Robert Crooks, 58
Campo, Calif.


For most Minutemen, armed patrols of the U.S.-Mexico border are a weekend hobby. For Robert "Little Dog" Crooks, 58, it's a way of life. The ornery 58-year-old literally makes his home on the border, living out of a RV camper with an attached Port-A-Potty on a desert hilltop just west of Patriot Point 242, the stone obelisk in California that marks the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. "We're playing king of the mountain, and so far I'm king," Crooks boasts in one of many self-produced promotional videos.

Crooks, a retired commercial fishermen from Oregon, first set up camp in May 2006. His tiny outfit, the Mountain Minutemen, also known as the Patriot Point Posse, is one of several particularly hard-core rogue Minutemen factions operating in the rugged border region between Campo and Jacumba, Calif. At one time, Crooks was doubling as the head of Campo operations for the Minuteman Project. But his penchant for name-calling and gunplay have made him persona non grata among Minutemen leaders who court mainstream media coverage.

For example, in July 2007 Crooks distributed a chilling video that appeared to show a Mexican immigrant being hunted and killed by a Minuteman sniper using a night-vision scope. After the Intelligence Report publicized the video, Crooks told law enforcement investigators that he and another Minuteman had staged it because "[w]e're old men and we're bored." Minuteman Project leader Jim Gilchrist subsequently banned his group's members from having any contact with Crooks, and stated publicly that he would no longer provide Crooks with supplies.

Whereas the Minuteman Project and most similar major civilian border patrol groups have detailed "Standard Operating Procedures," the Mountain Minutemen's rules of engagement, as detailed on the group's website, are basic: "Don't shoot anybody you're not supposed to shoot."