ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona ranchers want border wall, worry about Border Patrol agents on their land

Feb 18, 2017, 6:21 AM

(Photo by Garrison Murphy/Cronkite News)...

(Photo by Garrison Murphy/Cronkite News)

(Photo by Garrison Murphy/Cronkite News)

DOUGLAS — John Ladd stepped out of his rusted, red pickup truck to lead a herd of cattle through a gate on his 16,000-acre ranch on the Arizona-Mexico border, chain and padlock swinging from his hand.

“There’s an open gate right there; that’s what I was talking about,” Ladd said. “Border Patrol doesn’t like closing gates.”

The gate Ladd referred to is designed to keep cattle separated. Leaving a gate open can have dire consequences for a rancher. The gate also borders a ravine he said is commonly used by undocumented immigrants and smugglers who cross through his ranch.

“It used to take five days to get the ranch rounded up; it takes me seven weeks now and it’s because anybody coming through illegally cuts through fences and border patrol doesn’t know how to shut a gate,” Ladd said.

A cow grazing on the Ladd Ranch in Arizona which borders Mexico. The ranch has been owned by the Ladd family since 1896. (Photo by Garrison Murphy/Cronkite News)

Both Border Patrol and Ladd have keys to locks on his gates, but he said agents often leave the gates open. Despite Ladd’s disagreements with Border Patrol, he supports President Donald Trump’s executive order to build a wall and authorize Border Patrol to hire 5,000 more agents.

“It used to be a lot of immigrants coming over and now it’s mostly drug mules they catch here,” Ladd said. “They just go right over (the fence).” Ladd said he and agents have found 14 bodies on his ranch since the Border Patrol started patrolling back in the 1980s.

He said people who cross the border illegally cut through his land daily to reach Highway 92.
Ladd said although his relationship is better than that it has been in past, he still has disagreements over how the agents do their jobs.

“They’ve torn up my property more than the illegals,” said Ladd. “They have no respect for land and they have no respect for landowners … I was here first.”

Ladd said the quick turnover rate of agents puts a strain on his relationship with Border Patrol because he has to get to know new agents and teach them about ranch life.

He also said his biggest frustration is with Congress “not allowing Border Patrol to do their job” and that he hopes this new executive order will change that. He supports locking up illegal border crossers rather than sending them back to Mexico.

Ladd’s family has owned the ranch since 1896. He said before the 1980s he rarely had issues with people crossing the border illegally. In the past he helped immigrants who worked his land, including Mexican cowboys become U.S. citizens.

However, others living near the border don’t share the the ranchers concerns.

“It reminds me of buying a house next to an airport and complaining about the noise,” said Ronald Oertle, mayor of neighboring Bisbee.

Tom Wheeler, a former Bisbee mayor and resident for 35 years said most immigrants crossing the border are not malicious and that it is an issue that is oversold by politicians and border ranchers.

The federal government is upgrading the border fence on the Ladd Ranch to make it 18 feet tall. (Photo by Garrison Murphy/Cronkite News)

“The immigration problem is a big smoke screen, most of the people coming here overstay their visa or green card,” Wheeler said. “Most of the people coming across here are coming from Central America and it’s all poverty.”

Fred Davis, a rancher whose property is 17 miles north of the border, said he has encountered problems with border crossers on his land. He said townspeople don’t understand the difficulties he faces.

“You go into Sierra Vista and ask them how many problems we have and they won’t have a clue, they will say they have no problems,” Davis said. “It’s all relative till it’s your relative.”

He said although he has not had as many encounters with Border Patrol agents, he is still critical of their strategies and that “John Ladd’s ranch is the greatest example of the Border Patrol failure.”

The death of fellow rancher in 2010 changed how Davis and Ladd they feel about dealing with migrants.

Robert Krentz and his dog were shot and killed on his ranch while checking on someone who appeared to be injured. Investigators found footprints leading to Mexico but have not arrested any suspects for the crime.

“Sure, it is frightening,” Davis said. “He was a good friend of mine since high school … Rob was a very careful man and a very compassionate guy.”

Since Krentz’s death Davis said he is “not going to get in gunshot range of any [border crossers].”

Ladd, bought his first cell phone after Krentz’s death.

John Ladd talks on the phone with a fellow rancher as he walks on his property near construction material that is being used to upgrade the current border fence.

John Ladd talks on the phone with a fellow rancher as he walks on his property near construction material that is being used to upgrade the current border fence. (Photo by Garrison Murphy/Cronkite News)

“That’s how it is down here, if you leave your house for a day you’re going to get robbed,” Ladd said. “They’ve been in my house, they steal trucks, steal tools. It was a daily event. We still can’t leave without somebody being here.”

Ladd and Davis said they have had multiple break-ins on their ranches.

Ladd said Border Patrol catches about 30-50 people a week on his property, which is a sharp decline from a decade ago when they apprehended approximately 200 border crossers a week.

“I’m sure there are some (border crossers) here right now” Ladd said. “They’re watching me all the time.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Amkor Technology to bring semiconductor facility to Peoria...

Serena O'Sullivan

Peoria City Council paves the way for new semiconductor packaging and test facility

Tempe-based Amkor Technology is set to launch an advanced semiconductor packaging and test facility in north Peoria, officials said.

2 hours ago

Sunnyslope campus...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona Humane Society closing Sunnyslope campus, new facility set to open in Phoenix

The Arizona Humane Society's Sunnyslope campus is in the process of being relocated to the Rob and Melani Walton Papago Park Campus.

2 hours ago

Paul Russell and Jake Hoot are among the scheduled performers for the Out of the Park Music Fest on...

KTAR.com

City of Surprise to close out spring training with music festival

Surprise will finish its spring training season by hosting a music festival on the final day of games in the West Valley city.

2 hours ago

Doctors at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix used the FARAPULSE Pulsed Field Ablation Sy...

Kevin Stone

Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix debuts new atrial fibrillation treatment

Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix is now treating atrial fibrillation with a new device that reduces the risk of complications.

2 hours ago

Person planting a 5 foot tree...

KTAR.com

Some residents in Mesa qualify for a free shade tree

Qualifying Mesa residents can now enroll in the city's tree shade program, which offers eligible participants the opportunity to plant a tree in their yard at no cost.

10 hours ago

Teen girl accused of attacking, robbing victim, Gilbert police say...

KTAR.com

Gilbert PD arrest teen girl accused of attacking victim in youth violence case

The Gilbert Police Department said on Tuesday it arrested a teen girl accused of attacking and robbing a victim in September 2023.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

...

FanDuel

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Arizona ranchers want border wall, worry about Border Patrol agents on their land