Andrew Thomas Invents New Type of Crime: "Latin America-Style Violence"

By Ray Stern

There's your typical, garden-variety USA-style violence.

Even worse, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas seems to imply in his latest press release, is the dreaded "Latin America-Style violence."

But like the propaganda Thomas put forth in a recent public service announcement, Thomas' attempt to capitalize shamelessly on the public's xenophobia contains a dash of sheer nonsense.

In the release, Thomas states the defendants, (for whom he's seeking the death penalty), fired more than 100 rounds and wore "police-style clothing typically used for raids." Such tactics "previously had been foreign to the United States."

Thomas digs himself a deeper hole later in the release:

...this case represents a troubling new trend: Latin America-style violence on the streets of Phoenix.

This arguably racist phrase appears to be the handiwork of one of Thomas' top aides, Barnett Lotstein. A Google search for "Latin America-style violence" turns up just one precise match: An article from last month's Arizona Republic about Thomas using public funds to support a right-wing talk show host's book tour.

"The County Attorney's Office is pleased to work with KTAR in the fight against drophouses and related criminal activities," Lotstein said. "We appreciate their efforts to combat illegal immigration and the spread of Latin America-style violence to Maricopa County."

In fact, as sensational as this case was because of the purported link to the Mexican military, (which turned out to be bogus), the overall tactics used were obviously not "foreign to the United States."

In fact, shooting high-powered weapons while dressed in police-style body armor falls neatly into the category of work Americans will do. Take, for instance:

*A high-profile home invasion in 1997 in which the suspects pretended to be bounty hunters.

*The infamous 1997 North Hollywood shootout.

*A fatal church shooting last year.

*A suspect in a South Carolina shooting who was arrested this year.

*The suspect in a 2006 strip club shooting.

No question about it: The drug trade has fueled terrible violence in Mexico and other Latin America countries.

But whether the violence is "Latin America-style" or "United States-style" seems well in the realm of opinion, not fact. Especially when much of Thomas' "Latin America-style violence" is being committed with guns and ammo smuggled in from the United States.

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