April 29, 2011
Why Isn't Obama Talking About the Human Skulls?By Leo W. Banks
I'm betting that when President Obama met with his open borders supporters at the White House last week, he didn't mention the human skulls.
Why would he? Loose heads only confuse matters when you're making a pre-2012 play for comprehensive immigration reform, based on the crackerjack job the Administration has done securing the border.
It's a political fairy tale, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as the chief wand-waver. She's been on a multi-week speaking tour, including a session with Fox's Bill O'Reilly last Wednesday, boasting of the unprecedented resources she has shipped to the Southwest.
The border is as secure as it's ever been, she proclaims, so couldn't we just move it along and stop talking about the armed bandits roving Arizona's backcountry, the recurring shootouts between rival cartels, the smugglers sniping at Border Patrol, and of course, the skulls that keep popping up?
Now word comes that Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin is back in Tucson this week, yet another effort to quell the tumbleweed rebellion this government has sparked in smuggler-occupied southern Arizona. Call it the rebellion of the informed.
Here's the nutshell truth about the situation here: The border towns are relatively safe, thanks to more agents, more money, and better fencing. In Nogales proper, population 20,000, with more than 60 city cops and approximately 800 federal agents now working there, the crime rate has actually dropped. Nogales also has 18-foot-tall fences running out east and west of town.
The feds base their security boasts on success in the border towns. But these efforts haven't stopped the illicit traffic, only moved it out into our remotest lands.
Out of sight, out of mind is part of the government's plan. With the bad guys high up in the mountains and in the canyons, Napolitano and Bersin get the political cover to claim the war is just about won.
Tell that to the folks living in and around the Coronado National Forest west of Nogales. It has become a modern-day frontier, as drug mules, illegal aliens, and bandits cross the Peck Canyon Smuggling Corridor.
On Dec. 14, Border Patrol Brian Terry was murdered in Peck Canyon when his four-man tactical team got into a firefight with at least five bandits, several armed with AK-47s.
The killing was sadly predictable.
The month before, I wrote about life in the Peck Corridor and included a list of reported assaults, robberies, shootings, and rapes these bandits had committed against passing illegals and mules. One of the people I quoted was Jason Kane, who grew up riding horses in the Atascosa Mountains.
He said the danger level had risen to the point where he'd no longer venture into that beautiful borderland range, unless armed and accompanied by other people.
Wouldn't you think, following the Terry murder, if the feds had the ability to control Arizona's remote areas, they would've flooded the Peck Corridor with agents, so that if a rattlesnake sneezed, even in that vast terrain, they'd hear it?
The traffic did abate somewhat right after Dec. 14, but it has returned with force. On February 19, authorities found a decomposing body near Agua Fria Canyon, where Kane lives on the edge of the national forest.
Then, on April 13, Kane was outside doing chores when he noticed his dogs playing with a human skull, according to the sheriff's report. When deputies inspected the property, they found part of a human jaw and human teeth, likely brought in from the forest by his dogs.
Two days after Kane's grisly find, on April 15, a cowboy working a few miles away found a second skull, this one fresh and rank, located about 300 yards downhill from where another skull was found in 2007.
A third skull --- the third in six days in tiny Santa Cruz County -- was found on April 11 east of I-19 in the Patagonia Mountains, east of the Peck Corridor.
Although it's often impossible to determine a cause of death, Sheriff Tony Estrada tells me most of these skulls are not murder victims. More likely, they're illegals or mules who trekked up into rugged landscape and faltered from dehydration or some other trouble, and animals dismembered the corpses.
"We push these people out into the remote areas where they become prey for both human and animal predators," says Estrada. "We're finding 15-20 bodies a year now and that's new for us. This smuggling is a dirty, vicious business."
The rancher whose cowboy found the fresh head has had at least eight shootings on his land since late 2009, including the Terry murder and the sniper wounding of another Border Patrolman.
For several years, this rancher has talked to me on the record. But last week he called to say that with the situation heating up, including a recent drug bust practically in his front yard, he's not talking for attribution anymore.
"This past year has far and away been most turbulent time in the 35 years we've been on this ranch," he said.
Fifth generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton echoed that in testimony on April 15 in Washington before two committees of the U.S. House. He described two drug smuggler break ins at his house south of Arivaca, and the damage they've done to the family's sense of security.
"We live with weapons near our bed, at the doors, in our vehicles, and attached to our saddles," Chilton told the Congressmen.
To understand what Chilton and some others in the Tucson Sector face, consider the Border Patrol's arrest blotter for a single day, April 20, in areas immediately surrounding the Peck Corridor:
*Agents working near Tumacacori arrest three Mexican illegals, seize 119 pounds of marijuana and a .38 caliber revolver.
*Agents working near Amado arrest a Mexican illegal, and seize 465 pounds of marijuana and a MAC-10 machine pistol.
*An Agent working near Three Points seizes a loaded 9mm handgun and ammunition from two marijuana backpacks dropped during a chase of two suspected Mexican illegals.
The Administration's response to all this, in addition to studiously avoiding any mention of the skulls, is to double down on politics.
At a fundraiser in San Francisco last week, the President gave a salute to open borders when he equated those who respected our laws and entered the country properly through Ellis Island, with those who today illegally cross the Rio Grande.
What impact might Obama's words have?
Well, if you're in Mexico thinking of jumping the border, the message is come on in -- we love you undocumented Democrats, even if some of you will get assaulted, raped, or die in making the effort.
And if you're a Border Patrol agent working those dark canyons at night, or a resident trying to protect your family from the drug gunmen, keep your head down and best of luck -- because the President has higher priorities than you.
Leo W. Banks covers the border from Tucson. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.