Note: Looks like our friends from the south continue operational
control of the border. Might want to read twice.
Migrants report rape, encounters with armed men
By the Nogales International
Published Friday, May 6, 2011 1:40 PM CDT
An undocumented immigrant told authorities that she was raped in the
desert south of the Interstate 19 checkpoint overnight Wednesday,
while two different groups of illegal border-crossers reported being
held up at gunpoint east and west of Nogales.
In all three cases, the alleged victims declined to file charges,
said Lt. Raoul Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.
Early Thursday morning, Rodriguez said, sheriff's deputies were
called out Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital after a 37-year-old woman
from the state of Puebla, Mexico said she had been sexually assaulted.
The woman told the deputies that she had crossed into the United
States three days earlier in the area west of the Mariposa Port of
Entry. She was eventually taken to a vehicle, transported north, and
dropped off with five men by a bridge next to the interstate, where
the group met with their "coyote," or human smuggler.
The woman said she walked all day and then fell asleep that night.
"During the night she felt someone touching her and when she awoke,
she saw the coyote touching her breast and vaginal area," Rodriguez
said. "The victim pleaded with suspect to stop. However, she was
extremely exhausted due to the trip and she succumbed to his advances."
The woman said that once the assault was over, she waited for the
coyote to fall asleep. When he did, she escaped and was found walking
down Bridge Road in Tubac by the Border Patrol.
She described her assailant as a Hispanic male in his 20s or 30s, but
refused to proceed with the investigation, Rodriguez said.
Incidents with armed men
On Wednesday evening, deputies responded twice to the Nogales Border
Patrol station after groups of illegal border-crossers reported
encounters with armed suspects.
In the first incident, a group of 10 people reportedly had crossed
into Arizona south of Old Ruby Road when they were approached by
three men wearing dark clothing and ski masks. Two of the men carried
AK-47 style rifles and one had a pistol.
The men demanded food and searched the migrants for money, but
nothing was taken and no one was assaulted, according to two men who
were later picked up by the Border Patrol near the town of Old Ruby,
approximately 25 miles northwest of Nogales.
The men, natives of Nogales, Sonora ages 21 and 24, reported the
encounter but did not want to file charges, Rodriguez said.
In the second incident, a 37-year-old man from Guerrero, Mexico, told
deputies that he was among a group of 11 undocumented immigrants –
six men and five women – who were "dropped off" in the area of the
Santa Cruz Ranch east of Nogales on April 30. After walking for about
an hour, he said, the group was confronted by six armed men.
The witness said all six men carried rifles, and possibly had
grenades. They wore camouflage clothing, spoke in Spanish and used
code names. They communicated via radio and used codes over the
radio, and questioned members of the group about possible
associations with cartels in Mexico.
The man said the gunmen took $800 from him and held the group in the
mountain area near Duquesne, approximately 20 miles east of Nogales.
"The gunmen did not assault anyone in the group, and no shots were
fired," Rodriguez said. They released the women and the one man on
Tuesday, and the remaining males were let go the next day.
The witness said he contacted the rest of his group via telephone and
everyone was fine and back in Mexico, Rodriguez said.
Note: yes, this area where hunters and shooters were blamed.
Volunteers, students, BLM clean up at Sawtooth Mountains
By DENNIS GODFREY
Public Affairs Specialist, Bureau of Land Management
Exclusive to the Arizona City Independent/Edition
Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 4:13 AM MST
Submitted photo, Volunteers start down the Sawtooth Mountains
carrying the results of their cleanup. About a ton of trash was
hauled out of the National Monument in 69 bags.
The volunteers were ready to go up the mountain, but they were told
to hold back until law enforcement officers completed their sweep of
the area targeted for the clean up effort.
"How long does it take those guys?" asked one member of the Dove
Mountain Hiking Club. He and his colleagues, eager to get started on
the clean up, were tired of waiting. They were there to work near the
base of the Sawtooth Mountains south of Arizona City and part of the
Ironwood Forest National Monument.
"OK, go ahead," said Laura Olais. manager of the Ironwood Forest
National Monument for the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona (BLM).
The 10 or so volunteers didn't need a second invitation. They started
up the hill immediately, spreading out as they looked for the best
route. Within minutes each of them stopped and began using the long-
handled trash grabbers they had been issued. The pickup tools were
perfect for reaching into crevices and under rocks to get cans, water
bottles, pizza boxes, toilet paper and other trash left behind in the
gorgeous Sawtooth Mountains, which are in the northern part of the
Ironwood Forest National Monument.
This wasn't trash tossed aside by careless hikers. This was trash
from those involved in smuggling operations – human and drug.
And most of the trash was poked into crevices or covered by rocks.
Smugglers have learned that trash is a give-away for their positions,
said Tom Lister, chief law enforcement ranger for BLM Arizona. So now
the smugglers are hiding the trash and sometimes carrying it out. It
is part of the dangerous cat-and-mouse operation that the smugglers
and law enforcement officers are engaged in.
On Saturday, April 30, the volunteers organized by Olais and others
at the BLM were taking part in a joint effort to clean up the
Ironwood Forest National Monument. It was part of Operation ROAM, an
acronym for Reclaim Our Arizona Monuments. Cleanup is one leg of that
operation, which also includes increased law enforcement activity and
cooperation with other agencies.
All three of those elements were in place on Saturday. A team of the
multi-agency Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement
Mission (GIITEM) , wearing shirts reading "Street Gang Task Force,"
were on hand and joined BLM rangers in a sweep of the area making
sure it was safe for volunteers.
An Arizona Department of Public Service helicopter flew overhead
looking for any activity or people that didn't seem right. Eloy
police officers patrolled the area perimeter watching for people who
might have been flushed out by the concentrated focus.
A half-mile away from the cleanup volunteers, 15 inmates from the
Pinal County Jail, supervised by the Sheriff's Office detention
officers, hauled rocks by hand. They used the rocks to make two small
walls, blocking entry to illegal roads used for smuggling.
Previous to Saturday, BLM rangers, Border Patrol agents, Eloy police
officers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and Pinal
County Sheriff's Office deputies made multiple sweeps through the
area, working to make sure it was safe for volunteer activity.
The only danger the volunteers faced was handling sometimes
disgusting items of left-behind clothing, backpacks and other items.
Each was issued gloves, had the long-handled pickup tools and had
been thoroughly briefed on safety issues.
The volunteers were from the Dove Mountain Hiking Club, the Clean
Forest Project and the Silverbell Estates homeowners association.
They were joined by BLM employees and workers from the Student
The result of a morning's work was about a ton of trash that was
pulled out of the National Monument in 69 bags. Olais estimated that
the volunteers had retrieved 80 percent of the identified trash on
In addition, the inmates completely blocked access to a smuggling
road, which will deter criminal activity and halt natural resource
Lister praised the support and cooperation among the law enforcement.
"In times of difficult budget periods, we got excellent support from
the Department of Public Safety with the helicopter and the team they
provided. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu also made special efforts
to see that this operation was safe and successful," he said.
As for the volunteers, they came down the mountain a bit slower than
they went up. Part of that was due to the hard work they had put in,
but it was also due to the heavy bags that they were bringing down.