Gun-carrying volunteer members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps have launched patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona in support of National Guard troops who just 48 hours earlier were attacked by gunmen and had to retreat, according to officials.

“We cannot allow this to happen,” Minuteman spokeswoman Carmen Mercer told WND. “They were being attacked and had to retreat [because] they do not have permission to defend themselves.

“I don’t care what drug cartel it is, it’s unacceptable. The National Guard is there to protect the American public, and they cannot protect themselves.”

She said armed volunteers were being dispatched yesterday to stand “side-by-side” with the guardsmen on their patrols, “until the governor or the president allow them to defend themselves, or send more troops.”

Reports say the soldiers were at a post near Sasabe late Wednesday when the militants came across the border and attacked. Officials said the guardsmen retreated and no one was injured, and an investigation has been launched into the identities of those who later retreated to Mexico.

Authorities report that corridor in the desert has been the busiest in the area for marijuana seizures lately, with 124,000 pounds taken just since last fall.

The National Guard troops have been on the scene since last summer, helping Border Patrol agents by operating control rooms, performing maintenance and repairs, building vehicle barriers and spotting and reporting those who enter to U.S. illegally. But they aren’t allowed to actively arrest illegals, or confront them.

The group said it would hold a news conference today at 9 a.m. at the intersection of highways 86 and 286 in Three Points to talk about future plans.

Volunteers from the group, who have served along the border at various times since 2002, already have helped in the apprehension of more than 10,000 people who illegally entered the United States, officials said.

They also have begun volunteering their time and money to built sections of security fencing along the border, officials said.

“We are not at all shocked by this incursion; our president and federal government have sent these lawbreakers a message of immunity if caught, and a helping hand to accomplish their criminal goals,” the group said in a statement announcing plans. “Our nation is being overrun by the influx of illegal aliens as well as drug cartels that show no signs of fear in crossing our border and we call upon our federal government to do the job they were elected to do, and refrain from supporting the open border advocates.”

The organization is a “citizen-led initiative” set up to watch the borders and report on illegal activities.

Officials with the U.S. Border Patrol did not return calls from WND seeking comment, but one blogger had a message that was to the point:

“This incident, among others, begs the question: HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO TOLERATE THIS??? When the United States military has to retreat from our own border in the face of attacking Mexicans, we have clearly lost control of our territory. Is that okay with you?” asked Lionel Waxman. “Where will we draw the line? Where will we stop them? Tubac? Green Valley? Grant Road? … Who the hell is in charge here?”

William Gheen, who leads Americans for Legal Immigration, said the question that needs to be answered is what is the U.S. going to go about attacks on its own soil.

“The Bush administration has stretched our troops to the other side of the planet, depleting the American treasury, while we are being invaded at home,” he told WND. “It is outlandish that our troops are being sent to the other side of the planet to supposedly protect us while we are being invaded here and now.”

He said studies show that the death toll from the crimes of illegal aliens within the United States has been estimated from 12-25 lives – per day. “It is an invasion. It is real. People are dying,” he said.

He said without a change in the politics in the United States, and a result that would crack down on the attacks, the two remaining alternatives will be “violence and slavery.”

“Our political system is in deep trouble for this to be happening. This isn’t supposed to be happening. Only a disruption in our self-governance can allow this to happen,” he said.

Another group, The Minuteman Project, said that “gun-toting” members of the Mexican drug cartels and military cross regularly into the U.S., and some even have been trained by the U.S. military.

Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., one of the leaders in the fight to protect the U.S. borders, has said the fact that drug-runners are known to be escorted by the Mexican army should be denounced by the president.

About 6,000 National Guard troops were assigned to the southwest border states last summer to supplement the work of the Border Patrol. But their work is limited strictly to backing up the Border Patrol, which is why they were forced to retreat as armed militants advanced on them, officials said.

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