Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Devil's Highway the English translation of El Camino del Diablo, a 4x4 road that follows the border in the Prieta Cabeza National Wildlife refuge
The August issue of National Geographic Aventure magazine deals with the damage to our wildlife areas due to rampant migration and drug trafficing.

I wrote my initials beside item one, which said that I understood that the area I wished to visit "contains the danger of property damage and permanent, painful, disabling, and disfiguring injury or death due to high explosive detonations from falling objects such as aircraft, aerial targets, live ammunition, missiles, bombs, etc."

That was only the first item I needed to initial. There were 11 more.

The Hold Harmless Agreement must be signed by visitors to the area because the
Prieta Cabeza National Wildlife refuge has become a battleground of dead bodies, abandoned cars, and occasional gunfights between Border Agents and drug runners.

Prieta Cabeza is the home to the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope. It is estimated there are 75 in all of Arizona. Roger Di Rosa, manager of the Cabeza statse, "We have some 700 species of flora and fauna out here," Di Rosa said. "It's the richest desert in the world."

In 2002 the traffic through the Cabeza just exploded, Di Rosa said. "And last spring, 'coyotes' [people who lead UDAs through the desert for a fee] were bringing groups as large as a hundred through here. If someone is weak or falters, they just leave them. So instead of working on habitat recovery, animal recovery, or maintaining the wilderness character of the refuge, we've become a de facto Border Patrol as well as a search and rescue group." Di Rosa said that they have five or six deaths in the refuge every year. "But more get through the Cabeza and die up north, in the Goldwater Range."

In addition to the UDAs, (Undocumented Aliens) the Cabeza is now a prime spot for drug runners. Those who walk marijuana across the border, called "backpackers," carry 40-pound (18-kilogram) loads, and they usually travel in groups of 5 to 15. The smuggling can be very sophisticated: There are often resupply stations set up in the desert, filled with gallon (4-quart) jugs of water and covered over in camouflage netting. Spotters, some equipped with night-vision goggles, sit on the mountaintops and radio down to the smugglers that all is clear.

Other dope runners load up stolen vehicles with drugs and drive, hell-bent, through the desert to a safe house or a drop in the U.S. "There've been exchanges of gunfire here," Di Rosa said. "Luckily, no one's been hurt, but these guys have fully automatic weapons. AK-47s, Uzis, you name it. A Border Patrol helicopter was fired on last summer."

The Growler Valley was all but ruined, a graveyard for cars abandoned and abused, a labyrinth of off-road tracks, with garbage and human waste strewed everywhere.
Click here for Photos, blogger isn't uploading pics again.

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards,
email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.


Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

the Devils Highway..sounds about right to me!

July 16, 2006  
Blogger kevin said...

It's a reference to the heat I'm sure, a lot of places out here are named after the Devil or some sort of hellish imagery.

July 16, 2006  

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