Border Update: Memorial Day Weekend 2008
I departed my home 20 at 0600 24MAY08 and arrived in Jacumba at 0800. It was 45 degrees! At 0840 I put in at Red Shank and began my customary westward trek from Tierra Del Sol to Patriot Point.
The further west I got the colder it became. It was 40 degrees between Smith and La Gloria canyons at 0920. I stopped for a moment to gaze at the hilltop where I got shot at exactly one year ago on Memorial Day weekend 2007.
By 0945 I was at Patriot Point and promptly put on my long johns. I kept these thermals on the entire Memorial Day weekend!
After visiting with a BP agent who stopped by the Point I set off on patrol to the west.
I stopped at the base of Cap Rock and faced the line looking east. It was cold and drizzling. I waited out the rain and then headed to the 127 turnout. I radioed the point to let them know I would be on foot for a short trip down a well-used trail.
I found several articles of clothing, one of which had 16 pesos in the pocket.
By 1230 I was back at the base of Cap rock watching a spotter through my binoculars at the top of 241. At 1255 I informed an agent who stopped by of this activity.
By this time Big Bob was on the line and positioned under the 127 tower. I grew weary of watching the spotter and wanted to see what he was spotting. Undoubtedly he was up there to guide at least one group. With Big Bob in an optimum position I left my truck at the 127 turnout and ascended the north face of the 241.
I stayed up there quite a while before making eye contact with the spotter. We waved at each other and then he ducked back out of sight.
About 1545 I spotted 7 men in black walking across the flat land north of the Ranchita and east of the Pemex/Ranchita intersection.
They were walking north when a Mercury Marquis cut across the field and approached them. After that they began walking east until they disappeared behind a hill.
I have seen the Mercury many times before and it would not be the last time I saw it that weekend. BP later informed me the car has California plates.
A while later Sgt Major Slick, at the Point, spotted three of the seven by the tank trap. They TBSed and we never saw them again. I suspect they snuck in later, our attention diverted by larger groups.
At 1620 a small helicopter emerged from the hill due south of the 241 at high speed. It headed northeast and then entered American airspace a mile or two east of my position! Sgt Major Slick at the Point verified this incursion and the helo continued east on the north side of the border until it disappeared over the horizon. I phoned BP Tecate and made the report. BP called Lil Dog’s phone at the point several times after that for more info on the aerial invader, which we never saw again. I did some research and the aircraft was a Robinson R22 like the one below, only it was a very dark color. Dare I say “black helicopter?”
About that same time I spotted that damn Mercury hiding in some rocks east of the 241. At precisely 1700 the spotter across from me on top of 241 got up, waved at me and said “Adios” and something about going to Tecate. Must’ve been quittin’ time. Damn spotter keepin’ bankers hours. The Mercury pulled out of the rocks and parked on the Ranchita road due east of the 241.
I watched as the spotter walked casually down the hill to the car and figured that was that, until 11 men appeared out of the rocks and began walking south down the Ranchita road toward the Ranchita, with the Mercury following slowly. They had given up.
My vigil atop the 241 had been successful.
By 1740 I had descended from my perch and returned to my truck. I thanked Big Bob for watching my truck. I couldn’t have gone up there without his backup. This excellent teamwork would repeat itself to further success later in the weekend.
I patrolled west again to Cap Rock where a BP agent thanked me for a job well done. I returned the compliment. By 1830 I had positioned myself back at the Donut Hole and yet another BP agent happened by and he thanked me as well. Whoever says that BP doesn’t work with civilians is dead wrong, at least in the Tecate sector. They love us there as extra eyes and ears and it is an honor to in any way assist the dedicated men and women of the United States Border Patrol.
At 1930 I patrolled west again to Cap Rock and visited with a pretty female BP agent before I headed off back to the east. I patrolled slowly with my tracking light and Golight working all the way to the 141. There I found five or six vehicles belonging to the Campo Minutemen. They had had their monthly highway cleanup earlier in the day and had retired to the 141 for a bar-b-que and to light up La Gloria canyon. I visited with Gadget and Kingfish for a few minutes before heading back down the line to the west.
I sat peering into the darkness with my NVG at the Donut Hole from about 2200 until 0100 25MAY08.
Growing weary I patrolled once more to the east to the PCT then doubled back to Patriot Point, climbed in the back of Godzilla and by 0200 was fast asleep.
I awakened at 0600 in time to join Lil Dog for his daily ritual of raising Old Glory over the Point.
By 0620 I was back on duty. I headed down the border road to the 241 then made the hard right turn to double back to the Donut Hole. All at once my rear view mirror was filled with lights and sirens. A BP agent, undoubtedly a new recruit, had pulled me over! I told him I was a minuteman, gave him my card and, after he checked out my well-equipped rig, he let me go.
At 0805, while sitting in my truck peering out at the area in Mexico in front of the donut hole and agent approached me. He had parked his truck out of view from the south and walked up the road to inform me that he had spotted one man hiding in the rocks in front of me.
He pointed to the area where he had seen the individual but neither of us saw anything.
