There's no end to how Sheriff Joe Arpaio can spin anything for a bit of shameless self-promotion. In West Virginia Thursrday, Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum was shot while in his car on a lunch break. Moments later, and 1,950 miles away in Phoenix, this sad news is fed through Arpaio's media-perversion machine and emerges something like this:
"According to Maricopa County Deputy Chief of Patrol, Dave Trombi, today's killing of Sheriff Crum has heightened security concerns for Sheriff Arpaio. Arpaio's life has been the subject of numerous threats from many quarters ranging from members of Mexican drug cartels to mentally deranged individuals, according to Trombi."
Crum recently had cracked down on illegal drugs in the county. He was eating lunch in the same place he typically did, parked outside a recently closed pharmacy known to be a local "pill mill" because of the prescription drugs it dished out to addicts. Crum was shot in his car and later died of his wounds.
Mingo deputies later shot and arrested 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard, a suspect in Crum's murder, after he pulled a weapon on state police.
Maynard's father said his son had developed mental issues, telling the Associated Press "He would have probably shot anybody; the first one he come to, you know what I'm saying?"
His father also said, "I know he was off. I know he should have been in a hospital," and he added that his son had been injured and exposed to chemicals at a coal mine in Alabama.
How this tragedy relates to Arpaio, only Joe's ego could explain.
The press release from the MCSO also mentions the recent deaths of Kaufman County (Texas) District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife. The two were murdered in their home east of Dallas, and Arpaio also raises their deaths as reason to fear for his own safety.
The McLelland investigation is steering toward white supremacy groups, which McLelland had been after. Although authorities won't say specifically who they are investigating, McLelland was part of a task force that investigated the Aryan Brotherhood -- the same group that the Washington Post reported was the focus of a December local law enforcement bulletin warning that its members might try to attack police or prosecutors in the area.
At this point, we have a conspiracy reaching thousands of miles across the country in both directions involving a deranged former coal miner in West Virginia, possibly prescription pills, and a white supremacy group in Dallas, all of which tenuously links to the heart of this deluded fantasy: Maricopa County.
The problem here in Maricopa County is that Arpaio is used to certain outlets sipping up whatever drool he dribbles out, and he sees no reason why they won't continue.
PHOENIX - Sheriffs and high ranking officials say they are on high alert after a string of public leaders were murdered around the country.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for the slogan "Toughest Sheriff in America" is watching his back.
Lisa Allen, Arpaio's Media Relations Director, says the sheriff has been the target of serious threats before but this string of killings has everyone on heightened alert.
We are waiting to see what type of story tying these ends together will come out of Arpaio's fear-pimping machine. And how they string in the cartel will be interesting -- because if they can, of course, they will.
(On a cartel-related side note: New Times recently did a story on a group that smuggles drugs from Mexico to Phoenix. While these people buy large amounts of marijuana from the Sinaloa Cartel, they are not organizationally affiliated by any means. Several in this group, on several occasions, have thought out loud and joked on the merits and moral duty they have to Mexicans across the Southwest of hiring an assassin to go after Joe. But they said this in reference to his tactics of deporting families and his immigration sweeps. Not about foiling their work. In fact, while Joe pretends to be enforcing the law by locking up undocumented immigrants, Arizona continues to be the number one hub for drug smugglers.)
If Joe really wants to protect himself, maybe he should get some elbow or kneepads so he doesn't break any more bones. Maybe even a medical alert button: "Help. I've fallen and I can't get up."
This is only the latest attempt from Arpaio to use hyperbole to get attention. Don't forget the school patrols he hyped after children were massacred in Connecticut, and these previous snippets from an article by the Feathered Bastard from 2010 on the same "Sheriff Joe under siege" subject:
Arpaio told the AP that the last big price on his head was for $5 million.
I don't recall a $5 million fake threat, but I remember a $3 million bogus one. Back in 2007, it was revealed that the MCSO brain trust had spent $500K to investigate a supposed threat to bump off Joe for $3 million.
Guess who the MCSO thought was conspiring against our cracked constable? Get this, pro-immigrant leader Elias Bermudez, the minutemen, and Los Zetas. (Not to be confused with Z'Tejas...)
The whole fantasy was concocted by a paid confidential informant who flunked key portions of his polygraph and then disappeared.
Joe still believes this bull, or pretends to do so. He even put it in his book Joe's Law, which was packed with more prevarications than Satan's noggin'.
Then, if we hop in the way-back machine to 1999, there was the frame-up of James Saville, whom the MCSO arrested in a "sting" operation staged for local cameras.
The MCSO alleged Saville was going to plant a bomb under Joe's car. Totally false. Saville was eventually acquitted. He sued the county, and settled in 2008 for over $1 million.