Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Deputy Shot by Suspected Ilegal Immigrants

Saturday, May 1, 2010 |

Arizona deputy wounded in desert shootout found.

The Associated Press

Arizona State, US - A sheriff's deputy was shot and wounded Friday after encountering a group of suspected illegal immigrants who apparently had been hauling bales of marijuana along a major smuggling corridor in the Arizona desert — a violent episode that comes amid a heated national debate over immigration.

State and federal law enforcement agencies deployed helicopters and scores of officers in pursuit of the suspects after the deputy was shot with an AK-47 on Friday afternoon. The officer had a chunk of skin torn from just above his left kidney, but the wound was not serious and he was doing fine.

The shooting was likely to add fuel to an already fiery national debate sparked last week by the signing of an Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration in the state.

The deputy was found in the desert Friday afternoon — after a frantic hourlong search — suffering from a gunshot wound from an AK-47, Pinal County sheriff's Lt. Tamatha Villar said. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Casa Grande, about 40 miles south of Phoenix.

Villar said the deputy had been performing smuggling interdiction work before finding the bales of marijuana and encountering the five suspected illegal immigrants, two armed with rifles.

"He was out on his routine daily patrol in the area when he encountered a load of marijuana out in the desert. He obviously confronted the individuals and took fire," Villar told The Associated Press. "I was speaking with him just a bit ago, and he's doing fantastic."

The deputy was alone about five miles from a rest stop along Interstate 8, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. The area is a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior.

"Over the past 12 months we've seen an increase in the amount of drugs, and an increase in violence that has been going on in this particular corridor," Villar told KPNX.

"We've had increasing concerns in this area about being outmanned and outgunned, and unfortunately this evening, this is coming true," he said.

The shooting came as Arizona grapples with backlash over its enactment of a tough new law targeting illegal immigration. Civil rights activists, concerned the law will lead to racial profiling, have called for a boycott of the state.

The law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer last week is supported by many in the state, which has become a major gateway for drug smuggling and human trafficking from Mexico.

Its passage came amid increasing anger in Arizona about violence, drug smugglers, drop houses and other problems caused by poor border security.

Villar said the search for the suspects involved numerous helicopters from state and federal law enforcement agencies and scores of officers near Interstate 8 and Arizona 84 about 50 miles south of Phoenix.

"The deputy is a search-and-rescue deputy, so its not uncommon for them to work those areas A) looking for drugs and B) looking for people who need assistance out there," Villar said. "Obviously its a high-traffic area for drug- and human-smuggling."





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9 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a whole lot of BS to me. First of all why would a deputy go out to the desert alone to look for illegals let alone Drug Smugglers. I guess they don't read the papers to know that they don't care who they shoot and kill. Second of all if someone is shooting with an AK47 dont you think it would have done way more damage than just take a chunk of skin off. And how do we know they were illegals. Its not only illegals that are smuggling drugs. I guess they dont know that La Barbie is an American Citizen and he's at the top of the drug cartel.
I think they are just trying to add fuel to the illegals fire..

Anonymous said...

I was asking myself the same quetions, I guess now the round ups will intensified!

Anonymous said...

In answer to the poster calling bs.
single patrol seems to be the norm in most law enforcement scenarios. budgets stretched thin too many miles to cover. Lucky the leo that has a partner to watch his back.
secondly it does not mater to a legally appointed officer of the law whether criminals come in one or a bunch they will still go toe to toe with the cowards.
thirdly ballistics are a funny thing. too many variables to have a knee jerk reaction "would have done way more damage than just take a chunk of skin off." do not second guess how he survived just be glad he did. I have read many accounts of people surviving gun shots so why not this officer. I hope he gets a commendation for bravery.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree w/anonymous 1...i guess these unidentified individuals didn't have their green cards when the lone deputy asked them to proof of residency(sarcasm)...

people + drugs + on the exact border DOES NOT EQUAL illegal immigrant! So illegal immigrants are the ONLY ones who do this? Really? Such ignorance...

Anonymous said...

I think a bullet to all their heads is in order.

Anonymous said...

To the ignorant "mathematician".... people + drugs anywhere = crime. Possession of illegal drugs anywhere is a crime. Entering the United
States through the desert trying to avoid inspection is also a crime.

Very few humans achieve your level of ignorance. Congratutalations!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Anonymous-6 (the ignorant reader), "el burro hablando de orejas." (the donkey talking about ears)...your response to the anonymous that posted his/her comment @4:48pm on May 01, 2010 isn't even arguing if people + drugs anywhere equals a crime or not (IT'S UNDERSTOOD THAT IT IS A CRIME, but thank you for confirming that to us). This is what I understood from reading this person's comment (and the first comment also states this):

Just because a person is avoiding inspection and is trying to cross drugs across the border, it does not mean he/she is an illegal immigrant. (notice how it does not question/dispute if this is a crime or not, that is not the topic of the discussion)

Anonymous-6, you took your level of ingorance to a whole new record low (you don't even know how to understand a simple statement/"equation")...I wish you the best in your endeavor to become the world's most ingorant being!



My comment:
The article could have used a different set of words to describe the drug traffickers...regardless, i agree with the comment that says "do not second guess how he survived just be glad he did." The deputy was only doing his job (stopping crime) and wish him a fast recovery.

Borderland Beat said...

We are trying our best not to allow this to run away to the immigration debate, this should be about organized crime. We posted this story because it was reported that the offenders were drug traffickers from Mexico and were suspected of being armed with AK-47s.

We understand that sometimes our comments speak of both issues, as some believe both issues are connected, but we are moderating comments that only attempt to bring out the issue of illegal immigration, pros or cons.

This is not the venue. Thank you for your understanding.

Bob Decker said...

I agree with the Boderland Beat post that says they are trying not to allow this to run away to the immigration debate and hope that future acts by organized criminals will not be a part of this debate unless the criminal enterprise is trafficking in people.

Calling drug traffickers involved in acts of organized crime and attempted murder "illegal immigrants" is like calling them pedestrians. Stop trying to drag the immigration issue into every violent crime. We in law enforcement resent this type of exploitation. The sheriff's office refers to this area as a place where both "Illegal aliens and Drug Traffickers" enter the country." This incident was attributed to the drug traffickers. Many have U.S. citizenship. Many do not.

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