He went back to his truck and set off on patrol while I remained at the Donut Hole. At 0855 he rolled by in front of me and motioned that the 1 POI was still out there, though I still did not see him. At 0950 the individual in question raised up and I spotted him.
Then he crouched down an walked several meters as if he was trying to hide, though he was in plain sight.
He looked ridiculous. He appeared to be walking toward the gap in the fence just west of my position. I got out of my truck and pursued on foot after radioing the Point. As I was crossing the barbed wire fence on the north side of the border road I tripped and fell on my face. I heard and engine rev and saw the agent gassing it toward me. I got up and flagged him down. He thought I was an invader and was coming to arrest me! I told him I had finally seen the man he spotted earlier and that he appeared to be heading for the gap in the fence. We approached the gap and the agent immediately spied the individual crouching in the bushes. We both got right up on the border and as I was about to take the man’s picture we spooked about 20 of them!
They had been hiding right under my nose all morning and had finally had enough! They bolted south from the bushes, one with a baby in her arms and headed for the hill beyond.
Big Bob rolled up about that time and then Omaha, the BP helicopter, flew over. It was a bad morning to try to invade my country.
Lil Dog said a spotter on 241 was hopping mad, jumping up and down and talking on his cell phone. Lo siento, amigo. Not on my watch.
After that the agent went up on the 241 and stayed for several hours. At 1050 I went back to the Point for debriefing.
By 1145 I was back at the base of Cap Rock facing the line east, mindful of the fact that I had seen 3 individuals on Cap Rock as I drove up. There was an agent on Zuellner’s High Point and Big Bob was at the 127 tower. We had the west side of 241 all sewn up.
After a while the agent came down from ZHP and spoke with me. He said he had been meaning to by an FRS radio so he could monitor our transmissions. Just so happens I had an extra one so I gave it to the agent. While monitoring it was clear that our coverage on the west side had emboldened activity to the east. Big Bob moved to the Donut Hole and I moved to ZHP. The Point had noticed a white van and black SUV moving in the area north of the Ranchita. And two more spotters were seen on the 241.
I relieved Big Bob at the Donut Hole for a while and then patrolled east to the 141. At 1745 I came back to the Point and tried to take a nap in Godzilla. Mongoose and Rattler had provided a tasty bar-b-que for the men and women on duty. No sooner than I had laid down the radio came alive with chatter. Big Bob had spotted a large group in the same rocks where we had flushed the 20 earlier that morning. I rolled up the road directly next to the 5 Star and got out on foot to peer around the end of the fence to see if I could spot them but I could not.
Big Bob was parked at the base of 241 looking east and I was on foot watching west. Infidel came by on his ATC and patrolled the road.
Then I relieved Bob at the base of 241 and parked my truck there. There were 4 spotters on top all hollering at me, no doubt trying to divert my attention. I got pissed and stormed the hill alone.
The men at top were furious that we had be stopping their groups all weekend. I told them to give up and go home and they said the same. I took pictures of them (when they weren’t ducking) and they got photos of me on their cell phones. I wonder how much the bounty on my head is now?
The “Fire Team” Infidel and Hotel Tango, two United States Marines who guard America’s freedom even on their days off, soon backed me up on the hill. Infidel invited the men to wrestle at the monument but they declined. (see th video in the previous post below) He offered to arm wrestle too and one man seemed for a moment to be considering the offer, approached slowly then retreated. It was cold and growing dark and we realized that they were spotting for groups on both sides of the 241. Things get a little murky at this point. We watched 7 TBS on the east side. And then two BP agents joined us on the hill. The agents seemed incredulous that we had not been rocked. Apparently the agents had been a time or two in confrontation like we were having right there on 241. Agents in trucks were all around the base and Big Bob, bless his heart, was was at the base of 241 once again watching my truck. The drama died down and the agents, Infidel, Hotel Tango and I descend the 241 at BP request, in hope the group on the west would try to cross.
Later I would find out they did indeed try to make it to America….right into the arms of the Border Patrol. They nabbed 11.
Back at the point I also realized I had left my binoculars on top of 241. Doubting that they would still be there I made the trip up again, Infidel and Hotel Tango backed me up without being asked. Lo and Behold my binos were still there!
At 0945 I parked at the 127 turnout for a while. BP came by and told me it was very quiet to the west and no one was on top of 241. The area was scoped. I patrolled for a few hours to the east and then by 0005 I was back in Godzilla for a well-deserved rest. Big Bob was still at the Donut Hole when I went to bed and Wildcard and Knucklehead manned the Couch Trail, Knucklehead armed with a superior thermal imaging device.
26MAY08 Memorial Day
I awakened at 0600 and was on the road home by 0615.
I took the scenic route home, a route the BP supervisor who regularly stops by Patriot Point had suggested. I took the S2 north out of Ocotillo. This was the old Butterfield Stage Coach route and a beautiful, historic diversion though it added about an hour to my drive home. Outside of Ocotillo I had my last encounter with the BP, gave them my card and commended them in their efforts to keep the homeland secure.
I hope to be back on the line some time around the weekend of June 14th or shortly there after. We have a great team at Patriot Point and an awesome bunch of Border Patrol agents. Please consider joining us on the line for whatever time and capacity you can give.