I have long avoided doing business in RRC District 4 because I got mugged some years back by the Patron system of County Judges, their brother/cousin-in-law attorneys, and the general litigousness of the folk down there. A business deal just isn’t a business deal with District 4 folk unless you have been screwed and been subjected to a Kafkaesque trip to hell in state courts in South Texas where the lawyers are related to the judges and anyone from "outside" is meat. A shining example of this kind of adventure is the one enjoyed by Edge and Carrizo when they were forced to squeal like a pig by the grunting crackers that comprise the Duval juduciary at the time. http://sec.edgar-online.com/2000/07/19/17/0000912057-00-032511/Section2.asp
My lawyer told me, of a case my side had dead to rights by all legal accounts, that we would lose in District and Appeals because of where it was and who was involved, but we would win in Texas Supreme. The Texas Supreme Court overturns a huge majority District opinions, but is damn cold comfort AFTER you "done got raped". In any case, I decided that District 4 was No Country for (this) Oil Man. Boy, was I right. It has gotten worse. Much worse.
Some close friends of my family were house guests this last week. Their family has ranched in South Texas for 3 or more generations and they live 10 miles from the nearest town, 40 miles from the nearest town you MAY have heard of. They have a long history of kindness to the illegal aliens (of course, they are called “wetbacks” as they have been for 3 generations, sensitivities be damned in that lawless country) that cross their expansive ranch seeking the good life in America. The hunting cabins they maintain have running water and canned goods, and instructions in Spanish to take what they need, but don’t tear the place up. This is how it has been for 80 years.
The stories they related to me this week caused my skin to crawl and my hairs to stand on end. The Valley, indeed the border has changed in a very short period of time, and NONE of it is apparently accurately reported in the press.
Our friends home is fenced, electric fenced, and, always dog likers, they have become dog lovers, with 6 dogs within the fenced compound. Today, they pack heat everywhere they go. She has border patrol, at best 40 minutes away, on speed dial. She has been accosted by and held down intruders in their home at gun point three times in the last year and a half. These are not the folks looking for water. These folks are up to much worse. People looking to steal, to rob, to murder... and groups of them at a time. The latest was a set of tattooed prison gang members that had just been released from prison in California and were making their way back via Texas. Another was a well-known local coyote, or human smuggler.
Sighted recently by hunters on both their ranch and the neighbors spread was a well organized and camouflage-uniformed militia marching in formation with MAC-10 submachine guns. They were not US soldiers. When our friends called the Border Patrol to report this strange sighting, the Patrol confirmed that they had gotten reports about the group, and expressed surprise that they were as far west as they were.
Drug and human runners commonly abandon vehicles that break down or get stuck in the mud on their ranch, often times with hundred of thousands or millions of dollars in drugs left behind. The Border Patrol calls our friends and ask if they want the trucks or cars, and they have been offered so many that they have become picky. They title them as “abandoned” and gift them to employees and people who need ‘em in the Valley.
The Border Patrol itself has an off the books Special Response Team that doesn’t report through the normal Border Patrol channels and works "off the reservation”, perhaps because the possibility of internal informants and corrupt agents due to the huge amounts of money involved. This Special Response Team doesn’t wear uniforms. They wear Halloween masks. When a normal Border Patrol Unit pulls up, a group of aliens will scatter, knowing that they are safe to run from the agents because deadly force is not permitted. When the unmarked special units guys show up, they fall to the ground pleading for their lives because they are sure they are being highjacked or kidnapped by the very real threat of rival coyotes fighting for territory. Their terror turns to joyous relief when they find out it is "only" the Migra.
Our friend's ranch has a lot of oil and gas activity. Thus, they have a lot is of oilfield traffic. Because their ranch is located to the south of the border patrol checkpoint on the main highway 15 miles to the east and another a little further to the west, and the limits extend north past the checkpoints, it is a hotspot of activity. Our friend got curious about a herbicide services truck that had signed in with their gate guard to "provide herbicide to the pipeline right of way signs". The pipeline company had never used herbicide before, and this truck made not one, but three round trip south-north-south traverses across their ranch that day. She traveled along the rights of ways and didn't note any of the distinctive blue herbicidal goop. She called the operator and the pipeline company and they said they didn't know anything about herbicide operations. She ran the plates and the truck did belong to a herbicide business in the Valley, but when she contacted the owner, he confirmed he owned the truck, although he said the name on the sign-in list didn't correspond to any of his guys, and that he did not have a job in the area. My friend is quite tenaceous.
