Armed Border Militiamen Mistakenly Confront Conservationists Counting Bats
A group of heavily-armed border militia members mistook conservationists researching bats for illegal immigrants or smugglers, and confronted them in a scenario that could have gone terribly wrong.
On Aug. 23rd in the Gardner Canyon area, a small group of conservationists ventured out in the middle of the night to conduct a wildlife population survey, in this case, counting bats, according to Tuscon News NOW.
According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, the armed militiamen were on ATVs and wearing camouflage.
“Obviously, they mistook them for smugglers or illegal entrants,” Estrada said. “They were armed. They put a spotlight on them.”
A report was filed with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department by the conservationists.
The are the militia group sought to catch migrants, happened near Sonoita where people camp and hike and hunt, according to the paper.
One of the militiamen apologized to the group of conservationists, who apparently did not want to hear it, according the Sheriff.
“Of course, they weren’t very receptive about the apology. They actually told them that’s something you should not be doing. There’s danger out there.There’s other groups of people in campsites,” Estrada said.
Sheriff Estrada says Santa Cruz County is not receptive to militia groups.
“These people that are completely out of their environment. They really don’t know the area. They don’t know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem,” Estrada said. “We really don’t want them here.”
“It can be a problem for them. It can be a problem for the people, just like in this particular case. Things could have gone terribly wrong,” Estrada continued. “They really don’t accomplish anything. They really don’t. With about 1,000 Border Patrol Agents here in Santa Cruz County, a little group of any militiamen are not going to make any difference at all. As a matter of fact, they’re going to get in the way and they could get hurt. Or they could hurt somebody else.”
After the militiamen called Border Patrol agents who had to travel to the area, they encountered people studying bats.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent us a written statement regarding the incident. Via Tucson News:
“On August 23, at approximately 10 p.m., Tucson Sector agents received a phone call from a member of a militia group reporting suspicious activity in the area of Sonoita, Arizona. Sonoita station agents responded and encountered a small group of biologists studying bats.
CBP does not endorse or support any private group or organization to take border security matters into their own hands as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences. CBP strongly encourages concerned citizens to call the U.S. Border Patrol and/or local law enforcement authorities if they witness or suspect illegal activity.
Securing our nation’s borders can be dangerous. Interdicting narcotics and deterring and apprehending individuals illegally entering the United States requires highly-trained, law enforcement personnel. In all cases, individuals should not attempt to detain, provide transportation or any other assistance to migrants that may be viewed as furtherance of illegal entry. Detaining or assisting an undocumented migrant could result in prosecution.”
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