It's not all that unusual for former Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo to get fired up about what he sees as the unprotected border between the United States and Mexico. In fact, he did so earlier this month, when he suggested that the Obama administration was gleeful at the technical failures that killed a virtual-border-fence program.
But this morning, Tancredo gets downright angry when discussing the topic, for very personal reasons. He was planning to meet this weekend with a group of ranchers living near the Arizona-Mexico border when he got word that one of the men he expected to see -- Rob Krentz -- had been murdered, possibly by a drug smuggler heading back to Mexico.
Beginning early Sunday, shortly after the call about Krentz came in, Tancredo documented the search for Krentz's killer on his Twitter account. The thread, on view below, ends with this brief note: "He got away."
Tancredo was in Arizona to speak to a Tea Party rally in the town of Sonoita, about twenty miles from the border. He speaks enthusiastically about the gathering, which attracted a crowd of 500 or so folks, by his estimate -- very impressive for a community that registered a population of 826 in the 2000 census, according to a Wikipedia page about the town.
In addition, Tancredo says, "I was going to take the opportunity of being in Arizona to meet with some ranchers I know and get their take on what's happening down there. And one of the individuals with whom I was to meet, and a person I've known for many years, was Rob Krentz, who was killed by an illegal alien on his ranch. It's probably one of two types of people -- either a coyote who's taken his load up and is returning, or it's a drug dealer coming back."
At this point, Krentz's murder is still being investigated. But according to Tancredo, Krentz "called his brother, Phil, on the two-way at about ten o'clock in the morning and said, 'I've got an illegal alien here.' After that, the message was garbled. We don't know if he said, 'I'm hurt' or 'He's hurt.' But they didn't find him until about eleven o'clock at night. He'd been shot with a 9mm Glock -- and the guy shot his dog, too, before he got away. Apparently, a home a few miles away had been broken into and a 9mm Glock was stolen. It's my understanding the sheriff down there is looking at the possibility that Rob was killed by that gun."
Word of this incident reached Tancredo early the next morning -- "and when we got down there, they were in the middle of the chase after this guy," he says. "We went to the Krentz family's home, and to the site where Rob was killed." Authorities "thought they had [the suspect] a couple of times, but the problem is, they have so many illegal aliens running around the desert that they couldn't tell which was which." In the end, "they found his tracks on the border and realized that he'd crossed over and is back in Mexico."
Afterward, Tancredo issued a press release about the murder through his Rocky Mountain Foundation, calling on Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano to send National Guard troops to defend the border.
"This is a war on the border," he says. "I don't know what the hell we have to see in order to understand that. These people have been living in a nightmare scenario for well over ten years, and now one of them's dead. All of them have had their homes broken into and everything stolen -- cars, tractors, you name it. It's just been an incredible situation for them.
"Of course, then all these people get north of there and get into the cities. And you know what's happening in Phoenix: It's now the kidnapping capital of America. And all of this is happening because the borders aren't secure. No matter how many times [Napolitano] says it, it isn't true. It's like Hickenlooper saying Denver isn't a sanctuary city, or Obama saying that if everyone has health care, the cost of health care is automatically going to go down. These people say things and expect everybody to walk away believing it, but they're bald-faced liars.
"It's not as if these things have been happening in a cloistered environment. It's all over the place, and people are simply lying about it. The problem has been that the border patrol has been neutered, totally neutered, and they can't really do anything. They don't pose any real threat to people coming across. People, when they're captured by the border patrol, their biggest concern is when they're going to be fed and taken back to the border, so they can start the trek again.
"This is a military problem. We're being invaded, and the military has the expertise and the equipment to do something about it. We need to get them out there. We need to have them on the border."
Not that he expects Napolitano to answer his plea. He acknowledges that he's called for troops on the border many times before and been ignored. But now, he feels more urgency than ever. Immigration matters are starting to attract more attention again now that the health-care debate has moved into a new phase, and he says "as an amnesty bill progresses, we'll see if we can't create a press conference in Washington and bring some of the Krentz family there, along with a bunch of other people from the area."
