Soon as in 30-60 says. Sheriff Paul Babeu is predicting that he and his out manned and out gunned forces will be engaging cartel paramilitaries in the near future:
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is anticipating an armed conflict between his deputies and cartel members within the next 30 to 60 days.
Babeu made that prediction last week as he addressed an Ahwatukee Foothills Republican women’s club, and reiterated it Tuesday on the heels of a speech by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asserting that border communities are safer than ever.
A gunbattle is all but certain, Babeu told The Arizona Republic, because his deputies and members of a regional SWAT team are now routinely working to stop smugglers from pushing cargo through Pinal.
“We have had enough,” Babeu said. “That’s why we’re going into these areas and sending a very clear message to the cartels: We see you and we’re not going to let you through.”
An outspoken critic of U.S. immigration policy, Babeu said cartels have stepped up their tactics in Pinal County by reinforcing smuggling routes with armed guards to ward off potential bandits, in addition to stationing more lookouts on high points of the landscape. Some bandits are impersonating police, Babeu said, and he worries that smugglers won’t know the difference.
“When we announce ourselves in Spanish, ‘This is the sheriff, drop your weapons, this is an arrest,’ I pray every time they will surrender,” Babeu said. “In the event that any of them decide to point their weapons at our deputies . . . my directive is there had better be rounds going downrange to neutralize that threat.”
Last year, the Sheriff’s Office reported seizing 44,189 pounds of marijuana, initiating 335 vehicle pursuits and making 370 calls to Border Patrol for assistance with suspected illegal immigrants. In 2007, deputies seized 28,903 pounds of pot, had 142 pursuits, and called Border Patrol 188 times.
Pinal County is about 70 miles from the border so the amount of activity they are seeing – including bandits targeting smugglers – means that border security is a joke at best. If you are in or near Pinal County get ready.