and if BP want to pull me over a few times while I'm down there, Big Deal! I make sure I let those guys know that the majority of us thank them for the job well done! Buy a gun and take it herping with you is my advice..................but I'm not sure if you can buy guns in Canada?

Can you?


We still can here.

Typical response from someone who does not live(d) in the state and does not have to deal with the gestapo tactics that have become the norm. Having to go through an internal suspicion less checkpoint EVERY DAY to get asked questions that are not doing any real good is pointless and a waste of tax payer dollars and a violation of the 4th amendment. It is all a show to make it appear that they are doing something. But it does keep the sheeple in place since most keep drinking the kool aid, Orwell was right. I do agree that the current president must not want to protect our constitutional rights since he has not yet repealed the patriot act which shred the constitution (put in place by Bush).

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
-------Ben Franklin Nov 11, 1755



Gary----- Kind of figured I was not the only one.

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Biker Dave
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Biker Dave » November 5th, 2010, 9:11 am

Hey Chip

Lets not get all worked up. Remember, the Patriot Act was passed almost unanimously by BOTH parties. Yes Bush signed it, but it was approved by both sides.

Oh... BillBoard spends A LOT of time here in AZ and owns property here too.

Just keeping the lights on.

Dave

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by billboard » November 16th, 2010, 12:48 pm

I wish we had as many Border Patrol agents here in San Diego!

I have a large chunk of land next to the ox bow ranch outside of wikieup, which I plan to build a home on in a year or two.
I spend about a quarter of the year in Az., so that makes me a part time resident. I may end up moving out there for good though,if we cant stop these liberal left wing kooks from sinking the golden state!

I don't wanna' drown with governor Brown!!!!

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Biker Dave » November 16th, 2010, 7:05 pm

Come on down! We can make Wikieup our Spring get together and stay at your place! Knock knock!

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Chip Cochran
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Chip Cochran » November 19th, 2010, 5:46 pm

Dave - I don't agree with either party. I the patriot act should not be passed. I brought up that Bush was the one who signed it into law as in billboards post you could tell he has an obvious right slant (confirmed with his follow up post). Remember Bush could have veto'd it and Obama should repeal it. Paul has it correct, Patriot act and the TSA regs are all BS.

Also I may have been wrong that he does not own land in AZ but having land in Wikieup does not mean you spend much time actually on the border. And spending time on the border is way different than spending time up by Prescott. Why? Well BP isn't the presence in Wikieup that it is on the border. When he has to go through a checkpoint every single day for a year straight for work and be held up waiting for other cars to go through just to have the same inept questions asked that do no real good for protecting this country then we can see how his stance on the subject is. But otherwise it's like listening to a guy from Iowa. Out of sight out of mind.

Billboard- There is a lot of Border Patrol in San Diego county. Believe me I know. I actually have been working a lot in San Diego county this past year. The officers seem more relaxed in this state, treat you with more respect but still waste tons of tax payer dollars. Anyway I would love to discuss this more and get in detail with reasons why but do not want to clog up the forum with not herp related stuff. If you are still in San Diego we should meet up and go herping some time. Or just go grab a beer. Either in SD area or in AZ. When working I stay in Point Loma.

Take care all,

Chip

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by USNHM242 » December 7th, 2010, 7:34 pm

AZ has changed, due mostly to Mexican influences. What many people dont really follow is that the number of immigrants crossing has remained relatively stabled. The increassed danger is due to drug war that has escalated on the mexico side of the border. The sinaloa cartel batttling with the zeta and baja cartels. The area that strectches from Occotillo, CA to Jauarez is the most highly contested area of the border. I have lived in San Diego and I currently live in AZ and have been stopped by the border patrol while herping on countless times(once with billboard in SD a few years ago if I recall correctly :D ). What you need to understand is that the work that they do is one of the most dangerous out there, specificially when dealing with Zetas. Unlike other cartels, the zetas were comprissed of former members of the mexican special forces community. They are trained to higher levels then the BP and usually better equipped and armed then the BP too.
I have served in on some of the most dangerous places in the world during my time in the special operations community and have also spent some time doing drug interdiction on the border assisting BP. I can honestly say that the level of danger faced by BP officers is on par the many outpost in Afghanistan. So next time you want to complain about the gestapo-like tactics, imagine how you would feel standing at those checkpoints in uniform.
-Doc

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by M.J.FRANETOVICH » December 10th, 2010, 6:32 pm

Just carry a big gun, and use night vision when walking around out side your car near the border after dark!!! Works for me!!!
By the way hunting with high power night vision goggles is a blast and highly recommended.

I love Arizona, and all the drug dealing Border brothers in the world will not keep me away!!! :beer:

><)))%>
Mel

Well said----Doc, I back the border patrol and all there efforts, he'll I enjoy talking with them on occasion!!!

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Biker Dave » December 11th, 2010, 8:14 am

Just be aware that a portion of the border has been CLOSED to public access due to the high level of border crossing/drug cartel traffic. I believe it is either in/or near the south end of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.
From what I can tell, Ruby Rd is still open and accessible all the way across.

Dave Weber

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » December 25th, 2010, 10:18 pm

USNHM242 wrote:AZ has changed, due mostly to Mexican influences. What many people dont really follow is that the number of immigrants crossing has remained relatively stabled.
Not only stabilized, the number of unauthorized border crossings has actually dropped quite a bit in the last few years.

