Armed militia groups along the Texas-Mexico border have grown to more than 10 active “teams” from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
More than 30 photos obtained by the newspaper show dozens of members posing at campsites while carrying semi-automatic rifles and tactical gear. Many are wearing masks and camouflage to avoid being “identified by gangs and cartel members.”
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, denounced the groups in a statement.
“Local law enforcement and federal Border Patrol agents have been clear. The presence of these outside independent militia groups does nothing to secure the border; it only creates an unsafe situation for law enforcement officials that are protecting our communities. Unfortunately, the vile rhetoric of my opponent inspires misguided efforts,” said Van de Putte, who is running against state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, for lieutenant governor.
Barbie Rogers, founder of the Patriots Information Hotline, which is helping to organize and recruit for the militia groups, said there are 10 “operations on the ground along the Texas border” from El Paso to Laredo to the Valley. Many of the groups are stationed on ranch land with permission from the owners, she told the newspaper. She said the hot line is averaging 97 calls per hour.
The Texas militias’ operation names, according to Rogers, are: Bolinas Border Patrol, Central Valley Militia, Independent Citizens Militia, Alpha Team, Bravo Team, FOB Harmony, Operation Secure Our Border: Laredo Sector, O’Shanessy’s Team, the 77′s and Camp Geronimo.
“Operation Secure Our Border,” is being led by Chris Davis, a 37-year-old truck driver who was discharged from the Army in 2001 “under other than honorable conditions in lieu of trial by court martial,” according to a summary of Davis’ military service obtained by Express-News.
The militia groups have set up a “command post” in Von Ormy, about 20 miles south of downtown San Antonio, Davis told KRGV-TV.
“We have patriots all across this country who are willing to sacrifice their time, money even quit their jobs to come down and fight for freedom, liberty and national sovereignty,” Davis said in the interview.
The group will secure the border in a “legal and lawful manner,” Davis said. However, a 21-minute YouTube video of Davis, which was first reported by the McAllen Monitor, is raising eyebrows.
“You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot,’” Davis can be heard saying.
Davis said he removed the video because it was taken out of context “by a newspaper that supports amnesty.”
“If we come across a family that may have made it across the border, we will give them water and food and make contact with ICE or Border Patrol and tell them we have these people here,” Davis told the Express-News.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection expressed opposition to the militias in a statement, saying they “could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences.”
Army regulations state a soldier may be discharged in lieu of trial by court martial when the soldier uses force or violence to produce serious bodily injury or death, abuses a position of trust, is insubordinate, deliberately endangers the health of others or displays behavior that “constitutes a significant departure from the conduct expected of Soldiers of the Army.”