‘Let’s Quit Lying, Work Together And Stop This Crap.’

El Paso Times

Sierra Blanca, TX — Lolo Lopez keeps a low profile when Hudspeth County sheriff’s deputies patrol the border near his ranch.

Lopez fears that armed Mexican drug smugglers, often concealed by thick 15-foot salt cedar shrubs on the banks of the Rio Grande, might mistake him for an informant.

‘They might shoot me when I’m alone,’ Lopez said.

Lopez, a rancher on the border for 20 years, is always fixing fences that smugglers knock down.

‘The narco-traffickers must think they own the river,’ Lopez said. ‘They don’t even let (undocumented workers) pass through here.’

The anger in Lopez’s voice is also detected in Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, who worries that his deputies might soon end up in body bags.

Escalating confrontations with armed Mexican drug smugglers are sowing fear and frustration, anger and insecurity in rural Hudspeth County, the state’s third-largest, with almost 5,000 square miles.

‘We’re going to get somebody killed,’ West said.

West, 40, an outspoken Sierra Blanca native with a pit-bull temper, has been bombarded by national media attention since his deputies chased three sport utility vehicles loaded with marijuana to the river six days ago.

Sheriff’s deputies said they encountered Mexicans in military uniforms on U.S. soil, armed with high-caliber weapons and driving a military-style Humvee. Mexican authorities denied their soldiers were involved in guarding illegal drug shipments.

‘Let’s clarify that it was the Mexican military. There’s no doubt in my mind,’ West said. ‘Let’s quit lying, work together and stop this crap.’

Though many politicians have requested formal investigations into the Hudspeth County incident and other reported intrusions along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, federal officials had not contacted West three days after the latest incident.

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