In Arizona, a group of armed vigilantes have allegedly taken to conducting their own deadly border patrol missions.
At about 10:35 p.m. last Sunday, officers in Pima, Ariz., responded to a call of shots fired on a vehicle carrying illegal aliens into the United States.
Police say that the vehicle, which is thought to have been carrying about 30 aliens, was ambushed by an unknown number of men dressed in camouflage and armed with rifles. When the men opened fire, two of the passengers in the truck were killed.
Dawn M. Barkman, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, told The Arizona Republic that police are unclear why the gunmen opened fire on the pickup, but the shooting happened in an area commonly used by human smugglers.
The surviving passengers fled into the desert, according to reports. Five were located hiding in the brush, interviewed by homicide detectives and turned over to the Border Patrol.
In a similar January 2007 incident, four men wearing camouflage and berets and armed with assault weapons killed a smuggling suspect and wounded another person after ambushing a vehicle in a nearby town. In March 2007, gunmen wearing dark clothing ambushed a vehicle loaded with more than 20 illegal aliens near Green Valley, south of Tucson, and killed two people.
While police currently have no suspects in the case and do not know the motive, some people believe the actions were acts of vigilante border patrol.
The incident comes as many Arizonians are becoming increasingly frustrated that the Federal government has not done more to secure the Southern border. Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen introduced S.B. 1083, a bill that would create a volunteer militia to patrol the State and pursue and apprehend illegal border crossers. The proposal is gaining little support in the State Legislature.
“Everybody just wants to sit around and gripe about it, complain about it, blame the federal government for it,” Allen told AzCapitolTimes. “But when it comes to saying, ‘What can we do as a state to really try to solve the problem?’ Now it’s all the reasons why we can’t solve this problem.”
Liability and training concerns have slowed legislative action on the initiative.