A cattle-ranching couple in southern Arizona hopes that dramatic hidden-camera video showing suspected drug or immigrant smugglers crossing their property will help persuade federal officials to shift resources southward to eliminate what they call a dangerous “no-man’s land” along the border.
“It just confirmed what we already knew,” Jim Chilton, who runs the 50,000-acre ranch with his wife, Sue, said of the video, which was filmed this spring by a border-security advocacy group. …“We have ceded to the cartels 20 miles, 30 miles inside the United States.”
For years, the Chiltons have publicly complained — even testified before Congress — that their ranch southwest of Tucson, which shares a 5-1/2-mile border with Mexico, has been flooded with smugglers. They’ve told of surprise encounters with groups of migrants – some of them armed –- break-ins at their home and finding piles of trash and clothing left by the trespassers.
But they hope the new video footage will help others understand what they are up against.
“The fear we have is running across a group coming across with an AK-47 dressed in camouflage garb and carpet shoes and small backpacks on their backs carrying meth, crack or heroin,” said Jim Chilton.
With the Chiltons’ permission, a border-security advocacy group placed hidden cameras on well-worn paths in March and April about 10 to 15 miles north of the international boundary with Mexico, which is marked on their ranch only by a four-strand barbed wire fence.
In June, the advocacy group, which posts its video on the website SecureBorderIntel.org, returned and recovered footage of suspected smugglers crossing the ranch in broad daylight.