The increasing violence on the Arizona/Mexico border made national news when southeastern Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was killed in March, an act that shook the livestock industry to the core. Authorities indicated the murder suspect was likely an illegal alien involved in drug smuggling. In response to that and two decades of border violence, the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (ACGA) has released the Restore Our Border (ROB) Security Plan which outlines actionable items requiring immediate attention and implementation by local, state and federal authorities who guard our border.

The report says, “The U.S./Mexico border in southern Arizona has become a lawless region. Criminals, bandits and an international organized crime unit are operating with impunity in the region. Their trades are burglary, home invasion, drug smuggling, human smuggling, murder, extortion and kidnapping rackets. These organized crime units have been terrorizing northern Mexico for 20 years and have been terrorizing Southern Arizona for at least 10 years. These entities are extremely violent and dangerous and they have now succeeded in creating terror in Southern Arizona as they have in Northern Mexico.”

It notes that, “The level of fear and frustration from southern Arizona’s ranching families has been building for some time now. Along with these families other residents in the area have also experienced the mayhem and terror of these illegal actions and crimes. The level of lawlessness reached such a point that a small tight knit group of Southern Arizona individuals, who were determined to find solutions, began a quest of fact finding to identify actions needing to be deployed along the border with Mexico. These individuals have been meeting with prosecutors, law enforcement officials, judicial officials, and agency personnel charged with securing our border.”

The Restore Our Border plan includes specific action items that involve increasing resources and empowerment for local, state and federal law enforcement and judicial agencies (click here for a full list). These include everything from streamlining the federal claims process for recovering damages caused by illegal alien burglaries, vandalism and ranch infrastructure/livestock losses, to increasing Arizona Horse Patrol units and the more stringent enforcement of immigration laws.

The ACGA is providing this report first hand to all of the elected or government officials who have the responsibility of securing the border with Mexico. “We will directly ask them to implement the action items which represent their duties and official positions,” the report says. “We will follow up with each official to demand action on these items. Where we deem action is lacking or not forthcoming we will notify southern Arizona citizens and all levels of media. We demand action.”

I spoke to Jim Lytle, DVM, a veterinarian in Wickenburg, Ariz., who is involved in this effort and who forwarded me the report. “I feel that it is of vital importance that we all get involved in the border situation for multiple reasons,” Lytle says. “Of prime importance is to help our ranchers and their families that have to live in fear of the daily violence and violent criminals who trespass their ranches on a daily basis. Also, as veterinarian, it is of prime concern for the biosecurity of our livestock as many of those crossing are from areas of the world that have foreign animal diseases and the products they bring with them may be harboring viruses that could create major economic and animal problems.”

One of the ROB program’s missions is to describe and personalize the real life impacts of the lawlessness from illegal activities on personal security, ranching operations and infrastructure. “Without total communication we will never solve the problems and we will not have any way to evaluate the progress in solving the problem,” Lytle says. “If we keep hammering on this terrible problem maybe the right person in the right situation will be there to affect a permanent solution to the problem before there are more major tragedies such as Rob Krentz.”

A couple of years ago I was involved in the Arizona Livestock Incident Response Team training and we spent a day on a border ranch. The stories the rancher told about the drug smuggling and the illegal aliens with weapons crossing his rugged landscape was enough to curl my hair. Yet still because he was a humanitarian he provided water around the ranch for the illegal immigrants crossing it, only to be rewarded with broken water pipes and cut fences. I applaud the Arizona Cattle Growers for putting together a plan and working with local, state and federal law enforcement to protect the individuals who make their living raising cattle along our border as it is truly a dangerous profession in today’s world.

Geni Wren
Editor, Bovine Veterinarian Magazine