Editor’s note: Just in case you have not puzzled it out, Mastering Security, is a twice-monthly blog by San Miguel County’s Libertarian Sheriff, Bill Masters, who is also a published author. Masters has been Sheriff since 1980. Image of vehicle barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border in Dona Anna County, New Mexico, was shot by Masters.

In early February, the New Mexico Sheriffs and the US Border Patrol invited a handful of Colorado Sheriffs to spend a few days working and touring the US-Mexican border. With all the information the Sheriff’s Office has been receiving lately regarding drug cartels, the war going on Mexico, and the political comments on immigration, I am interested in seeing what the current situation looks like from the boots on the ground perspective.

I grew up in Southern California and as a teenager had spent some weekends messing around in Tijuana. Later in the 70s I spent several vacations camping in the dessert, mountains and beaches throughout Mexico in old VW campers and pickup trucks. In the 1990s, Jill and I would often drive down the Baja with the kids or go scuba diving in the Yucatan. Through all my travels in Mexico and maybe 50 or 60 border crossings at Juarez, Nogales, and a number of small frontier outposts, I was never once hassled by the police, had anything stolen or felt threatened by anybody or anything. Maybe I was just naive and lucky, but I have a lot of fond memories of my travels south of the border. So when I get the law enforcement intelligence reports with pictures showing dozens of dead campesinos gunned down just south of the border  for not paying the cartels “border tax,” or 10  or 15 murdered police officers lying dead on a highway near a beach I use to camp on…Well, it is disturbing.

Sheriff Jerry Martin of Dolores County, the county just south us, and I agree to drive down to the border together. The day before we leave he calls and we discuss what to bring… rifles? bullet resistant vests? helmets? We really don’t know what the Border Patrol will have us doing, but the proposed equipment list is a bit different from my old “heading south” one of snorkel, spear-gun and swim fins. Jerry, both a rancher and a Sheriff, suggests we  settle on what works in Dove Creek….cowboys hats and maybe a revolver….which will later prove to be thoroughly adequate even in the dusty badlands of the border country of southern New Mexico.

To be continued….


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