Monday, September 12, 2016

Ranchers fear drug cartels more than immigrants at US-Mexico border

On a sweltering summer evening in southern Arizona, dozens of carpet-soled moccasins lie along the portico of a ranch 20 miles from Mexico, serving as a reminder of one of the biggest problems on the border: not illegal immigration, but drug trafficking. Interrupted only by the cicadas, Jim Chilton, a fifth-generation rancher, and his wife Sue explain that Mexican drug mules, who routinely traverse their 50,000 acres of land, cover the soles of the moccasins — which are then worn over shoes — with carpet to avoid leaving tracks that US border agents could follow. Mr Chilton, whose ranch stretches back to a simple barbed wire fence that separates the US from Mexico, was speaking the day before Donald Trump hardened his stance on illegal immigrants in a speech in Phoenix. The rancher says he backs the mogul and his plan to build a wall on the border because it would reduce the influence of the Mexican cartels. “We live in an area controlled by the Sinaloa cartel,” says Mr Chilton who has installed motion-sensor cameras on his land to capture video of the drug mules. “We have a mountain back here, Sinaloa cartel scouts resided on it. [On] all of the mountains back here, we’ve seen cartel scouts … In fact, they may be watching us now.” While Mr Trump’s wall has resonated from Iowa to Ohio, as well as with Mr Chilton, many border residents in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California are not concerned about illegal immigrants. A recent poll by Cronkite News, Univision News and The Dallas Morning News found that 72 per cent of Americans in border cities opposed the wall, although there has been no comparable study for rural areas, where the population is less Hispanic and where drug traffickers tend to have an easier time getting into the US than at the official border ports...more

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