"CHIEF DEPUTY STEVE HENRY: Good morning. No, not a border county. Good morning, I’m Steve Henry, Chief Deputy, Pinal County, Arizona, and I’m here on behalf of Sheriff Paul Babeu. Many of you probably know who he is. And we do have a few things to say about this, because we live and breathe this every day.
Pinal County, for those of you that – for a small geography lesson – is located about 70 miles north of the United States-Mexican border. And the only thing separating the southern country line and Mexico is an Indian reservation. There’s not a whole lot going on down there except for smuggling. And of course, we don’t have any law-enforcement powers, normally, on an Indian reservation, unless you’re a nontribal member.
Fortunately, the smugglers are nontribal members, so we can do enforcement there. It’s not very well – it’s not very popular with the Indian tribe, but we still do it. Essentially, what we do every day is actually in combat to what the federal government seems to view as something that’s very innocuous and unimportant. For us, national security and sovereignty is important, and that’s why we’re involved in this each and every day.
And this has a direct effect on the citizens that not just live in Pinal County, not just live in Arizona but live throughout this country. You know, as the sheriff said earlier, what happens in Mexico or Arizona on Monday happens in his county on Thursday. It’s very, very true.
You know, it’s not hard to go from the United States-Mexican border at the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, move up to I-8 – which is in Arizona, which is in my county – slip over to I-10, and then from I-10, go to the East Coast. Or slip up on I-17, another 35 miles, and get on I-40 and move to the East Coast and everywhere else in between. It happens every day.
Essentially, when I – when I speak about sovereignty and national security issues, it’s for a reason, because under the Department of Defense definition of terrorism, the drug cartels are terrorists. And so in our backyard, our number-one trading partner in America – our number-two trading partner in Arizona – is Mexico. And we have terrorists in our backyard that operate with impunity each and every day, to the demise of Americans, to the demise of their own country, and to the demise of their own sovereignty in Mexico.
And that has a direct effect – a chilling direct effect – each and every day in Arizona, each and every day in America as a whole. You know, we go to Libya. We go to Afghanistan. We go to Pakistan. And we, for lack of a better word, we punish the terrorist organizations, because we are at war with terrorism. And as the president said before, there are no boundaries on terrorism. Well, it’s in our backyard, and we’re doing nothing about it at the federal level. We really aren’t.
I mean, it’s piecemeal. I’m not saying that we’re not doing exactly nothing. I mean, boots on the ground is fantastic. I mean, we have a great relationship with the Border Patrol, a great relationship with ICE, HSI. But when you get into the leadership aspect of those organizations, it’s almost “see no evil, hear no evil.” But the people on the ground do understand.
My deputies go out each and every day. It’s like sending them to Iraq or Afghanistan. They have to wear heavy body armor. They have to wear helmets. They have to wear night vision. The enemy operates at night. And we all know that, and so that’s the way we operate as well. We’re outgunned; we’re outmanned. They have the same technology that we do. They have encrypted radios.
They have solar chargers for their radios on top of lookouts. We have over 100 lookout positions in the United States that are manned by armed criminals from another country. That’s a sovereignty issue. That’s a national security issue in our own country. And if you don’t believe me, come down and visit me. I’ll take you to them. I’ll show you. I myself go out and work these missions with my deputies.
You know, we’ll come out of a helicopter, we’ll swoop out of the sky, we’ll land at an LP, and five or six guys dressed in BDUs will take off with AK-47s and run down the mountain from us. And we have to clear those things tactically. We can’t chase these people through the desert. We don’t have the manpower or the air assets to do it, most of the time. So we still have to clear the cave, or clear the OP, or whatever we’re doing at that moment.
And you can’t chase those people. And then when we do chase them, the probability of getting in a gunfight is quite huge. And I don’t know about you, but the idea of facing off with two or three guys that have nothing to lose – because if they go back home after they’ve been arrested, they’re probably going to get killed anyway, as you’ve probably all seen on the internet – I guess the wonderful thing and the bad thing about technology is, everything’s on it.
The narco-cartels own their own blogs. They own their own URLs. You can go and do the research yourself, and see what they’re doing to their own people. If you want to talk to me afterwards, I’ll give you the web pages. It’s disgusting. It’s tragic, and it’s crimes against humanity. And it happens each and every day.
And you know, if you don’t think this is spilled over into America, you’re wrong. Chandler, Arizona, last year – a beheading directly related to narcoterrorism. And it was a hit, because someone snitched, or whatever it was.
So what’s going on in Mexico is going on in America. You know, you have 40,000-plus people that are murdered in Mexico, directly related to the drug war that the Mexican government’s conducting right now. I would tell you that that 40,000 people is an inaccurate number. That’s just 40,000 have been reported or found. I bet you there’s another 85 to 100,000 people behind that – they just haven’t produced the bodies yet.
Let’s talk about some numbers on the American side. According to the United States Border Patrol, just in the Tucson sector alone – which is in Arizona, and there’s many sectors on the border – last year they apprehended about 200,000-and-change people coming across the border, just in that sector. They admit, or tell us, that it’s only one-third of the people that came across the border. So we’re only getting one out of three."
According to a stunning Fusion investigation, 80 percent of women and girls crossing into the U.S. by way of Mexico are raped during their journey. That’s up from a previous estimate of 60 percent, according to an Amnesty International report.