Border Watch Part 2: Patrolling the border

NOGALES, Ariz. —  They traveled across the nation for a trip they’ll likely never forget.

From Michigan and Alabama to Florida and Colorado – in all, 9 states were represented.

These men and women choose to volunteer their time and money for a cause they strongly believe in.

“I think protecting our country is really important and Border Patrol, they can’t be everywhere at once so people like us can come down here and help and put eyes on things and keep America a little bit safer,” said Big Bird, a member from Florida.

Though they are dressed for war, their mission is much more tame.

“What we do down here is not vigilante justice, we have no special privileges, we have no special laws given to us to do anything that any other citizen can or can’t do,” said .50 Cal.  “We have no power of arrest, we have no power of detainment.”

“Our job is observe. Our job is to collect as much information as we can, our job is to track those folks, get a location, get it to the Border Patrol and let the Border Patrol handle the arrest,” he added.

It’s a far cry from what many think these men and women do.

“Most people look at us like we’re a bunch of crazy knuckleheads running around with guns,” said Mark Correll Sr., a member from Grand Junction.

“You get people going around saying ‘Oh, you just want to go out and shoot Mexicans which isn’t the case whatsoever,” said Crash, a member from Denver.

In fact, they’ve never fired a shot.

“Nobody from our organization has fired one shot at anybody down here,” said .50 Cal. “We have taken shots at us but at those times we’ve determined that the threat wasn’t great enough to return fire.”

“Although there is a threat down here, it doesn’t require you to go around just shooting at everything that moves and I think that’s where a lot of confusion comes from,” he added. “People see rifles, they see the camis, they see plate carriers and they think that we’re just down here trying to shoot somebody or hunt somebody and that’s far from the truth. This is protection for ourselves.”

Taking on the Cartels doesn’t come without danger.

“We’ve done this enough they know who we are because we affect their pocketbook heavily while we’re here,” said Ghost. “So if we’re not prepared and we’re not aware of that threat we’re going to come out on the losing end of that and I don’t want anybody leaving this operation with any holes in them. I want everybody to go home safe.”

“I put myself at risk because who else will?” said Yota. “I served my country, I took an oath of enlistment to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic and I’m bound by that oath until I take my last breath.”

In 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized almost 8,000 pounds of drugs along the border and nearly $290,000 in cash per day.

But while they are one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations, with 6,000 miles of international land borders and 2,000 miles of coastal border waters they’re still spread pretty thin.

“It’s really hard to cover such a vast area so when we come down here we shut down 7, 8, 20 miles of border fence and it creates a situation where the illegal immigrants or the Cartel members, the drug runners, have to push to get away from us and then they end up getting into Border Patrol’s custody,” said Yota.

It seems to work.

A Border Patrol agent told the III% United Patriots that because they were in the area, the Cartels were forced to use an old trail and Border Patrol was able to bust 16 runners and recover a massive amount of drugs.

On March 29, the local paper reported Border Patrol recovered nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana on the day mentioned. The recovered marijuana was valued at more than $480,000.

“To me that’s a mission accomplished down here and it’s just too bad we can’t be here all the time but I feel like we came down and we did our part,” said .50 Cal.

They admit it’s just a small dent in a much bigger problem but they believe every little bit helps.

“You’ve got kids and children getting a hold of this stuff and if we can limit the amount of drugs coming in it will make it that much harder to get,” said Crash.

The III% United Patriots say those who think they are racists out to get Mexicans have got it all wrong.

They’re after drug runners.

“There are virtually nobody crossing down here just looking for a better life. This is entirely drug country down here,” said Ghost.

They are a law abiding organization and anyone breaking the law should be prepared to face the consequences.

“We are a country of rules,” said Correll. “Those that have been here and behaved and been good. I think there needs to be a way that they can stay legally, but they’ve got to apply and there has to be a penalty that’s got to get paid somehow.”

This story is part of an ongoing Border Patrol series. Coming up next: the signs we found of people crossing the border and how things change from day to night.

 

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