Katie Pavlich

No big deal....despite the fact that a stash of AK-47s was found along a hiking trail in not Colombia, not Mexico but in....Arizona.

A hiker in the Madera Canyon area found three assault rifles in a black trash bag one mile north of Old Baldy Trail.

After receiving a report of the discovery on Wednesday, June 20, the Pima County Sheriff’s Office determined that the rifles were found in Santa Cruz County, and notified the local sheriff’s office.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies then went to the site and recovered what turned out to be a stash of AK-47 assault rifles.

Lt. Raoul Rodriguez said the rifles were “badly rusted” and had “obviously been there for quite some time.” Four rifle magazines were also recovered.

Hikers apparently are now subject to Mexican drug cartels stashing powerful weapons along areas where they used to be able to safely enjoy being outdoors. I'll be interested to know if any of these guns are linked to Operation Fast and Furious however, even if they are, I doubt ATF will be letting us know because after all, more Fast and Furious weapons traced means more bad PR for Holder's Justice Department.

On a more serious note, this is an example of what local law enforcement is up against on a daily basis. It's a war down there. Learn more by reading about my ride along with a Pinal County Sheriff's SWAT Team member. 

Nearby is the infamous Vekol Valley, the largest hotbed of drug and human smuggling in the United States and where a Pinal County Deputy was shot in April 2010. Vekol is surrounded by nasty mountain ranges on both sides. There is wide-open desert starting from mile marker 160 on I-8 and stretching all the way to Mexico. Because of the terrain, Vekol acts as a funnel. As we drove into the area, I could feel that it just wasn’t a safe place to be.

Cartels also take advantage of the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation on the west side of Vekol Valley. They use it as an entry point, marry into Indian families so they can live on the reservation and, if a village is small enough, cartel members will simply walk in and take property by lethal force.

While we were driving near Vekol, Thomas explained the “terrain” problem to me after pulling off the side of the road to show me the “Travel Caution: Smuggling and Illegal Immigration May Be Encountered in This Area" sign provided by Homeland Security. (Remember, according to Janet Napolitano, the border is secure.) He said the cartels have a vast intelligence network. Men known as “spotters” sit up on the top of hills and mountains with cell phones and radios, calling drug running crews in the U.S. and Mexico about where Sheriff vehicles are located and where Border Patrol is cruising. Usually, as soon as Thomas shows up on patrol, the cartels are watching and know exactly where he is. For the spotters, failing to identify where U.S. authorities are located can result in a beating or even death. If a spotter calls into the boss in Mexico or down the road, says that they are clear to come through with a load, but then the authorities show up and seize the load, that spotter pays the price for the loss.

But these cartels aren’t just targeting Border Patrol. U.S. citizens travelling along I-8 who stop for a restroom break often find themselves carjacked right off the road. The area can’t be used for camping, hiking or hunting as it used to be because the area is dangerous and drug and human smugglers are carrying high-powered weapons like AK-47s.

“If you see too much you may get killed out here because they [cartel members] don’t want witnesses,” Thomas said.


Katie Pavlich

Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her new book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, will be published on July 8, 2014.

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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography