Law Enforcement Leaders,
I wish to express my deep appreciation for your swift and immediate response in answer to our call for help during our officer involved shooting in western Pinal County. At approximately 4 PM on April 30th, Deputy Louie Purrol was tracking six drug smugglers (later known to be armed) in the remote desert area south of I-8 and west of Casa Grande, when he was ambushed and shot. Over 200 officers from local, state, tribal nations and our federal partners responded. Your help and support was tremendous and underscored the strength of our professional bond.
Though the investigation continues, we have several investigative leads and have identified three other Mexican Nationals, who are victims (robbed of cash and personal belongings) of the same suspects that shot Deputy Purrol. The Border Patrol apprehended two of four (two escaped) illegals along this smuggling corridor and recovered four fully loaded AK-47s in the three points area, located along the Pima/Pinal border. Two illegal immigrants with felony drug trafficking (cocaine) warrants out of the mid-west were also apprehended within our security perimeter. There were over 100 illegals apprehended within our security perimeter in the remote desert area south of I-8 and west of Casa Grande, just within 24 hrs we were there.
We conducted an internal AAR and also debriefed most participating agencies this past week. We have identified the strengths and weaknesses of our large scale tactical response, rescue and search for suspects. We have many areas that need improvement, largely in the command and control of such a critical incident. All leaders are in agreement that we must rehearse by means of table top and scenario based exercises, to ensure our coordinated response is most effective/successful.
I attached some recent Intel photos (taken in the past couple months) which clearly show numerous armed smugglers in Vekol Valley smuggling corridor along I-8. Yes, this is the very location of the shooting just 9 days ago.
Photo Attachment 1 :: Photo Attachment 2
Pinal County is not a border county with Mexico, yet we have para-military squad sized elements who are operating deep within Arizona. This is unacceptable and must be stopped. Though PCSO Deputy Purrol is safe and is back to work - must we have a Deputy killed by these smugglers before the federal government hears our plea for help?
We are discussing a multi-agency response to re-secure this part of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, that is within Pinal County. In the interim, I have directed a change in PCSO tactics, where all assignments for Operation Stonegarden shall be staffed in teams of two Deputies. They shall be armed with their assigned handgun and at least one M16/AR-15 or similar long gun/rifle.
Many of you joined me, when Sen. John McCain unveiled the McCain/Kyl 10 Point Border Security Plan, that calls for the immediate deployment of 3,000 National Guard Soldiers to the Arizona/Mexican border. http://johnmccain.com/borderplan
In my opinion, the only long term solution to slow and eventually stop the unending flow of illegals crossing into Arizona is this 10 Point Plan. It is comprehensive and it will work. If you have not seen this youtube video with many of us and Senator John McCain, then you should watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jb2RnFNb64 The national focus on border crimes couldn't have come at a better time, given the heightened level of violence by drug and human smugglers.
Thanks again for your partnership and your immediate response, when we called for help.
Paul Babeu, Sheriff
Pinal County, Arizona
President, Arizona Sheriff's Association