The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Latest Nativist Horror Story: Once More, It’s a Fairy Tale

By Larry Keller on July 26, 2010 - 3:23 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

It had the makings of a dramatic story: Members of a Mexican drug cartel on Saturday took control of two ranches in Laredo, Texas, as the ranch owners fled for their lives.

If only it were true.

The tale, reported by Dan Amato, a Pennsylvania anti-immigration blogger, gained traction throughout the blogosphere. Amato, who blogs under the name of Digger, claimed that members of Los Zetas — dangerous Mexican gunmen heavily involved in the international drug trade and other criminal activities — had crossed from Mexico into Texas and taken over the two ranches in the border city of Laredo. “The source is law enforcement in the area,” Amato wrote from his perch some 1,800 miles away.

In truth, Amato’s source was Jeff Schwilk, the bellicose leader of the virulent San Diego Minutemen anti-immigration group, as Amato subsequently revealed. Schwilk’s home base is about 1,300 miles from Laredo. And Schwilk’s source? Another San Diego anti-immigration diehard, Kimberly Dvorak. She wrote on Saturday at that the so-called ranches takeover “could be deemed an act of war against the sovereign borders of the United States.”

No such pronouncements were forthcoming from the White House or the State Department. Perhaps that’s because the Amato-Schwilk-Dvorak troika appears to be trafficking in pure fiction.

At least a few real-life reporters contacted local authorities about the supposed international incident. Haven’t heard a word about it, said the Laredo Police Department. Same here, said the Webb County Sheriff’s Department. Ditto, added the U.S. Border Patrol.

As Amato began fielding skeptical queries later on Saturday, he disclosed that contrary to his moniker of “Digger,” he did no digging at all to determine the veracity of the story. Instead, he relied on second-hand and third-hand information, first from Schwilk, then Dvorak. The latter supposedly “had made multiple confirmations within the Laredo Police Department.” At that point, Amato said, “the story to me … was 100% confirmed.”

Amato had a simple explanation as to why local law enforcement said they knew nothing of the brazen actions by Los Zetas. With the deluge of media phone calls, “there may indeed by (sic) a bona-fide news blackout as they try to resolve the situation,” he wrote. “The story is still developing and I’ll report more as I find out,” the Digger added on Saturday.

Amato did not immediately respond to an email from Hatewatch today asking if he still stands by his story. Apparently, the “story” is still developing.

  • ORLY

    Funny thing is – the SPLC deems from their “perch” that this story is not true and they chastise Digger for not spending his own money to fly to Texas and check the facts – meanwhile the SPLC has not checked out the facts either and they are quoting law enforcement who are denying the story. I’m sure that never happens – that a story is covered up by the local media. I mean, the journalists and local law enforcement I’m sure would risk their lives to put the truth out there right?

    SPLC has lots of money but they are too lazy to do their own fact checking because if they did, the facts would not fit their anti-American agenda.

    Go to hell SPLC

  • Mr Wright

    Even sites yoyu think would be benign are getting hateful. Check out this animal welfare site that some silly woman got a big bigoted anti-hispanic discussion going on in. This is not the first time this happened there. Last year they chased a muslim woman off of the site and sent her hate messages and a guy who defended her. His crime? To wear an Obama hat and have sunglasses on. And oh yeah, happened to be african-american and darker skinned. The demographics of that site is very narrow and you can tell. You will notice important journals get few posts, but this one will likely top 50 before it’s over with. The same few nonsense slingers post since most of the sensible folks have long gone after some contests the site had, but it concerns me that kids frequent sites like that, and that’s what they are learning supposedly kind people do. Why not tell them what you think of such things?

  • ruben

    if you scratch the surface a little you would find out that most of the san diego minute men are white supremacists and neo nazi’s……so why would you expect any thing less then world war2 nazi style propaganda b.s from these people?….i think fox news and dillusional people like amato are the only ones who buy into these bogus lies.

  • Carter

    Anyone who REALLY knows what Los Zetas is all about knows that the likelihood of the “ranchers fleeing for their lives” is quite improbable.
    If such a nightmare really happened the greatest probability is that the ranchers would never be found, that the story would not surface until quite a bit later, and that even then the specific issues are ones that would NOT be available to the public.
    The seriousness of that particular problem are both State Dept. & DEA agendas. When issues of that magnitude are exploited for sensationalize, they often can be debunked if appropriate inquires are made.

  • daemonesslisa

    I’m sure Fox “News” or any number of those sped bloggers affiliated with/influenced by them are gonna run with this story.