Arizona Park Rebounds After Years of Border Crime

Astrid Galvan, Yahoo! News, March 12, 2015

For over a decade, armed drug traffickers were so prevalent in this vast desert monument that visitors were barred from entering more than half of it.

One law enforcement group dubbed it America’s most dangerous park for two years straight after drug smugglers gunned down a ranger.

But a series of crackdowns and decreased traffic on Arizona’s border with Mexico have turned things around at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. For the first time since 2003, visitors can access all 516 square miles of the park named for a unique cactus breed that resembles a pipe organ with its long, narrow arms and short trunk.

The picturesque monument epitomizes the challenge of protecting visitors and government workers from the dangers of smuggling in southern Arizona, where large swaths of the border with Mexico are public land. Along the border and very near to it are four wildlife refuges, three national parks, two state parks and two wildlife conservation areas.

The 2003 closure of nearly 70 percent of Organ Pipe marked the first time in recent history that a national monument was largely closed because of threats posed by humans. It followed several incidents involving drug and human smugglers, including the 2002 death of Kris Eggle, a 28-year-old law enforcement park ranger killed while pursuing a group of smugglers.

For those brave enough to want to hike through the park’s closed areas, rangers armed with long rifles provided security on guided tours.


No crime figures are available just for Organ Pipe, but the Tucson sector–which comprises nearly all the Arizona border with Mexico, including the park–has seen a significant drop in activity in recent years.

The sector made 120,939 arrests in fiscal year 2013. In fiscal year 2014, which ended Sept. 30, that figure was roughly 88,000.

The number of pounds of marijuana seized in the Tucson sector also fell from 1.2 million in fiscal year 2013 to 971,180 in fiscal year 2014. The Border Patrol breaks down sector drug seizures only by pot and cocaine, although cocaine figures are extremely low.

It’s a stark difference from the early 2000s, when the largely remote, rural sector was the busiest and deadliest in the nation. Back then, agents were dealing with many armed traffickers who drove from the Mexican side of the border into the park, their vehicles outfitted in camouflage as they made their way north. Other smugglers carried loads of drugs through the desert on foot.


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  • voiceofstl

    This happen under the traitor Bush the jr.

    • Jason Lewis

      Jeb will be different. (sarc)

      • John Smith

        He will – worse.

        • I will vote for Shrillary if it comes to that.

          • John Smith

            I won’t go there, but Mickey Mouse as a write-in ticket with Goofy looks pretty good if there’s no Libertarian or Constitution Party candidates on the ballot.

          • I want a permanent end to any pretense to a Bush Presidential Dynasty, and would vote for Al $harpton in preference to Jeb.

          • Race War Provisions

            From “Prescott ‘Blood Money, Treason-Brewing’ Bush” to “Jeb ‘Stealing elections for my brother and selling out immigration for the Mestizo vote’ Bush” They are all bad, I can PROMISE you an entire work check if he steals the next election, this country is gonna avalanche down hill fast!

          • slobotnavich

            Christ, don’t do that. Sit out the election. In any event, I rather doubt that any Bush could get the nomination. This nation has terminal Bush-fatigue, and with good reason.

  • In a war, there can sometimes be a back and forth where territory is occupied by one side or another. There is still much more blood that will have to be spilled before this land is controlled by Americans on a long-term basis. The Mexicans will be back with guns blazing. But do Americans have the will to fight, especially as more “Americans” are actually Mexicans.

  • Cheri Rodriguez

    I’d never go into a national park alone or unarmed.

    • Cid Campeador

      We have become a nation of Milquetoasts. What we need to do is to declare war on their drug cartels. THe border should look like the defenses that the Germans had on the beaches of Normandy; Razor Wire, Concrete Bunkers and heavy machine guns, mortars, artillery and mine fields. We should be notfying the Mexican government that we will take matters into our own hands if they do nothing to eliminate the Cartels. Anymore of these incursions should be considered an act of war especially due to the fact that Mexico is well aware that ME terrorists are among the hordes swarming over the border.
      We should be using drones to rain Hell down on the Drug Cartels and the HQs.
      The DOJ presided over the sending of arms across the border (Fast & Furious) and arrests and imprisonment of those responsible, AGOTUS included, should be carried out as should the mass deportation of all illegals.

      • Cheri Rodriguez

        There are probably a lot of ex-East German border guards looking for work.

        • Anglokraut

          That was 25 years ago, so those guards are looking for a place to retire and play golf…southern Arizona is perfect!

          • Race War Provisions

            All their High Ranking officers went to Argentina in 1945

          • Cheri Rodriguez

            I was talking about East Germans; the ones you’re talking about are 90+ years old.