In addition, the rate of violent crime in Arizona has dropped A LOT since 1995. The following table shows the violent crime rates per 100,000 people in Arizona since 1995, as published by the USDOJ. The first column is the year, the second is violent crimes, the third is murders, the fourth is forcible rape, the fifth is robbery, and the sixth is aggrevated assault. You'll noticed that the rate for every single violent crime has dropped significantly since 1995.

1995 713.5 10.4 33.6 173.8 495.7
1996 631.5 8.5 31.2 167.8 424.0
1997 623.7 8.2 32.8 165.7 417.1
1998 577.9 8.1 31.1 165.2 373.6
1999 551.2 8.0 28.9 152.5 361.6
2000 531.7 7.0 30.7 146.3 347.7
2001 540.3 7.5 28.6 167.1 337.1
2002 554.5 7.1 29.6 147.0 370.8
2003 513.3 7.9 33.3 136.6 335.6
2004 504.4 7.2 33.0 134.5 329.6
2005 512.0 7.5 33.7 144.1 326.7
2006 501.4 7.5 31.5 149.6 312.7
2007 482.7 7.4 29.3 151.7 294.3


Property crime rates have dropped just as much - the rates of burgulary, larceny, and auto theft have all dropped by 25-40% since 1995.

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/Sea ... yState.cfm

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Natalie McNear » December 26th, 2010, 7:52 am

Are there any data from recent years? It was my understanding that there was a sudden surge in violent crime after the economy crashed in 2008.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » December 26th, 2010, 8:38 am

Natalie McNear wrote:Are there any data from recent years? It was my understanding that there was a sudden surge in violent crime after the economy crashed in 2008.
No, that is certainly false. For some reason that dataset only went up to 2007, but the violent crime rate has continued to drop. This dataset gives the numbers up through 2009, showing little change from 2007 to 2008 and then a big drop in 2009.


Year Population CrimeIndex Violent Property Murder Rape Robbery Assault Burglary Theft Vehicle

2007 6,338,755 4,896.7 482.7 4,414.0 7.4 29.3 151.7 294.3 912.2 2,738.4 763.4
2008 6,499,377 4,569.0 481.2 4,087.8 7.0 33.7 150.1 290.3 894.3 2,605.6 587.9
2009 6,595,778 3,964.8 408.3 3,556.5 5.4 32.0 122.8 248.1 809.8 2,352.8 394.0

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/azcrime.htm


Try googling "Arizona Violent Crime 2008" or 2009 or 2010 and you can see a ton of links that will all tell you the same thing - violent crime is going down in Arizona and it's been going down for years. It's amazing that the year that everyone started going crazy at Obama about the situation in Arizona actually followed the safest crime year in generations. The whole "we're seeing a crime epidemic!" storyline was driven by people who either had a vested interest in more law enforcement/border patrol funding, had political reasons to frighten people about the border, were overly reactionary to the stories they heard coming out of Mexico, or just didn't like immigrants.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Steve Bledsoe » December 26th, 2010, 10:03 am

Jonathan,
If what you're saying is true, then how do you account for the recent closures of roads on US soil and in US Parks and National Monuments due only to the danger of foreign drug and human trafficking activities? Even more obvious are the signs along Interstate 8 warning American citizens of the dangers of travel south of I-8 between the highway and the Mexican border.

I've heard recently that the Obama administration is boasting about a drop in the number of apprehensions of criminals crossing the border illegally, which they claim is an indicator of a drop in illegal activity in those regions. But, in reality, that statistic is the result of our Border Patrol either not having enough resources to monitor those activities, or simply being told to ignore them in certain areas. Thus the closure of US soil to access by US citizens.

Our government has seceded parts of our country to foreign invaders. That has never happened before in the history of our country. I for one do not believe that any area along our southern border is as safe or safer than it has been in recent years. As long as the criminals have the upper hand, it will only get worse. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » December 26th, 2010, 7:44 pm

Steve Bledsoe wrote:Jonathan,
If what you're saying is true, then how do you account for the recent closures of roads on US soil and in US Parks and National Monuments due only to the danger of foreign drug and human trafficking activities? Even more obvious are the signs along Interstate 8 warning American citizens of the dangers of travel south of I-8 between the highway and the Mexican border.
The overall level of crime in Arizona is provably dropping. The overall level of crime in border counties in Arizona is provably dropping. Perhaps there have been local flareups in one region or another, but if there are then they're not serious enough to affect the overall crime level in those counties. And you haven't even provided any evidence that local flareups are any worse than they were in 1995 other than the assumption that government actions have a direct relationship with actual crime activity.

Here is the full crime report for Arizona:

http://www.azdps.gov/About/Reports/docs ... t_2009.pdf


Here are some more numbers, especially regarding the safety of being a border patrol agent:
The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.
FBI crime reports for 2009 says violent crime in Arizona declined. And violent crimes in southwest border counties are among the lowest in the nation per capita - they've dropped by more than 30 percent in the last two decades. Of America's 25 largest cities, San Diego - with one out of four residents an immigrant - has the lowest number of violent crimes per capita.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/06/ ... 3656.shtml



