Pinal County sheriff warns people about cartel assassins

If you’re planning to camp, hike, bike or ride ATVs in or around Pinal County this Memorial Day weekend, Sheriff Paul Babeu has a warning for you — you could be risking your life.

“Sheriff Babeu has been made aware of the high probability that Mexican Drug Cartels are sending ‘Sicarios,’ groups of professional assassins, to confront and kill rival ‘rip-crews’ who are stealing their drugs during transit along smuggling corridors in and around Pinal County,” according to a news alert from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

There are back roads, campsites and trails along those known smuggling corridors in the western part of the county.

The potential danger in mind, Babeu is warning people to “be very cautious and consider carrying a firearm when in these wilderness areas.”

“We are taking this threat seriously and believe that the public and my deputies deserve to know that there is an elevated risk of encountering gun violence in certain areas of Pinal County,” Babeu said, continuing his criticism of the Obama administration for not shoring up border security. “I’m telling our citizens that want to enjoy the outdoors to travel armed and not let these drug cartels think they have any control over American soil.”

Babeu said his department has been “fighting the Sinaloa Cartel violence in Arizona for years.”

His county and the area to the south have been the site of several clashes between the cartel and rival gangs.

“I am concerned that when these cartel hit-men have armed confrontations with the rip-crews in the deserts of Pinal County, innocent Americans and my deputies are going to be injured or killed,” he said.

Editor’s note: Through partnership Independent Newspapers is publishing information provided by CBS 5 News. The story can be found here.
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Catherine Holland writes for CBS 5 News

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