All it takes is a cell phone text and bit of garbled audio to get Sheriff Joe Arpaio running around like a chicken sans head.
"America's toughest sheriff"? Puh-lease.
As was reported by Fox 10 back on July 29, and is now being regurgitated by The Drudge Report and the Associated Press, a text mail version of what they used to call a chain letter was received by a Valley dude.
It essentially said that a Mexican drug cartel was "offering a million dollars for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's head and offering a thousand dollars for anyone who wants to join the Mexican cartel."
Couple of points here: If some Mexican cartel kingpins wanted to off Arpaio, they'd just do it. They wouldn't circulate a dumb text mail about it.
Secondly, Arpaio is good for cartel business in Arizona. When's the last time you've ever heard of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office going after cartel operations here in Sand Land?
Nah, Arpaio, true to his nickname "Nickel Bag Joe" would rather round up undocumented car washers, maids and workers at the Sizzler (literally). Arpaio doesn't mess with organized crime, and organized crime doesn't mess with him.
So the MCSO stays focused on the small fry, and everyone's happy. That is, everyone who is corrupt.
This $1 million joke is only the latest in a long line of bogus death threats that our geriatric gendarme has milked for publicity.
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.
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As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I once asked the MCSO for all the docs they had on threats to the sheriff. They coughed up a bunch of nothing: Some Internet threat from Canada; county jail inmates who'd somehow gotten hold of Arpaio's home phone number; and so on. None of it panned out to anything serious.
In fact, I daresay that this latest "threat" is as legitimate as the one received by New Times staff writer Niki D'Andrea today. The difference is, Niki sussed hers out as a crock, and wrote a blog about it.
What did Arpaio and his staff do? Wail to the press that Arpaio's in danger.
So who has more intestinal fortitude, Mr. Tough Guy Arpaio, or Niki D'Andrea? I'll let you make that call.