Steve Bledsoe wrote:I've heard recently that the Obama administration is boasting about a drop in the number of apprehensions of criminals crossing the border illegally, which they claim is an indicator of a drop in illegal activity in those regions. But, in reality, that statistic is the result of our Border Patrol either not having enough resources to monitor those activities, or simply being told to ignore them in certain areas. Thus the closure of US soil to access by US citizens.
This thread is all about how much MORE activity there is by border agents on the border right now. There are MORE border patrol agents on the border than before, with MORE resources than they've ever had. If resources were actually the issue, then we should be seeing MORE apprehensions, not less:
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are approximately 21,000 border agents charged with monitoring the country's borders. Most -- but not all -- are assigned to the Southwest border, that is, the land border that stretches from California to Texas. The number assigned to the area has been dramatically increasing in recent years. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of DHS, told us that 17,057 agents are now assigned to that border, up dramatically from 6,315 in 1997.
http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/sta ... exico-eve/




Everyone with numbers agrees that the number of people illegally crossing the border has gone down by a lot in recent years. That's probably partially due to the downturn in the US economy and partially due to the increased federal response on the border. Here are some more numbers for you:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/illegal- ... d=11524552

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/09/01/g ... -per-year/

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/41685.html



Steve Bledsoe wrote:Our government has seceded parts of our country to foreign invaders. That has never happened before in the history of our country. I for one do not believe that any area along our southern border is as safe or safer than it has been in recent years. As long as the criminals have the upper hand, it will only get worse. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.
I had a great time herping the border with you in August (and I pray that none of that is sullied by this exchange - I love herping with you and I love the work you do with NAFHA, we just disagree on these kind of issues). I felt relatively safe on the border, as I have every time I've herped the California/Mexico border, day or night, by foot or by car. I'm not "ignoring the problem", I'm just acknowledging the reality. And the United States government, which is continuing to put more and more resources into the border, isn't ignoring anything either.

Here's more evidence that we're actually doing more than ever, not less:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01790.html

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/new ... 2008_7.xml

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by ratsnakehaven » December 27th, 2010, 7:36 am

Jonathan, I don't usually get in these kinds of discussions, and I don't really like seeing folks take sides politically on the forum, but I do live near the border in AZ and I think with a lot of us down here the thought is that it's the drug cartells, along with the mules bringing in the illegals, that are the danger. I know the stats show a decrease in illegals lately, but border towns, like Nogales, aren't as safe as they used to be, with increased drug trafficking along the border. Also, if you take Mexico into consideration, it is lots more dangerous going down there than it used to be. Noone around here is taking any vacations in Mexico right now and I bet that affects their economy too.

I agree that crime is down in the cities, like Tucson, but the fear of increased crime in border towns is keeping travelers away from those towns, imho.

Terry

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » December 27th, 2010, 7:59 pm

ratsnakehaven wrote:I know the stats show a decrease in illegals lately, but border towns, like Nogales, aren't as safe as they used to be, with increased drug trafficking along the border.
I have not been to Nogales myself, but the stats do show that Nogales itself and the border towns like are are actually very safe, and continue to be just as safe as they've always been. The opinion of local law enforcement and county sheriffs in those areas confirms the picture that the statistics show:
Assistant Police Chief Roy Bermudez shakes his head and smiles when he hears politicians and pundits declaring that Mexican cartel violence is overrunning his Arizona border town.

"We have not, thank God, witnessed any spillover violence from Mexico," Bermudez says emphatically. "You can look at the crime stats. I think Nogales, Arizona, is one of the safest places to live in all of America."
That's from May 2010. And here are the actual numbers to back him up:
FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics provided by police agencies, in fact, show that the crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line. Statewide, rates of violent crime also are down.
In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes. Aggravated assaults dropped by one-third. No one has been murdered in two years.
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/ ... z19NKXNnT3

I believe that the combination of violence in Mexico, over-hyped media cycles, and unscrupulous politicians trying to take advantage of a situation make it seem less safe. But every bit of evidence points in the opposite direction.

Here's another quote:
Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County, said there always has been crime associated with smuggling in southern Arizona, but today's rhetoric does not seem to jibe with reality.

"This is a media-created event," Dupnik said. "I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure."

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » December 28th, 2010, 12:43 am

I want to apologize in part for the previous post. I'm overly in "get out the facts" mode and my posts are coming out too blunt and somewhat confrontational. I am distressed about the violence in Mexico, and I do believe there can be violence on the border as well, and I think that we should take appropriate steps to resolve it. As herpers we should take appropriate precautions when we are in areas that have some potential for violence. And I think the opinion of herpers who spend far more time than me on the Arizona border do matter. I just believe that all of the objective FBI, DOJ, police and sheriff department evidence available shows that there is less violence in Arizona, less violence in the major border cities across the Mexican border, less violence in the minor border cities across the Arizona-Mexico border, and less violence in the Arizona border counties than there was 10-15 years ago. And the opinion of law enforcement officials who have jurisdiction in those areas appears to be in strong favor of the idea that violence is not increasing. On top of that, all objective evidence shows that we have more resources at the border than ever before, more guards at the border than ever before, more fence at the border than ever before, and are paying more attention to the border than ever before. And this is all at a time when illegal immigration in those areas has been dropping significantly for several years.

