Thirty Volunteers armed to the teeth patrol the hundreds of thousands of acres of ranchland near this city of nearly 5,000. And they are expecting an influx of smugglers this weekend…“We always have big traffic at Easter,” he said. “It’s a big smuggling week for us.”

Isabel Vincent

New York Post

‘This is a war’: Meet the Texas ranchers forming their own border militia

For Mike Vickers, not much has changed here since 1823, the year a group of frontier lawmen formed the Texas Rangers to protect settlers and their land.

“We’re still dealing with the bad guys from Mexico,” Vickers, 69, told The Post, referring to smugglers who traffic in drugs and migrants. “This is a war.”

Dressed in a cowboy hat, tan cargo pants and weathered boots, Vickers, a veterinarian, runs Las Palmas Animal Hospital, but he’s also chairman of the Texas Border Volunteers, a 300-strong militia helping thinly spread Customs and Border Patrol agents cover more than a million acres of private land throughout the state’s border counties.

Thirty Volunteers armed to the teeth patrol the hundreds of thousands of acres of ranchland near this city of nearly 5,000. And they are expecting an influx of smugglers this weekend.

“We always have big traffic at Easter,” he said. “It’s a big smuggling week for us.”

The land, cut by mesquite and cactus, lies nearly 90 miles from the Mexican border but only 4.5 miles from a US Border Patrol checkpoint.

Traffickers want to avoid this interior checkpoint — located on the only highway in this part of the state — so vehicles crammed with drugs or migrants from Central America and even China drop off the migrants and smugglers south of the checkpoint.

Smugglers and their human cargo jump fences onto private ranches to traverse the vast expanses on foot.

The mesquite canopy is ideal cover, allowing them to hide from drones and National Guard helicopters that patrol the area.

“You never know what’s under that next tree,” said Vickers, whose 1,000-acre spread is one of the area’s smaller ranches.

The mission is dangerous for the Volunteers, and the journey is deadly for the migrants.

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