          • Race War Provisions

            I was talking about The Germans lol

          • Anglokraut

            And Cheri referred specifically to East Germans–the ones who lived under communism, and who were ordered to defend the border with live ammunition.

          • Anglokraut

            East Germany didn’t exist until 1949; how could their high-ranking officers leave for South America in 1945 when the country didn’t exist yet?

          • Race War Provisions

            I meant the Nazi Officers who evaded Nuremberg and went to South America, goofball.

          • Anglokraut

            No one but you is talking about Nazis.

  • TruthBeTold

    But a series of crackdowns and decreased traffic on Arizona’s border
    with Mexico have turned things around at Organ Pipe Cactus National

    Amazing. Who knew that cracking down could decrease illegal immigration.

    Maybe it’s something our government should try.

    • Cheri Rodriguez

      They did in 1954. See “Operation Wetback.”

  • George Costanza

    They call them cartels but are most likely ex mexican military. This is an act of war. If we were still a normal, healthy country we would have had combat troops stationed there and parked an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of mexico. Ridiculous!!

    • Cid Campeador

      I couldn’t agree more George! The Carrier is a great idea.

    • newscomments70

      “and parked an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of mexico”..hopefully not the one with rioting blacks.

    • MBlanc46

      “This is an act of war” It should be damned close to one. The Mexican government should be put on notice that the US government will hold them responsible for illegal entry by Mexican and other nationals crossing from Mexico. Of course, that would require a US government with principles and that made the well-being of its citizens its primary goal.

  • Anglokraut

    I really hope that there is a bit of truth in your post; I’ve been accepted to the University of Arizona, so I’m going to move to Tucson in a few months.

    • Spaniard in LA

      My sister lives in Tucson, she told me the same thing.

  • Americaandthewestshouldbewhite

    I would like there to be an Operation Wetback-2. Under this mullattoe In chief, I do not think that would happen.

  • Beloved Comrade

    “The sector made 120,939 arrests in fiscal year 2013. In fiscal year 2014, which ended Sept. 30, that figure was roughly 88,000.”

    I suspect this is due to the decreased presence of border patrol agents, rather than an actual reduction in crime. Obama has threatened to prosecute them for doing their job.

    What’s also extremely important in this Southern Border narrative is that the Sierra Club has been neutered by a $100 million donation from David Gelbaum who told them they’d never receive another nickel from him if they brought up immigration. They’ve clammed up about immigration ever since.

    So much for their former position that mass immigration puts a huge burden on the natural environment and natural resources. Ever since, illegals from south of the border have completely trashed the desert area around the Southern border.

    Think of that next time they call asking for a donation.

    • newscomments70

      They like to party at Joshua Tree park in California. Some parts of the park are full of litter and graffitti. I don’t understand how camping and the outdoors includes rape and burning tires, but I must not judge other cultures.

    • evilsandmich

      My thought too: why sneak across the Arizona badlands when you can just waltz down the road to your favorite welfare sponge of an American city.

  • Eagle1212

    What they should do is hire more border patrol agents to protect the park or any national park from illegals walking through there and if they see one, immediately go after them or shoot at them if they see them and they try to escape, many countries around the world have more severe acts if they see illegals try to cross their borders. But as long as the gutless politicians as well as corporate fat cats are in control, this unsatisfactory situation will continue to get worse.

  • Fred Elbel

    I visited Organ Pipe National Monument several times in the early 90s to photograph and enjoy its fragile, pristine desert ecosystem. I returned in 2004 and was stunned by the condition of the park.

    Illegal alien smuggling trails criss-crossed the landscape. A third of the park was off-limits to visitors. I arranged a private tour with a ranger on the conditions of anonymity. We received a substantial education on the top-down, DC-based agenda of deliberate non-enforcement of America’s border security,

    I am slightly optimistic that the park may be maintained in a secure and protected state. Yet sadly, the damage has been done.

    You can view photos and research:

    • One very nice family vacation in 1976 involved a week stay over spring break at a dude ranch outside Tuscon. We rode horses around the Arizona-Sonora desert national park every day. It was great fun, but when people don’t get to do that sort of thing anymore because it has become too dangerous, they should thank the greaseritos.

  • Hordes of illegal aliens also create additional demands on water resources (our southwest is quite arid and the Great Basin has no outside drainage; it’s endorheic), and electricity, which in the USA generally means coal-fired power plants. Burning coal is the second-largest distributor of mercury into the environment, after only calcining limestone to make cement. When a libtard says he or she is in favor if criminal alien invaders coming here, they are thus really saying that they are in favor of soil salinization and more mercury in our rivers and lakes (ultimately in our fish).