It's not every day that a well-known neo-Nazi offers to take you to a place called "the slaughterhouse."
But that's what Mesa neo-Nazi J.T. Ready did on Saturday, leading a group of neo-Nazis, militia-types, and some seriously naive individuals to "secure" an abandoned building by that name on Vekol Road, off Interstate 8.
Ready held a press conference at a picnic area near mile marker 151 along I-8. I split the gas with videographer Dennis Gilman, who'll be posting a video shortly of the excursion.
Apparently after most of the press had left the area, Ready's group came across a dead body. They also claim to have encountered three live undocumented migrants. The Pinal County Sheriff's Office confirmed that they did receive a call from the Border Patrol regarding a dead body, but that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office ultimately took the call.
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner confirmed that an unidentified male body was turned over to them today by MCSO, but could offer no other details until an exam is done Tuesday morning. The Border Patrol said it cannot confirm details of three undocumented being turned over to them. I've put in a request for info from the MCSO. J.T. Ready's statement about the find is at the end of this blog post.
On Saturday, Ready had assembled nine or so men and one woman for the press conference. Included in the group was Ready's fellow neo-Nazi Harry Hughes, and National Socialist Movement regional director Jeff Hall, who came in from California.
Some individuals kept their faces hidden. Nevertheless, at least two others were neo-Nazis I'd spotted at other protests or counter-protests in the past.
Ready and his followers were heavily armed with AR-15s, shotguns, handguns and loads of ammo. They also had gas masks, black helmets, and other gear laid out for the media who where there, a group that included a pair from Fox 10, a woman from CBS, and others.
Hall, Ready, and the others were careful not to exhibit swastikas and other obvious neo-Nazi symbols during the event. The weekend warriors wore standard surplus camouflage and hung American flags from the picnic shelters, rather than, say, NSM's swastika-bearing banner.
Ready dodged questions as to why he wasn't flying NSM colors (though his car has a license plate that reads "NSM USA"). He objected to being called a neo-Nazi, and preferred to be regarded simply as a "National Socialist."
I've discussed this issue with Ready at length, and he'd even written a letter previously to threaten legal action against New Times if the paper continued to refer to him as a "neo-Nazi," which is exactly what he is. In fact, the word "Nazi" is itself simply short for Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the original Nazi party of Hitler fame.
Ready himself has used the word "Nazi," such as when he told an interviewer in Riverside, California, during a demonstration there, "Nazi Germany was a great country. Adolf Hitler was an excellent white civil rights leader."
At Saturday's event, the NSM's Jeff Hall explained:
"Nazi was created from the word National Socialist to begin with. Basically, it was a catchphrase, used in propaganda. We're National Socialists. We don't hide, we don't water down anything that we do. Or our message. Or our symbols."
I mention all this because Ready was doing exactly that -- watering things down -- for this "border ops" hunt for "narco terrorists," as he described them. Some irresponsible news outlets are helping Ready appear more mainstream, specifically ABC 15, which in a recent report described Ready's operation as a "citizens group taking [the] border battle into [its] own hands."
Sorry, but a vigilante operation led by a neo-Nazi with a criminal record and a checkered past that includes being court-martialed twice and booted from the Marines -- an operation that includes a heavy contingent of neo-Nazis -- is, in essence, a neo-Nazi patrol, even if a few non-schutzstaffel-wannabes are in the mix.
(Note: In comparing his operation to similar Minuteman operations, Ready slyly mentioned Sean Pearce, state Senator Russell Pearce's son: "The Minuteman project, that's a great thing. I was there in 2005, actually with Sean Pearce, Russell Pearce's son. We were right on the line down there. On the Naco line.")
The few non-National Socialists present included Jess Boggs, a self-proclaimed 21-year-old Apache "tracker" dressed in a Chewbacca-esque outfit known as a ghillie suit.
Essentially, Boggs played the part of the token non-white for Ready. Boggs said he was there because he wanted to stop the flow of drugs into the state, and he was carrying an AR-15 that Ready had let him borrow.
When I asked Boggs why he wanted to be a part of a gaggle of neo-Nazi racists who believe non-whites are inferior to whites, Ready jumped in.
"We don't make that statement, Steve," he admonished.
Boggs chimed in, "I think it's wrong what you're saying right now."
Thing is, the National Socialist Movement's "25 points" program makes it clear that the party wants an all-white citizenry.
Point four states: "Only members of the nation may be citizens of the state. Only those of pure White blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. Non-citizens may live in America only as guests and must be subject to laws for aliens. Accordingly, no Jew or homosexual may be a member of the nation."
Also, I was reminded of Ready's argument with a Native American man at the May 29 anti-SB 1070 demonstration at the state Capitol, where Ready was counter-protesting. Ready told the man to go "enjoy some firewater" and joked about trading the man some beads for his shoes.
"Go dance around naked and enjoy yourself," Ready told him. "Get back to your culture. It's a great culture that invented nothing. Stone tools. Stone age."
At another point in the conversation, he told the same man of Native Americans, "You can't even figure out how to sit on a log. You sat around with your balls in the dirt."
And yet, here Ready had snookered some young man -- putatively an Apache -- into buying his line of hogwash. I felt sorry for Boggs, particularly when he told me later he wanted to be a cop someday, and I gently suggested that his participation in a neo-Nazi event would be a black mark against him.
