UPDATE: New signs unlike the sign above have replaced the one below and some say its because of the election and the need to show greater control of the border. The Pinal Sheriff said it was all politics but the sign below was placed in an area where he held a four day smuggling sting in northwest Pima/southwest Pinal to justify his request for a million-day anti-smuggling team. Investigative leads have brought in outside agencies to investigate a Pinal Deputy’s shooting allegedly tracking smugglers. Governor Candidate Jan Brewer stood in front of a sign like below and told Washington to “do its job” ranting about “heads in the desert” and some might say that all could be called politics. “I’m 80 miles away from the border and only 30 miles away from Arizona’s capital. This is an outrage. Washington says our border is as safe as it’s ever been. Does this look safe to you?” she asked. Still reports say Americans must take care driving Sonora in 2010 and to stick to the main roads or join organized tours who do business there regularly….end of update…
There was time when I would throw my camping gear in the car and take off and camp where ever the wind blew me.
Today I find myself questioning whether or not camping along the US-Mexico Border is as safe as it once was. I find myself considering whether a person alone carrying expensive camera gear is as safe as I once always thought. The Robert Krenz shooting in the SouthEast corner of Arizona says no. Shit happens, people say, until it happens to them. I have always known that crossers were honest hard working people crossing into Arizona’s Sonoran Desert are not the problem. I have seen dozens and know they simply wish to fade in the texture of the desert and reappear close to their goal and awaiting friends and family. God Bless them—I wish them well.
Having said all that, I still find myself thinking twice about venturing out and carefully considering my destination. I used to drive the border road between Nogales and the Coronado National Monument south of Sierra Vista, I frequently camped along it, heard occasionally things going bump in the night but never had a problem. I often camped in the riparian region called Sycamore Canyon west of I-19 along the Ruby Road south of the fantastic Tumacacori Highlands, no more.
The picture above was taken at the west end of Avra Valley Road–west of Marana–north of the Tucson Mountain chain but south of the magnificent Silverbell Range. That opening leads into the Tohono Oodham Reservation which is frequently used by smugglers. Violence in Mexico trinkles down to the little guy, the mules, the folks carrying the loads and if they lose their cargo, they too may lose and so, in the days of trickle-down economics, so may you. Daylight brings some safety and fewer issues arise with the sun but with nightfall, so comes Trouble. And everyone knows “Trouble rides a fast horse”, so be smart and safe. Get an early start home by dark, always carry spare water in case you find someone in trouble, but take care not to place yourself and loved ones in a compromised situation.
UPDATE: Two Mexican immigrants have been found shot to death in Pinal County 500 yards from a migrant camp, each with a single AK-47 round, the shootings occurred an area known as Antelope Pass, not far from where a Pinal County Sheriff Deputy was shot by smugglers five weeks earlier. One of the victims may have reported the shootings with a cellphone prior to dying from his injuries, when helped arrived, both were dead. A rifle was found with the victims and question whether or not, the victims were out were hunting or perhaps had been smuggling themselves.
FURTHER UPDATE: The Arizona DPS reports "militia groups" operating in the open desert with the intent to deter smuggling and capture illegal crossers. Many different points of view are represented in these groups and care should be taken around any group of heavily armed individuals. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu blasted the federal government during an Oct. 10 tea-party rally in Tucson for putting up the signs in English “instead of in Spanish, facing south, saying, ‘Stay out.’ “