It didn’t make national news; it didn’t even make local news, but for hunters like me who sometimes hunt close to the U.S./Mexico border, it was certainly big news Friday when a hunter found the human remains of what authorities believe to be an illegal immigrant and/or drug runner who crossed from Mexico into Arizona’s Coronado National Forest. As for how I know of this considering the media never covered it, I was there, 30 miles from the border—and that hunter was my friend.
The previous day, I’d found evidence of what I later learned was a smuggler’s “drop site” where someone had dropped off a “dope load” of marijuana (as shown in the image below). Clearly an old site based on the deteriorated condition of the items left behind, I thought the knotted clothing (circled in black) was odd. A friend with ties to local law enforcement explained, “The illegals who smuggle drugs into the United States wrap them tightly in cellophane, put them in a burlap sack and then tie blanket strips around it to make shoulder straps. They take the bundle apart and leave everything behind as they ‘load out’ and walk back into Mexico. That knotted cloth you found was one of the straps.” Geographically far removed from border security issues, I let that sink in a minute.
The author came across this pile of debris on a recent hunt in Arizona. It was shortly thereafter that her friend discovered human remains in the area. (Image by Karen Mehall Phillips.)
“It’s amazing when you catch the mules [people who smuggle drugs on their backs],” he added. “They typically carry drugs in 50-pound packs and will have cuts three-quarters of an inch deep in their shoulders from straps rubbing into them.” I thought of how we hunters carry packs too, but ours have padded shoulder straps for comfort. “The illegals all have scars when they are caught,” he said, “as it takes them days to go the 31 to 35 miles they’re traveling to get where they are going to make the drop.”
About the Author: Karen Mehall Phillips is the director of communications for the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum and senior editor of NRA’s American Hunter. An avid rifle and bow hunter, she has hunted for 30 years and in 29 states, Canada, Italy, Finland, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Greenland and Africa, including for two of the Big Five.
Karen draws on her experience to educate non-hunters on the critical role that hunters play in wildlife conservation worldwide and to inform them of the dangers anti-hunting extremists present to the future of wildlife conservation. She is invested in fighting America's culture war on hunters and hunting and works to shed light on anti-hunters’ blatant attempts to tout emotion and misinformation over scientific facts.
An NRA Endowment member, Karen worked in the NRA public relations arena prior to joining NRA Publications in 1998. She is the founding editor of two NRA official journals: America's 1st Freedom and Woman's Outlook. National writing awards include being named the 2015 Carl Zeiss Sports Optics Writer of the Year. She actively promotes women and families in the outdoors. She is also a member of the Washington metropolitan area's Fairfax Rod & Gun Club, a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, a member of Safari Club International and a Life member of the Dallas Safari Club and the Mule Deer Foundation.