Arizona border sheriff would welcome armed state National Guard troops

Feb 9, 2022, 12:55 PM | Updated: 1:00 pm

(Facebook Photo/Cochise County Sheriff's Office - Mark J. Dannels Sheriff)...

(Facebook Photo/Cochise County Sheriff's Office - Mark J. Dannels Sheriff)

(Facebook Photo/Cochise County Sheriff's Office - Mark J. Dannels Sheriff)

PHOENIX – A southern Arizona sheriff said Wednesday he’d welcome the presence of armed state National Guard troops to address border security issues, a move the state’s attorney general said would be legally warranted.

“I think so, because the bottom line is, as a sheriff, my purpose is to protect the citizens of my county,” Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

On Monday, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, in response to a request from a Republican state lawmaker, issued a formal legal opinion about the state’s right to defend itself.

Brnovich, a Republican running for a U.S. Senate seat this year, came to the conclusion that cartel activities such as human trafficking and drug smuggling meet the legal definition of an invasion; therefore, the state has the right to use force to defend itself under the direction of the governor as commander-in-chief.

Gov. Doug Ducey “has been very good” on border issues, Dannels said, adding that Brnovich’s legal opinion clarifies Ducey’s role and “opens up another opportunity for our governor, our community leaders, sheriffs to collectively come together in absence of our federal government.”

Ducey has previously deployed state guardsmen to the border to help with administrative work.

Dannels is one of 11 Arizona sheriffs who joined Ducey last month in urging the state’s congressional delegate to work on bolstering security at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Dannels accused the federal government of failing to properly secure the border, allowing cartels to push fentanyl and other drugs into the country while overdose deaths are surging.

“It’s incredible the war on drugs is back,” he said. “And as long as we continue to ignore border security, that number [of overdoses] will only increase, which is another element of why we need secure borders.”

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Arizona border sheriff would welcome armed state National Guard troops