Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu recently announced that "drug cartels" control the area in his county where deputy Louie Puroll was allegedly shot at, and where two men were recently gunned down.
Now Babeu may be getting some assistance from an unwelcome and unsavory source: Vigilantes led by National Socialist Movement member J.T. Ready.
As I blogged back in May, Ready and fellow neo-Nazi Harry Hughes have been going on illegal alien "patrols" in Pinal County's Vekol Valley, dressed in camouflage and armed with assault rifles.
Now Ready has announced a "Border Ops" alert for this Saturday via his profile on the white supremacist New Saxon site, inviting participants to "bring plenty of firearms and ammo."
"Camouflage or earth tone clothing [is] preferred," according to the announcement. "Bandanas, balaclavas, or other identity concealing items are permissible and encouraged."
Ready's statement promises that, "This is the Minuteman Project on steroids! THE INVASION STOPS HERE!"
I called Ready to ask him if he had informed law enforcement about his operation, which he says will involve other NSM members and include an "incursion" into Mexico. He said his group has a law enforcement liaison flying in, but it didn't sound like he'd run any of this stunt past the local gendarmes.
"Our statement to law enforcement is to support us," said Ready. "With choppers...with SWAT teams and so forth. We're telling them to come down."
But Ready seemed to think it was time for he and his folks to take matters into their own hands.
"They're still waiting for the federal government to come in," scoffed the East Valley Ernst Rohm of the cops and county sheriffs. "We're not holding our breaths for that. We're exercising our rights. If they want to step on board with that, they're welcome to. If the federal government wants us to stop doing patrols, all they got to do is secure the border."
Through his press spokesperson, Sheriff Babeu issued a statement that noted, "People from across America are calling and writing to offer their support and even want to come patrol remote areas of the our Pinal County."
He continued, basically saying to anyone who might want to help -- including Hitler-lovers -- thanks, but no thanks.
"I do not ask or encourage them to come here," stated Babeu of armed volunteers. "Securing our international border and fighting these heavily armed smugglers is the responsibility of the federal government. Local law enforcement can't handle this on our own, yet it will only complicate our concerns to have untrained and armed citizens, who are not from Pinal County - patrolling our desert areas. We currently have operations that are ongoing and advised to not take law enforcement matter into their own hands."
Babeu did not specifically address the willingness of neo-Nazis to patrol Pinal County with assault rifles while wearing items to conceal their identities.
Ready claimed that there will be active military involved, which is why they would want to mask themselves. In his announcement, he says the neo-Nazis will be targeting "armed narco-terrorists...bringing in loads of chemical warfare into our nation."
The concern should be that Ready and any others who might participate in this little adventure could end up harming someone on the risible pretense of helping to secure the border.
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Ready has a criminal record. He was twice court-martialed and drummed out of the Marines. And he has swallowed whole and fully digested the rhetoric of the right-wing lunatic fringe. The idea of him running around the desert with a high-powered rifle on the hunt for "narco-terrorists" is not a comforting one, to say the least.
The Arizona Anti-Defamation League's Regional Director Bill Straus also found Ready's announcement unsettling.
"Number one, it's one more example of the mainstream and the extreme giving the appearance of moving closer together," he said. "Number two, in a volatile environment like we have in Arizona right now, with a volatile issue like this one is, I'm afraid every day of the possibility of violence occurring. When J.T. Ready or his ilk want to lead the charge and lead the way on the issue that possibility ramps up immeasurably."
In other words, let's hope Sheriff Paul Babeu, the FBI or someone is paying close attention to Ready's neo-Nazi treks in the desert. Writing Ready off as a clown is not an option, especially as long as he's armed.