Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ariz. Ranchers Caught Up In Mexican Drug Violence

About 1,000 people showed up over the weekend at a memorial service for Robert Krentz, 58, an Arizona rancher who was shot and killed along with his dog — presumably by a drug smuggler. Neighbors worried a tragedy like this would happen. Friends and neighbors gathered for Krentz's funeral and lunch afterward at the historic Gadsden Hotel in Douglas, Ariz. These folks live in ranch houses five, 10, 20 miles apart. They depend on one another to manage livestock and to communicate vital information. It's always good to get together face to face — though the talk following the murder of one of their own was not about the weather. It was about personal safety. "We were always concerned," says rancher and veterinarian Gary Thrasher, who spoke on the sidewalk outside the Gadsden Hotel. "I travel out in that area totally by myself in my truck to these ranch calls, and yeah it makes me a lot more nervous." "Oh, I'm tired of it," says rancher John Ladd, who lives with his wife and dogs right on the U.S. side of the border west of Douglas. "It's just every day there's something." We can see the border fence out the kitchen window where we're sitting. That's the border fence built a couple of years ago to keep people out. Ladd says the Border Patrol doesn't keep a constant presence next to the fence, so people climb it with ladders, screwdrivers stuck into the fence mesh, even Mexican ponchos, serapes, thrown on top of the fence. Ladd says he's counted 47 groups crossing onto his land in just the last three weeks. More than 300 people. "From right here," Ladd says. "That's the numbers I'm telling you. I don't count the stuff on the ranch."...more

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