Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Patrolling the route of smugglers

It's been called everything from a drug smuggling super highway to a pipeline for illegal immigration that leads straight to the Valley. News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Jim Cross rode along recently with Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Abernathy on patrol. Pinal County is the size of Connecticut. Most of the county is ranches and wide-open desert. "They'll come out here and then there's hundreds of thousands of ways they can come up through here," said Abernathy, looking out over the barren land. Smugglers fear very little and that includes law enforcement, Abernathy said. "Ten or 15 years ago, a lot of coyotes and smugglers, they would go the other way and sneak around. Now, they don't care. They don't care if you see them." A rancher agreed to talk to Cross, but only on the conditions that he not be taped and that his name not be used because he fears retaliation from smugglers. On many occasions, the rancher said illegal immigrants have kicked in the windows of his home, cut his barbed wire fences, and held him in the gunsights of an AK-47. The brutality of smugglers knows no bounds, Abernathy said. "If they think they're going to get caught or whatever, the coyotes (human smugglers) will just leave them. Most of the females who come across will usually get raped, several times."...more

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