PINAL COUNTY, AZ (KOLD) - A group of citizens plans to arm themselves with heavy weaponry and patrol the Vekol Valley area of Pinal County, looking for drug smugglers entering the country. They plan to conduct their patrol operation from 3:00pm Saturday to 3:00pm Sunday.
"We're going to block off the narcoterrorists that come up through this area," said Mesa resident Jason "J.T." Ready, who is organizing the gathering.
Ready says volunteers are coming from all over Arizona, and even out of state, to support the effort.
"This is the Minuteman Project on steroids," Ready explained. "We've got people with assault weapons. We will use lawful, deadly force where appropriate."
But Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu responds, "Though I appreciate their support and offer to take up arms and patrol, this would not be helpful, and would only cause a strain on already strained resources, and their safety needs to be a priority. I do not ask or encouraged them to come here."
The Vekol Valley area has become a highly-trafficked corridor for drug runners. The situation has become so dangerous that signs now warn people to stay away. Not far from the area, a Pinal County sheriff's deputy was shot and injured in late April.
Ready has ties to extremist groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, including a neo-Nazi group known as the National Socialist Movement. Ready has denied the group is neo-Nazi.
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