The Patriots Coalition, a new antigovernment ‘Patriot’ group founded by the former vice president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, is carrying out its first border vigilante operation targeting Latino immigrants and drug smugglers.
Along with Patriots Coalition members, the month-long event, dubbed Operation Spike, is drawing volunteers from other Minuteman splinter factions such as Minuteman of One.
Patriots Coalition founder and president Al Garza identifies the group as part of the Tea Party tax protest movement. The Patriots Coalition website is loaded with “birther” conspiracy theory materials and jokes about assassinating President Obama.
The Sierra Vista Herald reported that on Saturday, Sept. 26, there were 45 participants stationed in just one of several Operation Spike ‘border watch’ sectors. All the sectors are within a 50-mile radius of Palominas, a Cochise County, Ariz., border town located just east of Coronado National Forest.
Garza estimated that 200 to 300 border watchers would take part in the operation, which began Sept. 19 and is scheduled to conclude Oct. 19, though Garza said he may extend it to the end of October, depending upon turnout and results.
Operation Spike participants told the Herald they’d reported groups of 15 and 17 individuals along the border, as well as a larger group of 65 individuals, some of them carrying backpacks, accompanied by four “ninja-dressed” men armed with AK-47s.
“We are seasoned and we know what to look for," Garza told the Herald. "We know what to find. We know when we see something what to expect of it.”
A Border Patrol spokesman in Tucson served up the agency’s standard Minuteman disclaimer: “We don’t encourage people going out and actively looking because they are not trained as Border Patrol agents are trained. If something happens, they might put themselves in danger or they might endanger somebody else.”