At that time, he'd also like to show video taken by another man living nearby.
"He's got these motion-activated cameras, and you can't just watch hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people going through," he says. "It's really amazing. And I'd like to put a little caption underneath each person walking past that says, 'Job... job... job... job...' Because where are all these people going to work? Either they're going to take somebody else's job or they're not going to work at all and go on welfare."
On the next page, check out Tancredo's Twitter account of the Krentz pursuit, followed by the Rocky Mountain Foundation press release:
Was 2 meet today here in AZ with folks re violence on border Just got a call Brother of one of the mtg participants found shot to death thi 7:52 AM Mar 28th via mobile web
am Last heard from when he called Border Patrol to reports illegal aliens on his property 7:55 AM Mar 28th via mobile web
Found out I know the rancher killed by the illegal alien Am heading there now Apparently the illegal is heading back to Mexico They think about 23 hours ago via mobile web
he is heading for Mexico but may have about 23 hours ago via mobile web
they a getting close to a capture Stay tuned WE NEED MILITARY ON THIS BORDER!! about 23 hours ago via mobile web
God I hope they catch this bastard before he gets to Mexico about 22 hours ago via mobile web
Seven Sheriff Deputies just sped past us Hope they got him about 22 hours ago via mobile web
He shot Rob's dog Was dying when Sheriff got to scene They put him down about 21 hours ago via mobile web
The son of a bitch shot Rob's dog too Was about 21 hours ago via mobile web
barely alive when Sheriff got to scene Had to put it down we are almost at the scene Will take pictures and try to post layer about 21 hours ago via mobile web
am at the scene lonely place to die about 21 hours ago via mobile web
they have lost hus tracks about 21 hours ago via mobile web
going to visit family niw this is ginna be tough about 20 hours ago via mobile web
found tracks again Believe he is still on our side prayers for family just talked to JD about 19 hours ago via mobile web
Am at a meeting now at local rancher's home near Douglas, AZ with ten other ranch families. about 19 hours ago via web
The murdered man's last words to his brother by phone were that he was going to help an ilelgal who appeared to need medical attention. about 18 hours ago via web
# He got away about 18 hours ago via mobile web
Tancredo calls for Napolitano to Send National Guard to Border after Murder of Cochise County Rancher
Douglas, AZ -- After the brutal murder this weekend of a rancher near the Arizona-Mexico border, former Congressman Tom Tancredo today called on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to "reject politics and do the right thing and send the National Guard to the border."
Tancredo was visiting the area when the murder occurred. He spoke Saturday afternoon at a Tea Party rally in Sonoita, Arizona, and met on Sunday with a group of local ranchers concerned about deteriorating conditions on the border.
"As Governor of Arizona, Napolitano deployed the National Guard to help the Border Patrol do its job. Yesterday's murder of rancher Rob Krentz on his own land 25 miles from the Mexican border makes it clear that that job remains unfinished," said Tancredo.
"Three days ago, Napolitatno told an audience at Arizona State University that the border is more secure than ever," said Tancredo. "I challenge her --- no I dare her ¾ to come to this community and try to sell that lie. The residents here know better."
Tancredo pointed out that Obama has halted the construction of new border fencing and halted the increase in Border Patrol manpower begun under Bush.
"Now that Obama and Napolitano are talking openly of pushing a new amnesty program, the border invasion has resumed. Mexicans and residents in Guatemala and Honduras read those stories," Tancredo said. "If Congress takes up an amnesty bill, the flood across the border will be unstoppable."
Border Patrol spokesmen have confirmed that over the past three months, apprehensions on the Arizona border have jumped over 25% from the same period a year ago after a decline the previous year. The Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol has also confirmed that over 20% of all persons apprehended have prior criminal records in the U.S. The criminal backgrounds of individuals in their country of origin are unknown.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.