He wasn't the only one so snookered. At the last minute, Ready's Sand Land Nazi patrol was joined by Michael Baker, who said he was an electrician from Peoria. Baker had heard about the stunt on TV and decided to come down and volunteer his services, his semi-automatic rifle, and his .44 caliber handgun.
Baker seemed like a nice enough guy. So why didn't he have any problems with being associated with a neo-Nazi led operation?
"I don't see anyone sporting a swastika," he noted. "So, you know, right now I can support them."
What kind of cartoon world do we have to live in before people get it? One where the bad guys are clearly labeled in SS uniforms and mimicking fake German accents like they just stepped out of Inglorious Basterds?
The mild-mannered "Shawn" of the Utah Patriot Militia, who had flown from the Beehive State to camp out in the Vekol Valley with Ready, didn't seem to grok the insanity of the situation either, though he spent several minutes telling me that one of his big goals was to get the militia movement to run background checks on everyone to weed out the bad apples, like, you know, neo-Nazis, I guess.
"I personally just consider myself to be a patriot," he told me while holding Boggs' Chihuahua "Tinkerbell," adding, "Not everyone here shares the same ideology."
The "securing" of the abandoned slaughterhouse, a site day trekkers travel to check out with their kids, as you can see from this online photo essay from the Maricopa Off-Road Club, was silly in the extreme.
Ready made it seem as if narco-terrorists might be ready to spring from any corner of the hollow structure. Boggs in his Mr. Snuffleupagus get-up kept the media at bay until Ready called the all-clear. Ready's patrol then cried "to the hill," meaning a 10-foot mound of dirt outside the building.
After making this brief climb, Ready tossed a smoke canister into the midst of it, and a purple cloud appeared. Like a Cactus Country Colonel Kurtz, Ready announced that the dirt mound would be their campsite for the night. The reason for the purple smoke?
"We're letting the cartels know this is our territory now," he said.
Um, okay, but wasn't the whole point to engage those vicious narco-terrorists? Unless narco-terrorists are terrified of the color purple.
With the sun waning and nothing going on at J.T.'s well-armed Boy Scout camp, Gilman and I decided to vamoose. We left behind radio journalist Carlos Galindo, his wife, and another fellow they had with them.
Galindo had gone down there to act as an observer and to offer humanitarian aid if needed to anyone Ready might come across. But the next day, Galindo told me he bugged out around 1 a.m. when it became apparent that Ready was not going to allow his group to follow them on their patrols, as promised.
I think Galindo went down there with good intentions, but I'm glad for his sake that he got out while the getting was good. According to Galindo, things got tense after he caught a couple of Ready's crew sans masks with his nightvision camera. The situation could easily have turned ugly.
Early Sunday morning, Ready associate Harry Hughes posted a report to his blog "Just Another Day..." with pictures of the bonfire they'd built, and with this observation:
"Due to media coverage and the sudden rise in human activity in the area, I don't think any illegal aliens or drugs will pass through this area until after we leave. Smugglers will either take the night off or pick another route."
Of all the National Socialists I've ever met, Hughes is the most personable, and I actually find his blog an amusing read. But though he may have been right about the smugglers (Vekol Valley has been labeled a drug corridor by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office), he may have been off about the illegal aliens.
Ready issued a press release later that same day claiming that he and his group had come across three live migrants and one dead body in the desert. Ready's statement is below, unedited in any way by me. As mentioned above, I'm still gathering details from the authorities to try and confirm portions of his claims.
One interesting aside: Ready had said that an unmanned drone from Glenn Spencer's American Border Patrol would be part of his operation, though I witnessed none. I called Spencer about this. He told me that he did not participate in Ready's patrol, and that the FAA has grounded his group's drones. "We haven't had an unmanned drone in five years," he said.
"LINE IN THE SAND Operation LINE IN THE SAND was a resounding success. A multi-ethnic coalition of citizens was assembled to battle the Drug Cartel's narco-terrorists in the Arizona desert on the outskirts of Phoenix metropolitan area. An ad hoc raid team also known as Ready's Rangers was assembled from heavily armed volunteers from around the nation. Patrol Leader J.T. Ready lead an assualt on a drug smuggling compound known as the "Slaughter House" by locals. After securing the area without incident a desert command post was established consisting of militia units, humanitarian aide representatives, and national media covering the event. Recon patrols were conducted for twenty four hours in narco-terrorist held territory of the United States. These sweeps had the overall effect of denying access to the territory from drug cartel incursions and preventing the delivery of chemical warfare in the form of illicit drugs to our community. Local CI's (Confidential Informants) reported seeing drug trains pushed deep into the rugged mountains away from the armed patrols. Three live UDA's (Undocumented Aliens) were captured and one UDA corpse was found by the teams. The crime scene was processed by an inter-agency representation of Pinal Co. Deputies, Maricopa Co. Deputies, and agents from the Bureo of Land Management who responded to calls made by the teams in the vacinity of the anti-terrorist operation. No major injuries were sustained by volunteers. Medical aid was given to treat heat exhaustion injuries of the UDA's by Ready's Rangers. The UDA corpse is currently being processed by the Maricopa County Coroner's office. End of Statement. JT Ready (you have my express permission to use this statement for all media distribution)"
(For an update on the body found by the neo-Nazis, please see my follow-up blog post on the subject.)