Mexico has become a more dangerous place over the last few years, and violence in the northern part of the country has been growing. The violence has been spreading to the southern part of the United States. Recently, a sheriff in Pinal County has announced that there are parts of the county that he cannot keep under control. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has made areas of our southern states off-limits because the areas are overrun with drug runners and immigrant smugglers. If the US government doesn’t wake up, parts of the United States could become more like third world countries, in terms of safety, than the United States.
The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
If you planned on taking a vacation to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona, you may have to change your plans. Parts of the Refuge have been closed, as “the concentration of illegal activity, surveillance and law enforcement interdictions make these zones dangerous.” The US Fish and Wildlife Service has closed off approximately 3500 acres, directly adjacent to the border, because of violence that is spilling over from the Mexican border. The area is closed until further notice.
Cartels Control Parts of Arizona
Sheriff Babeu of Pinal County recently admitted that there are parts of his county that he no longer can control. Pinal County is not immediately adjacent to the border, Santa Cruz and Pima Counties stand between Pinal and the border. In a recent news conference, he noted that “we are outgunned, we are out manned, and we don’t have the resources here locally to fight this.” In areas that once were popular places for taking hikes and off-road vehicles, signs now warn visitors that they might “encounter armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed,” and are encouraged to use lands north of Interstate 8.
Pockets of Safety… For Now
While many places are becoming more dangerous, some border towns are not seeing a statistically large increase in crime. In Nogales, Arizona, the rate of aggravated assaults has dropped. There have been no murders in Nogales in two years, despite the fact that the violence on the other side of the border has increased. Although this city is rather safe, and is a reason for the Arizona Republic to declare that “Violence is not up on Arizona border despite Mexican drug war,” the newspaper focuses on the population-dense area of Nogales, but neglects to mention what is going on in the vast areas of federal lands that are located in the South. The sparsely populated areas are where the drug war seems to be located… for now.
More needs to be done to seal the border between the United States and Mexico. If drug smugglers can get into the country, so can violent terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda. The next September 11th might occur as a result of a lax border and the re-wilding of the Wild West.
Resendez, MaryEllen. “Pinal County Sheriff: Mexican Drug Cartels Now Control Parts of Arizona.” ABC15.com, 11 June 2010.
US Fish & Wildlife Service. Closure of Refuge Lands Adjacent to Border. Press release, October 2006.
Wagner, Dennis. “Violence is Not Up on Arizona Border Despite Mexican Drug War.” Arizona Republic, 2 May 2010.