I don't want to be as dismissive of the opinions of others as I have been earlier in this thread. My main purpose in participating is just to try to ensure that the verifiable facts we do know about criminal activity and immigration across the Mexican border are taken into consideration when we try to form opinions about what is really going on there.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Steve Bledsoe » December 28th, 2010, 10:23 am

Jonathan,
No apology necessary.
As far as stats and media reports go, it's sometimes difficult to separate the truth form the politics and facts from propaganda. What you are saying about overall crime rates dropping in Arizona is true, at least from what one can see in the media. Back in June, an article appeared in the New York Times stating that the current cries of violence in Arizona was all hype, and the author stated some facts about crime rates dropping in the state between the years 2005 and 2008. The problem with the report was that the stats he used were primarily for the two major metropolitan areas of Arizona, and not for the rural areas. Further research of the statistics showed that even though the number of crimes committed in Metro Arizona had dropped between the years 2000 and 2008 by as much as 20%, the number of crimes committed in the rural counties in that same period of time had risen 45%. Rural Arizona would of course include the US/Mex border.

For me, the fact still remains that I am warned not to travel on roads in Organ Pipe National Monument in southern Arizona because of the danger posed by the presence of illegal activities conducted by foreign invaders. In my mind, there is something very wrong with that scenario.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Biker Dave » December 28th, 2010, 6:22 pm

The fact that ANY area within the boundaries of the United States is closed to citizens due to FOREIGN INVADERS is problematic to me no matter what the stats tell us.

Sure, the border may be more secure than it has ever been. But lets put that into perspective....say the border was 30% secure ten years ago and now it is 45% secure. Yes, it is more "secure", but it is still completely wide open (The prior numbers used for illustratative purposes only and do not reflect any matter of fact).

"There lies, damn lies, and statistics."

Dave Weber

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » December 29th, 2010, 9:28 am

Steve - please don't use mistakes in someone else's report to try to poke holes in my data. The year-to-year data I posted is not from the "media", it's directly from official law enforcement records. And most of the media-related stuff I posted was direct quotes of law enforcement officials and crime rates.
Steve Bledsoe wrote:The problem with the report was that the stats he used were primarily for the two major metropolitan areas of Arizona, and not for the rural areas. Further research of the statistics showed that even though the number of crimes committed in Metro Arizona had dropped between the years 2000 and 2008 by as much as 20%, the number of crimes committed in the rural counties in that same period of time had risen 45%. Rural Arizona would of course include the US/Mex border.
Do you have any data or link for that? The article I quoted earlier appeared to contradict that assertion:
And violent crimes in southwest border counties are among the lowest in the nation per capita - they've dropped by more than 30 percent in the last two decades.

And the sheriffs in those rural counties don't seem to think violence is increasing either:
Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County, said there always has been crime associated with smuggling in southern Arizona, but today's rhetoric does not seem to jibe with reality.

"This is a media-created event," Dupnik said. "I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure."
In fact, according to the Border Patrol, Krentz is the only American murdered by a suspected illegal immigrant in at least a decade within the agency's Tucson sector, the busiest smuggling route among the Border Patrol's nine coverage regions along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Cochise County's crime rate has been "flat" for at least 10 years, the sheriff added. Even in 2000, when record numbers of undocumented immigrants were detained in the area, just 4 percent of the area's violent crimes were committed by illegal aliens.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/ ... z19WUhf8vv

So is violence in southwest border counties not among the lowest per capita? Has violence in US border counties overall not declined over 30 percent in the last two decades? Are the sheriffs in Arizona border counties wrong when they say that their crime rates have been flat since 2000 and that this claimed increase is a media-created event?

Any year-to-year data that contradicts the year-to-year data I already showed would be welcome.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by ratsnakehaven » December 29th, 2010, 10:20 am

jonathan wrote:I want to apologize in part for the previous post. I'm overly in "get out the facts" mode and my posts are coming out too blunt and somewhat confrontational. I am distressed about the violence in Mexico, and I do believe there can be violence on the border as well, and I think that we should take appropriate steps to resolve it. As herpers we should take appropriate precautions when we are in areas that have some potential for violence. And I think the opinion of herpers who spend far more time than me on the Arizona border do matter. I just believe that all of the objective FBI, DOJ, police and sheriff department evidence available shows that there is less violence in Arizona, less violence in the major border cities across the Mexican border, less violence in the minor border cities across the Arizona-Mexico border, and less violence in the Arizona border counties than there was 10-15 years ago. And the opinion of law enforcement officials who have jurisdiction in those areas appears to be in strong favor of the idea that violence is not increasing. On top of that, all objective evidence shows that we have more resources at the border than ever before, more guards at the border than ever before, more fence at the border than ever before, and are paying more attention to the border than ever before. And this is all at a time when illegal immigration in those areas has been dropping significantly for several years.

I don't want to be as dismissive of the opinions of others as I have been earlier in this thread. My main purpose in participating is just to try to ensure that the verifiable facts we do know about criminal activity and immigration across the Mexican border are taken into consideration when we try to form opinions about what is really going on there.

Jonathan, don't want you to think I'm ignoring your posts, but I've been distracted with other things last couple days, and have to leave this afternoon too; but I take no offense, and I'm glad you're posting this data, along with your professionalism. I mainly wanted to make the point that folks in my area, about 40 miles north of the border, are very sensitive to what's happening in Mexico, and most are afraid to go to Mexico or any of the border towns. The violence has mostly been on the Mexican side, but the feelings of many are that border towns aren't as safe as they used to be, in spite of stats. I'll post more when I get more time to spend on this strand. Gotta run....

Terry :thumb:

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Biker Dave » December 31st, 2010, 9:06 am

Everyone

I would have to agree with Terry on this one. The stats may say one thing, but it is the perception of the people who actually live in these areas that is important. Because they are the ones who are directly affected by everything that occurs in the area. And as a result, many of those people are not feeling that comfortable in this area of the state.

