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Leiva v. Ranch Rescue

Case Number


Ending illegal intimidation against immigrants

After a Texas rancher invited the vigilante border patrol group Ranch Rescue to guard his property, two Salvadorans crossing the border were terrorized and assaulted by members of the group. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Salvadorans, obtaining more than $1 million in a settlement and judgments, including the title to Ranch Rescue’s Arizona headquarters.

In March 2003, Fatima Leiva and Edwin Mancia were traveling on foot through Sutton Ranch in Texas when they were captured and held at gunpoint. Mancia was struck on the back of the head and a Rottweiler was allowed to attack him. The migrants represented in the suit claimed they were assaulted, falsely imprisoned, robbed and threatened with death by members of Ranch Rescue and their host, rancher Joe Sutton.  

The SPLC filed the lawsuit with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and local attorneys Ricardo de Anda and John Judge.

The SPLC obtained a pair of judgments totaling $1 million against Torre John "Jack" Foote, Ranch Rescue's leader, and Casey Nethercott, a Ranch Rescue member. Nethercott's 70-acre Arizona property, which was used as Ranch Rescue’s paramilitary training compound, was deeded to the Salvadorans. A $350,000 judgment also was awarded in the case, and a $100,000 out-of-court settlement was reached with Sutton.