Has the federal government abandoned land to the Mexican drug cartels?

Some interesting stuff floating around the web.

Because various federal land managers have posted warnings about drug smuggling and illegal entry problems, the stories are claiming the federal land managers have abandoned these lands to the Mexican drug cartels.

Wait a minute. If the National Forest posts signs saying “beware of bears”, does that mean the government has abandoned its lands to the bear cartel?

The warning signs are obviously a protest by federal land managers that  the Border Patrol has failed to stop illegal entry and drug smuggling into national forest, BLM, and other federal lands in the border region.

So rather than risk being sued by a tourist who encountered illegal entrants or drug smugglers, the federal land managers are trying to avoid liability by putting up these warning signs. It is the same legal theory as the “do not enter when flooded” signs all over Tucson…drive into a flooded wash and you can’t sue the city if you die.

Closing some segments off so tourists aren’t gunned down by drug smugglers sounds like a good way to avoid being sued by the relatives of the dead tourists. Some of these areas, such as in Organ Pipe National Monument, are where park rangers have been shot.

Who abandoned these areas to drug smugglers?

That these warning signs are all over the federal lands is a testament to America’s failed border security strategies and the absence of enough Border Patrol agents at the border to stop illegal entry and drug smuggling.

It should also be noted that there is a lot of conflict between the various federal land management agencies and the Border Patrol regarding fence construction, road building, and access to federally managed lands.

On top of that environmentalsists are more interested in protecting critters that live on these federal lands than supporting federal efforts to stop the flow of illegal entrants and drugs through federally managed lands. Thus they have attempted to impede the implementation of border security efforts on federal lands near the border.

So if the drug cartels have free run over federal lands, there are many reasons why this has happened.

One being the Border Patrol isn’t at the border.

Two being a lack of cooperation between federal land managers and the Border Patrol

Three being opposition from environmentalists about enhancing border security at or near the border.

Five Federal Lands in Arizona Have Travel Warnings in Place
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published June 18, 2010| FOXNews.com

Imagine the federal government closing a section of the Lincoln Memorial because it was under the control of Mexican drug lords and bands of illegal immigrants.

That scenario is playing out as reality in southern Arizona, where parts of five federal lands — including two designated national monuments — continue to post travel warnings or be outright closed to Americans who own the land because of the dangers of “human and drug trafficking” along the Mexican border.

Roughly 3,500 acres of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge — about 3 percent of the 118,000-acre park — have been closed since Oct. 6, 2006, when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials acknowledged a marked increase in violence along a tract of land that extends north from the border for roughly three-quarters of a mile. Federal officials say they have no plans to reopen the area.

Elsewhere, at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which shares a 32-mile stretch of the border with Mexico, visitors are warned on a federally-run website that some areas are not accessible by anyone.

“Due to our proximity to the International Boundary with Mexico, some areas near the border are closed for construction and visitor safety concerns,” the website reads.

On another page titled “Border Concerns,” the website warns that visitors should be aware that “drug smuggling routes” pass through the park.

“If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene,” the website reads. “Note your location. Call 911 or report it to a ranger as quickly as possible. Each year hundreds of people travel north through the park seeking to enter the United States.”

Visitors are also warned to be mindful of illegal immigrants within Ironwood Forest National Monument, a 129,000-acre federal parkland in the Sonoran Desert.

“All suspected illegal activities should be reported to [the Bureau of Land Management] or local law enforcement authorities,” Ironwood Forest’s website reads. “Visitors should stay safe by avoiding contact with persons exhibiting suspicious behavior or engaged in dangerous activities. Drive with caution and look for fast-moving vehicles and pedestrians on back roads.”

Dennis Godfrey, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management’s Arizona office, said roughly a dozen signs were posted earlier this month along the Sonoran Desert National Monument advising that travel in the area is not recommended due to “active drug and human” smuggling. The signs are not far from where a Pinal County deputy was shot and killed during a confrontation with marijuana smugglers in April and the fatal shooting of two men suspected to be drug smugglers.

“It is a corridor for smugglers of all types,” Godfrey told FoxNews.com.

Similar signs have been posted at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Coronado National Forest, which covers nearly 1.8 million acres in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

Estimates of exactly how many acres of federal land are closed due to safety concerns near the border were not immediately available, but at least one lawmaker told FoxNews.com that the policy of “ceding” federal land to drug and human trafficking is unacceptable.

“This is one of those things that the Department of Interior does not want to publicize,” said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, ranking Republican on the House Parks and Public Lands Subcommittee. “These bad actors are now being channeled into federal lands along the border because it’s so easy to make that access. The situation is getting worse on federal lands and will only get worse until we make some proactive activity to change the status quo.”

“Frankly,” Bishop continued, “the status quo is failing. We are failing to control our borders.”

Bishop, who has introduced legislation that would remove environmental restrictions the Department of Interior imposes on U.S. Border Patrol agents, questioned the message sent by federal authorities by closing off part of the Buenos Aires Refuge.

“That is a ludicrous message,” he said. “That policy in unacceptable. That strikes of running a policy of appeasement to drug cartels instead of fighting back. Someone has to say that not one inch of American property will be given to the bad guys and not one death is acceptable.”


About Hugh Holub

Attorney and writer.
This entry was posted in border issues, border patrol, border patrol tucson sector, border security, department of homeland security, mexican drug cartels, us customs and border protection. Bookmark the permalink.

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