Thats my two cents....

Dave

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » December 31st, 2010, 9:30 am

Biker Dave wrote:I would have to agree with Terry on this one. The stats may say one thing, but it is the perception of the people who actually live in these areas that is important. Because they are the ones who are directly affected by everything that occurs in the area. And as a result, many of those people are not feeling that comfortable in this area of the state.
Perception can be manipulated. 1,000,000 people were killed in Rwanda because a certain group of Hutus created the perception that the Tutsis were bent on enslaving the Hutu people. 6,000,000 Jews were slaughtered in Germany because Nazis created the perception that the Jews were responsible for all the failings of Germany. Heck, something like 75% of Republicans believe that Barack Obama raised their personal tax rates in 2009 (even though nearly every taxpayer got a tax break in 2009) just because Republican leadership wants them to.

There are residents who have the perception that things have become more dangerous, and there are residents who have the perception that things have become less dangerous (both law enforcement and civilians in the area were quoted in those articles stating that things felt very safe). And there are a number of groups of people who are actively manipulating those perceptions in order to achieve their objectives. I'm always going to believe facts over perceptions, and every single actual piece of data regarding violence that's been linked on this thread has supported the idea that there's less illegal immigration, better border control, and less violence than there was 10-15 years ago. And wasn't that the question the OP was asking?

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Biker Dave » December 31st, 2010, 10:28 am

Has anyone noticed the original Poster desertwalker hasn't added to this post in awhile? Should we get this topic back on herping or move it to the Board Line forum?

Dave

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by ratsnakehaven » December 31st, 2010, 1:52 pm

I don't know, Dave. I think it's fairly appropriate for the AZ Forum. I bet lots of folks will read the thread wanting to know people's opinions on the subject. The one thing I really don't care for is when we get too political and start taking sides...republican/democrat type of thing. If it's just a shouting match I will ask to have the strand pulled.

I pretty much agree with Jonathan about the stats, but special interest groups (us) don't always care about the stats, just with what they see/hear going on. I herp along the border a lot and it doesn't bother me much, mostly because there is such a large B. P. presence. I also think there are some dangers out there in the desert, some places more than others, in the fact that some folks have guns. But, then again, herpers probably have a higher incidence of guns than most other groups, whether illegals or hobbyists, or whatever. In my area, we are mostly retirees, old folks who read the papers and listen to the news a lot, and many of these old folks who used to go to Mexico in the winter won't leave home now. They just keep hearing all these horror stories in the news about the drug cartels and shootings, etc.

So, for the original poster, I'd say take it all in and decide for yourself. I wouldn't worry too much about herping with a friend or group, but I don't know about taking my family and camping in the desert. Of course, we probably have a better chance of getting in a serious car accident out on the highway, but I worry about that too. I think some areas are safer than others, even if they have the signs out for illegals. One thing you could do is to PM some folks and ask them about the areas you're interested in. They would probably tell you how they feel about those areas.

PS: I've actually run into illegals in the desert quite a few times. I don't believe they are dangerous. Mostly, they're more afraid of you. It's the drug guys, or the mules, that you should be more shy of, imho, and they're likely to keep a large distance too, if possible.

Peace and Happy New Year....Terry

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Mike Rochford » January 7th, 2011, 11:15 pm

FWIW, I have an aunt and uncle in Nogales, AZ and they have lived there for nearly 50 years now. When we visited with them on my trip to AZ in August of 2010, they said there was a very strong BP presence in town and said they feel very safe and haven't seen nearly as many illegal immigrants passing through town. In the past, they would cut right through their yard (keep in mind, they live 100 yards from the border). Decades ago they had their home broken into and their guns were laid out on the floor in the process of being stolen when my cousin came home and the robbers jumped through the windows to escape. Despite this, they said Nogales is VERY safe right now. However, they seemed pretty concerned when we told them we would be camping in the Santa Ritas and Huachucas. They say it's hard for people to cross the border in Nogales anymore but outside the city it is easier. The BP presence in Nogales was very high while we were there so that seemed to make sense. We did end up having a bunch of illegal immigrants hike up the creek next to our campsite in the Santa Ritas one night. I never felt like we were in any danger but I think my girlfriend was pretty freaked out.

My opinion is that the media has turned this into a bigger deal than it really is. That's just what the media does. They try to make every story sound like the most important, interesting, and frightening thing that could possibly happen when really the situation is pretty boring. But I'm not saying there isn't a problem either though.

Anyway, I'm not trying to come across as any kind of authority on this matter. I just wanted to add my personal observations for people to consider. Ultimately, I know when I move out there in 2-3 weeks I will not hesitate to herp near the border. It can't be any more dangerous than Florida!

Mike

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by ratsnakehaven » January 8th, 2011, 4:57 am

Mike, thanks for your post. I'm no authority either, and you and Jonathan are right. Mostly what the average folks are hearing is from the media. They report things that happen in cities/towns along the border, people getting shot, etc, and that mostly has to do with the drug wars on the Mexican side. I don't personally go to Nogales and never have. I just have heard from folks that go or used to go. Also, what we are seeing is a higher BP presence. This sometimes makes us think there's more illegal activity. There's always been a high amount of illegal alien presence in our area of the Santa Cruz Valley and it's fairly obvious to someone like myself who spends a considerable amount of time in the field.