Most disturbingly, however, is the change in the type of people coming across and the sophistication of the operations that get them into the "land of the free". As I mentioned, our friends ranch is west and south of the checkpoint. Just a few years ago, the typical illegal migrant was a young to middle aged Mexican man trying to get to a job… fundamentally, a decent person just trying to better his family’s life. Today, the demographic has changed. According to our friends, the majority, or if not majority, a significant minority of folks crossing their ranch are from China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere. The method most commonly used, at least in this neck of the woods is to pull up as many as 18 to 20 large Penske trucks line up a quarter mile apart along the highway that runs east-west south of the border checkpoint on the north-south highway. Each truck drops up to 100 people on the ground and these groups of a hundred each begin their trek north across the desert, presumably to be picked up safely north and away from the border patrol stations. The border patrol is massively overwhelmed and generally is able to apprehend some 5-10% of these folks. Our friend said that this was happening every day up until three months ago, then slowed down but has been picking up again recently.
Wait, it gets worse. Our friends have had several conversations with these non-Mexican immigrants that made the mistake of trespassing on their compound. They are generally talkative as they are held at gun point, and have some time while waiting the normal 40 minutes for Border Patrol to arrive. One Bangladeshi told our friends that he had paid $40,000 for the trip. He had paid a guy in Bangladesh to get him to America. His “travel agent” arranged for his travel to Moscow, where he took a flight to Cuba, where he then got a Visa to enter Guatamala, where he met up with Coyotes that took him over the Mexican border illegally and then up to the US, ending up with a hundred others in a Penske truck and dropped in the desert to make a several mile march where he was to meet up with someone who would take him into the interior. Each step was entirely organized from the time he left Bangladesh. He also told her that had he not had the $40,000, he could borrow it from the same folks that had arranged the travel at 60% interest. The going rate for Central Americans to get to America is $6 thousand and Mexicans pay $3 thousand. Apparently NAFTA has its monetary privileges.
Since our friends are not liars, several pieces of this story disturb me.
First, why would someone in Bangladesh pay $40k to get here? $40k in Bangladesh is a millionaire. Unless the dollar continues in its collapse. Maybe he was just arbitraging the Bangladeshi Taka.
Second, the fact that whoever arranged it was “willing to finance”. That suggests a collection and enforcement facility over here, thus the capability to exort or otherwise blackmail otherwise good people if scoundrels could expose their presence here or threaten their family. I suspect the "sub-prime" Bangladeshi lender isn't in the habit of sending Notifications of Default and turning it over to an over the telephone collections agency employing nasty Brooklynites in a phone bank.
Third, the amazing coordination of the significant logisitical challenges in moving and coordinating the travels and movements of thousands across continents and countries, often times illegaly. I mean, I have never had a travel agent that good, and the big companies I worked for had a hell of a time juggling this many moving parts. No fly by night operation, this… it is a massive, big moneyed, well managed criminal enterprise. If each of the folks jammed into Penske trucks averaged paying $5k, then each of the 20 Penske trucks represents $1 million in human cargo. $20 million. Per day. 2000 people. This is bigger than our white market Maquila operations and doesn't even include the Drogas.
Lastly, I don't like the expansion in the “flavors” of illegal immigrants coming across the border. Not from a bigot point of view, but because this is what I scoffed at before this week. I mean, hell, I grew up on the border, and have always had a tolerant view of people seeking a better life. Big industry, not entwined in red tape of regulations, not taxed, and not subject to the pit bulls of our civil judicial systems seem to always thrive and be very highly profitable. Take that Galbraith. I just don't like Sub Rosa Big Industries. They corrupt and destroy society.
All of this brings to mind what Sheriff Ed Tom Bell says in "No Country for Old Men" (and played sublimely by Tommy Lee Jones), when asked "It's a mess, ain't it Sheriff"?
"If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here".
As I sat there with dropped jaw, I asked her why none of this had been in the news? She said some had, but everyone was afraid to touch it because illegal immigration had become so politicized and hot-buttoned. She said anyone ranching in South Texas or working for the Border Patrol damn well knows the truth.
Sheriff Bell again put it quite succinctly. "The crime I see today, I cain't even take it's maisure... The problem is, to fight it, I would have to understaind it, and I am afraid to do that. It could cost a man his soul".