Eighty-five miles northwest of Tucson lies the Sonoran Desert National Monument, a lovely area designated as a national park by one of the last acts of Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Today, the road to get there is closed. Signs warn Americans not to cross into territory south of Interstate 8, land the former president called “a magnificent example of untrammeled Sonoran desert landscape.” An ironic choice of words — untrammeled is defined as “not deprived of freedom; not restricted.”
An American national monument has become a drug-smuggling corridor between Mexico and the southwest. Wars between Mexican drug cartels have grown so severe in the park that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who manages it, says it’s too dangerous to enter.
The park sits in the Vekol Valley, which falls under the jurisdiction of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. Unlike BLM, Babeu has law enforcement obligations to uphold. In April, one of Sheriff Babeu’s deputies, Deputy Louie Puroll, was ambushed in the park while chasing six drug smugglers. Despite the fact that Puroll fired 46 rounds of ammunition at his assailants, he was outgunned, overtaken, and shot.
In a press conference earlier this month, the desperate sheriff called for help from the federal government, asking for as many as 3,000 soldiers:
We are out gunned, we are outmanned, and we don’t have the resources here to locally fight this. … We need action. People are getting killed out there. We have drug cartels at war with each other. … It’s shameful that we, as the most powerful nation on Earth … can’t even secure our own border and protect our own families.
With the federal government ignoring his pleas, Babeu faces an uphill battle — one that got bigger the third week in June. A group of neo-Nazis decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.
Jason “J.T.” Ready is a member of the Nationalist Socialist Movement. At the New Saxon website, described as a “Community for Whites by Whites,” J.T. Ready posted a call to arms: an anti-invasion operation in the Vekol Valley called “Border Ops,” which Ready describes as “the Minuteman Project on steroids!”