I'm glad you're moving into our area and hope to meet up sometime. Looking forward to seeing you on the forum too and hope you become a chapter member. Talk more later...

Terry

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by azatrox » February 13th, 2011, 5:31 am

Personally, I'm always hoping for the "No Country for Old Men" type scenario when I'm down there...The only thing that would better than THAT is finding a purdy little willardi under the suitcase as I pick it up! :)

Oh, and you can bet I'm counting the cash right then and there...no hidden transmitters here!

-Kris

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by sauceman » April 14th, 2011, 2:10 pm

Before I started herping the border areas in Arizona, the real border regions where you can sometimes see the "fence" (hahahaha... fence) I spoke with the Arizona State Police. I wanted to make sure that I correctly understood all of the firearms regs because mistakes in that arena can be disastrous. In the course of my conversation, the officer asked me specifically where I would be and when I told him he stated that it is strongly recommended that I carry a firearm for personal protection in those areas.

I do not camp in the areas close to the border because I wouldn't be able to sleep. Most of the traffic by smugglers, bandits, etc. takes place at night. I always have a holstered firearm in open-carry. Even with the recent changes to the concealed-carry law in AZ I will still open-carry. I want any potential problem people to clearly see, from a distance, that I am armed and those in my group are. I would be extremely happy to never have to fire or even brandish my weapon. I hope that the visual deterrent is sufficient. Due to the fact that cell phone coverage is often not available (or in Spanish) and the fact that any emergency help can be very far away I will always take my personal safety into my own hands and protect myself.

Regardless of whether you think the illegal activity has increased, decreased, or stayed the same, the evidence of heavy traffic is sometimes overwhelming. I have seen many spots where the area is blanketed in clothing, plastic bottles, disposable cell phones, food containers, and backpacks (lots and lots of backpacks). There is a lot going on. That being said, this activity is a mix of people trying to come find work, bandits who prey on those people, cartel smugglers, and other interesting types. Not everyone is a danger.

The media has done an excellent job of only addressing the Mexican immigrants coming across the border. They don't want to talk about the fact that a large percentage of people coming across are not even Mexican. This is how MS-13 (possibly the most violent and ruthless gang in the U.S.) gets in from El Salvador. There are also many people coming across from "Special Interest Countries" included Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc. etc. Some of these people have ties to Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. Terrorist groups in the Middle East have been found to pay cartels and other organized crime groups in Central America and Mexico as much as $30,000 to bring their operatives in to the U.S. Many Middle Eastern people will travel to Central America and assume Latino identities and then cross amongst the real Latinos to blend in. BP frequently encounters groups of people crossing who are speaking Farsi or Arabic. The media only wants to talk about the Mexicans because they want to make it socially unpopular to take a stance against immigration. This is probably because they are greased by the cheap labor lobbyists.

Here is where it gets really scary...

When illegal immigrants are caught from countries other than Mexico they are labelled as OTM's by the BP/ICE. Because they are not from Mexico, they cannot be sent back into Mexico like Mexican nationals who are apprehended. Instead, they are arrested, given a deportation hearing date, and released on own-recognizance. This is because we do not have enough detention space to house the massive numbers that are caught. Over 70% of them never show up to court. This means that they have literally disappeared into the U.S. interior... who knows where. So, when the next domestic terrorism event happens and people are all wondering "how did these people get here", that's how.

The number of illegal immigrants apprehended from countries other than Mexico was 14,850 in 2010 in the Tucson Sector alone. Of those, 2,960 were from special interest countries and countries that sponsor terrorism.

Border enforcement is an issue of national security.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Aaron Mills » April 14th, 2011, 4:55 pm

It's funny, because in all the nights that I have camped out down there only miles from the border, the only thing I have been worried about is how many times will border patrol startle me awake at night haha

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » April 14th, 2011, 6:48 pm

sauceman wrote:There are also many people coming across from "Special Interest Countries" included Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc. etc. Some of these people have ties to Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. Terrorist groups in the Middle East have been found to pay cartels and other organized crime groups in Central America and Mexico as much as $30,000 to bring their operatives in to the U.S.
What exactly does this have to do with herping near the border....are these terrorists looking to off herpers on their way across or something? It feels a lot more politically motivated than herping motivated.

I'd be interested to know what the numbers are on the # of Hezbollah/Al Queda/other terrorist groups who have committed terrorist operations in the United States after illegally crossing the border from Mexico. In fact, I'd be interested to know if Hezbollah has committed a terrorist act in the United States period. And I'd like to know how many people have died at the hands of Arabic or Farsi-speaking persons while herping in Arizona.

I'm not saying it can't happen.....but when I pay only a scant amount of attention to dozens of risk factors that kill hundreds or thousands of people each year, why should I get worked up about a risk factor so much more insignficant than that? I'm not the kind of person who gets worked up about a risk just because Middle Eastern people are involved or because it makes big headlines, if its really not a significant risk.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by sauceman » April 14th, 2011, 7:27 pm

@ jonathan - If you go back and read the original post you will see that the question/topic wasn't really about herps to begin with. It was about current border region issues with safety, checkpoints, BP/LE, etc. I was just following suit. The question was about how Arizona has changed, particularly in the border regions. If you read the responses by others, they are not really about herps at all. Some people went back and forth for several replies quoting violent crime statistics and law enforcement perspective in the AZ border regions.

