Kolten Parker reports for the San Antonio Express-News (via Chron.com), July 28, 2014, that, defying warnings from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and state lawmakers, militia groups along the Texas-Mexico border have grown to more than 10 active “teams” from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley.
As you can see in the photos above and below, the militia members are carrying semi-automatic rifles and wearing masks, camouflage and tactical gear. They are seen at campsites, walking along the Rio Grande while speaking with Border Patrol agents, and pointing rifles and pistols out of frame.
The photos of the militiamen were provided to the San Antonio Express-News under the condition that members’ faces be blurred because of fear of being identified by Mexican cartel and gang members.
Interestingly, although the CBP has said it does not “endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands, as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences,” one of the photos (below) shows a Border Patrol agent providing directions to a vehicle of armed militia members. CBP did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The militia groups, with members including Oathkeepers, Three Percenters and Patriots, began recruiting and organizing more than a month ago as national media outlets began focusing on the growing number of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the border, including more than 50,000 “unaccompanied minors,” the majority of whom actually are teen males ages 15 to 17.
Barbie Rogers, founder of the Patriots Information Hotline, which is helping organize and recruit for the militia groups, said there are 10 “operations on the ground along the Texas border” from El Paso to Laredo to the Valley. Many of the groups are stationed on ranch land with permission from the owners, she said.
The Texas militia’s operation names, according to Rogers, are: Bolinas Border Patrol, Central Valley Militia, Independent Citizens Militia, Alpha Team, Bravo Team, FOB Harmony, Operation Secure Our Border: Laredo Sector, O’Shanessy’s Team, the 77’s and Camp Geronimo.
In an interview with the Express-News last month, Chris Davis, commander of the militia’s Operation Secure Our Border: Laredo Sector, said members would secure the border in a “legal and lawful manner.” In 21-minute YouTube video that has since been deleted, Davis said: “How? You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.'”
Davis, a 37-year-old truck driver from Von Ormy, was discharged from the Army in 2001 “under other than honorable conditions in lieu of trial by court-martial,” according to a summary of his military service obtained by the Express-News.
Rogers called on Texas Governor Rick Perry to send 5,000 more National Guard members to the border and said that “if cost is an issue” then “call the militia. They will come if you call them.”
Gov. Rick Perry, who last week ordered 1,000 Texas National Guard members to the border, declined to comment through a spokesman specifically on whether he supports the militia groups but said the governor is “leading to secure the border.”
Leticia Van de Putte
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio),who is running against state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) for lieutenant governor, denounced the militias in a statement, saying “pointing guns at children solves nothing. Local law enforcement and federal Border Patrol agents have been clear. The presence of these outside independent militia groups does nothing to secure the border; it only creates an unsafe situation for law enforcement officials that are protecting our communities. Unfortunately, the vile rhetoric of my opponent inspires misguided efforts.”
Here are some more photos of the border militia:
H/t FOTM’s swampygirl