PHOENIX — Minutemen groups, a surge in Border Patrol agents, and a tough new immigration law aren't enough for a reputed neo-Nazi who's now leading a militia in the Arizona desert.
Jason "J.T." Ready is taking matters into his own hands, declaring war on "narco-terrorists" and keeping an eye out for illegal immigrants. So far, he says his patrols have only found a few border crossers who were given water and handed over to the Border Patrol. Once, they also found a decaying body in a wash, and alerted authorities.
But local law enforcement agencies are nervous given that Ready's group is heavily armed and identifies with the National Socialist Movement, an organization that believes only non-Jewish, white heterosexuals should be American citizens and that everyone who isn't white should leave the country "peacefully or by force."
"We're not going to sit around and wait for the government anymore," Ready said. "This is what our founding fathers did."
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An increasing number of civilian border watches have taken root in Arizona in recent years, including the Minutemen movement. Various groups patrol the desert on foot, horseback and in airplanes and report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol, and generally, they have not caused problems for law enforcement.
But Ready, a 37-year-old ex-Marine, is different. He and his friends are outfitted with military fatigues, body armor and gas masks, and carry assault rifles. Ready takes offense at the term "neo-Nazi," but admits he identifies with the National Socialist Movement.
The patrols have been occurring on public land, and militia members have no real restrictions on their weaponry because of Arizona's loose gun laws.
Such groups continue to operate in Arizona, and law enforcement officials generally don't take issue with them as long as they don't take matters into their own hands.