I certainly agree with you about the low risk of herpers being terrorized by Islamic extremists in AZ. However, these people are paying cartels and organized crime organizations to transport their operatives across the AZ/Mexico border. If you think that armed cartel members bringing someone in for a $30,000 fee does not increase the danger I strongly disagree.

With regard to terrorist activity by people entering the U.S. I will remind you that the people who committed the acts of 911 were in the United States for quite a while before they did anything. Their MO is to set up cells and meticulously plan and study before attacking. Several of the prominent terrorist leaders in the Middle East have spoken openly in press conferences and rallies about the growing presence of their operatives in the U.S. sitting quietly until their time has come.

All this being said, I believe you are right about the degree of risk being low. All of us stand a greater risk of death or injury while driving cars to our herping spots. I, too, weigh the risks and still choose to herp in those areas. I will not choose to abstain from activities I enjoy when I feel the risk is not extreme. But, I prefer to be educated about what the risks are so I know what to look for and can exercise the appropriate caution.

Lastly, here are some excerpts from a lengthy report I have on the subject of terrorists entering through our ridiculously porous border. If you would like to read it, I can provide you with the report.

... 9/11 Commission Report notes that Lebanese nationals sympathetic to Hamas and Hezbollah have been smuggled into the United States with the assistance of "corrupt Mexican officials in Beirut, Mexico City and Tijuana to facilitate their travel";

... November 2005, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) tells the Charlotte Observer that three al Qaeda terrorists had been captured at the U.S.-Mexico border;

... evidence surfaces that former al Qaeda operations chief Khalid Sheikh Mohammed encouraged aspiring "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla to enter the United States by way of Mexico in order to carry out attacks on U.S. targets

... Washington Times reports that al Qaeda has allied itself with organized Latin American crime groups (such as the notorious Mara
Salvatrucha gang, also commonly known as 'MS-13') to facilitate the entry of al Qaeda operatives into the United States via Mexico;

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » April 15th, 2011, 4:46 am

Sauceman - the OP was about our safety while herping. Your own political views about immigration, Middle Eastern people, and terrorist cells sitting in the United States for years have nothing to do with that.

Jose Padilla was an American citizen, born in New York, spent most of his life in the states, and whenever he left and came back into the country it was legally through international airports. Even if he was given advice to cross over the Mexican border (for what reason exactly?), that's a pretty poor example.

Hamas and Hezbollah have carried out how many operations in the United States? Yes, they have cells in the US....fundraising cells. Both have been around since the 1980s, and neither have attacked the United States in that entire time because doing some would be counterproductive to their interests. To the degree that they're coming to the US, they're doing so to smuggle drugs (to make money), to smuggle people (to make money), and to build interest among American sympathizers (to make money). They view the US as a funding source for their terrorist activities/battles against the Israeli government. That's not a good thing, but it has absolutely nothing to do with our safety as herpers and much, much less to do with national security than you imply.

So I'll ask again - how many Middle Eastern terrorists have attacked America after crossing over the Mexican border, in the entire history of this country?


sauceman wrote:@ jonathan - If you go back and read the original post you will see that the question/topic wasn't really about herps to begin with. It was about current border region issues with safety, checkpoints, BP/LE, etc. I was just following suit.
I didn't see how anything to do with Middle Eastern peoples has anything to do with our safety in border regions, or our response to the checkpoints or BP/LE or anything else. Then again, a certain prominent Arizona herper asked if I was a Muslim when he heard my last name, so maybe I'll be targeted at the checkpoints? :lol: That would be important information for this herper! :beer:

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Brandon La Forest
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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Brandon La Forest » April 15th, 2011, 8:42 am

Jonathan im pretty sure Sauce backed up allot of what he said with facts did you really read what he wrote?

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by jonathan » April 15th, 2011, 8:50 am

Brandon La Forest wrote:Jonathan im pretty sure Sauce backed up allot of what he said with facts did you really read what he wrote?
Can you detail which part of my post you're referring to? Did I miss the part where he explained how anything he was talking about had to do with my safety while herping? I'm still waiting for the first Middle Eastern terrorist to off a herper.

Jose Padilla really is an American citizen who never illegally crossed the Mexican border, Hamas and Hezbolla really haven't ever killed or injured anyone through terrorist operations in America, and no Americans have ever been killed by Middle Eastern terrorists who got here by illegally crossing the Mexican border....so I'm not sure what part of my post looked uninformed to you.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by Bob McKeever » April 15th, 2011, 9:30 am

Hey folks,

Not sure I can add anything substantive to the discussion in its several threads, but its too inviting to avoid. My history with Arizona herping started in about 1973 but was sporadic until 1994 & pretty regular since then (just yesterday bought my 17th consecutive annual AZ non-resident hunting license). As to the original question, "has Arizona changed," well, yes. As regards herping (not to be confused with the herps themselves), most of the changes I've seen have been negative from several perspectives. Changes that we have little chance of reversing in any meaningful way that I can percieve. Chief among them from a road-cruiser's point-of-view has been an increase in vehicle traffic in most places that I wouldn't have imagined back in 1973, or even 1983.

Much of the traffic, if not most, on some roads is entirely driven by the increased BP presence. Increased BP presence driven by either increased need (a likely scenario in any case) or inflamed rhetoric driven by any number of needs (also likely in some cases). There is no road that I've cruised over the decades, whether day or night, that doesn't have increased traffic. In some cases, especially the more remote roads, this increase is due almost entirely due to BP travel.

