Sheriff's deputies in Texas' Hudspeth County have had bounties placed on their heads, and their families have been verbally threatened by men suspected of belonging to one of Mexico's most dangerous drug cartels. The deputies,some of whom testified last week before a House subcommittee in Washington, said they will not back down despite the threats by smugglers over enforcement actions along the border. "We've placed guards at the schools for the children of the deputies just for precaution," said Sheriff Arvin West. "These men didn't just threaten our deputies, but their wives and children," he said. There is no doubt in my mind that the cartels have bought off Mexican military and government officials. Now they're trying to scare us. - It's not going to happen."
West said informants who have spoken to him from the Mexican side of the border said deputies have bounties on them as high as $100,000. Three weeks ago, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and Hudspeth County deputies took photographs and videotaped an armed standoff with men dressed in Mexican military uniforms assisting drug smugglers across the Rio Grande. "They certainly aren't happy with the truth coming out," West said. "But we're going to stay here, and they're not going to intimidate us from doing our jobs."
One deputy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his wife was approached by men who told her to keep her husband away from the Rio Grande or "they would pay a high price." The Rio Grande, which is now only 200 yards wide and only three to five feet deep there, is easily crossed by drug smugglers bringing narcotics into the United States. At the home of another deputy, the stakes got much higher, West said. Suspected drug runners not only warned the deputy's wife but informed her that they knew when, where and at what time her young children attended school.
"All we can do is hope and pray nothing happens," West said. "I hope they listen to us and put more manpower down here and stick to their guns. If this was happening in downtown Chicago or Washington, D.C., I don't think the federal government would hesitate to protect the city I don't know why they've just ignored us."