And, I've had to adapt. One of my favorite roads south of Tucson is so heavily traveled by high-speed BP vehicles, usually in convoys of 2 to 5 vehicles at a time, that I've eliminated it as one of my study transects. This is the only safety issue that I've reacted to in my adaptation to changing times.

As to illegal immigrants, smugglers, etc., signs of warning from the gov't notwithstanding, I've not considered that they have much interest in me other than to occasionally step out of the brush to try to hitch a ride once they see my vehicle isn't BP. Can't speak to the camping in remote places that some of you do. Sleeping on the ground isn't much of an option for me anymore. I will add that, as a former Marine and retired law enforcement officer, I'm not uncomfortable with being armed, but that's clearly a matter of personal choice.

I do chafe at some of the tactics of the BP & other agencies. I've been stopped while herping by tribal plice, state police, local police, game wardens, and BP. I resent being asked at a checkpoint where I'm going, and resent even more being asked what i'm going to do when I get there. But, other than one memorable occasion when my mood wasn't conducive to civil discourse and I was finished herping for the night anyway, I usually go into sheep mode and answer up. I'd rather get up the road to look for critters than spend my time negotiating with someone who hasn't been trained in negotiation. Most stops on the road, other than when an officer lies as to the reason for the stop, are typically short and handled in a decent way.

Much too long in this post and I'll close with an answer to the original question: Yes! Arizona has changed. If you can't adapt, until such time as they change for the better in any number of ways, there are other states with herps. Though none that I know about with the attractions of Arizona at its best, or its worst. I suspect that most folks reading this have already gone through an adaptation phase of their own & I'm likely to see you on the road in AZ someday.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by sauceman » April 15th, 2011, 10:10 am

Yes, we are talking about safety while herping in border regions.

I do not intend to imply that there is a direct risk of being assaulted by Hezbollah or Hamas operatives coming across the border. But, these people don't hire migrant farm workers to guide them in. The danger stems from those people who are paid to escort them. They are escorted by heavily armed cartel and organized crime groups. Whether you can attribute any specific statistics to that, I think few would argue that increases the danger to some degree.

Regardless of the immigration issue and the numbers of people crossing, the type of traffic that is coming across in these areas has certainly changed. The increased danger is a result of higher ratio of cartel smugglers to honest people looking for a better life. The cartels have become increasingly better armed and better funded in recent years. Their training and tactics have become more sophisticated. In many cases, they have the cooperation and assistance of corrupt Mexican military. I have seen and been approached by immigrants coming across our border on many occasions, they do not concern me greatly. The danger is increased by the other activities and the ruthless groups that sponsor such operations.

If you were to ask the ranchers who live and work full time in Cochise County between Douglas and New Mexico, I am certain that they would tell you they feel considerably less safe than in past years.

As Dave pointed out, the U.S. has essentially created a DMZ in part of the AZ-Mexico border region because they determined it too unsafe for BP/ICE to defend. If that doesn't spell increased danger I don't know what does.

The Tohono O'odham tribe, which has 70 miles of border with Mexico, recently asked for Federal Government assistance in dealing with smuggling problems across their land. This is an unprecedented move as Native American tribal nations rarely offer jurisdiction to U.S. entities on tribal lands. They were overwhelmed in dealing with heavily armed drug smugglers and simply needed help. As a result of this move, they were met with strong criticism from other Native American tribes in AZ but insisted that the problem was too severe to handle alone.

I am not trying to make a political point about immigration here. I am talking about safety and potential dangers in the border areas, which is relevant to the OP. If you notice, I have not mentioned any political parties or presidents anywhere in my dialogue. I do not care from where a border crosser originates, if they are coming across armed or guided by armed individuals who work for malicious organizations I have an issue with it.

jonathan, I agree with you that much of the issue is perception, and that it is very hard sometimes to sift through the information and determine what is real and what is propaganda. I also agree that the dangers in border regions may be overstated in an effort to achieve other goals. The subject of this post is "Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?". I believe that all of the issues I have presented point to a definite change in the change in the overall safety and social climate of Southern Arizona.

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by robert » April 17th, 2011, 1:10 pm

All:

I have now read the entire thread. While some posts were more on topic than others, it did give me a good sense of what is going on close to the border. I have been coming each year since 2004. Clearly this does not make me an 'old timer' and so I do not have a lot of personal experience. And this experience is critical. As someone who grew up in NYC, I learned what is and is not safe from the first hand experience of others.

As an outsider, I have found that local BP and park officers can be quite helpful. As I enter an area, I try to chat up the officials from the nearest park or BP agents to get an idea of what is and is not a prudent risk. I have found them to be helpful, but do not have any way to evaluate their advice other than I have not had any problems. But that may be simply a function of me being a 'newbie'

So, thanks for the thread and any additional advice on what is and is not prudent in specific areas would certainly be helpful.

-Robert

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Re: Has Arizona changed or am I the one who has changed?

Post by will lattea » April 29th, 2011, 11:55 am

I've enjoyed everyone's input on this thread. Where can I find information about the areas near Organ Pipe that are closed? As an east coaster that is obsessed with buzztails, I keep a pretty close eye on the news in terms of the border, and this is something that is absolutely not discussed. I skipped that area last year simply because we didn't have time, and I was really hoping to hit Organ Pipe on my next visit...

I think that the more people have discussions like this, rather than just listen to the mass media/ political BS, the better off everyone will be.

Thanks,

Will

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