ARIVACA, Ariz. – A rancher along the southern border said he’s seen a significant increase in drug smugglers — sometimes toting guns — crossing his land and has found bodies of migrants who died on his property trying to make it into the U.S.
“We’ve been here 35 years now, and it’s a wonderful ranch, except we are very ticked off that all these drug packers are coming to my ranch to poison our American people,” Jim Chilton, owner of the Chilton Ranch, told Fox News.
WATCH AN ARIZONA RANCHER EXPLAIN WHAT HE’S SEEN AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER:
Part of Chilton’s property was protected by the border wall. He urged President Biden and Congress to finish construction in order to protect the country — and him and his wife. He said on one occasion, Chilton’s wife, Sue, was home alone and answered a knock on the door to MS-13 members carrying guns.
“It’s kind of scary,” Chilton, who comes from a long line of ranchers, told Fox News. “That’s just life on the border.”
Chilton said thousands of migrants crossed his property in 2022, marking a significant increase from years prior. He suspects many are carrying drugs.
On Monday, Arizona border officials in Nogales, around 30 miles from Chilton, seized around 776,000 fentanyl pills, 289 pounds of meth, and 55 pounds of heroin, Customs and Border Protection Nogales Port Director Michael Humphries tweeted. Nearly 15,000 pounds of fentanyl has been seized along the southern border this year, according to CBP.
Yet Chilton and his wife have still helped migrants on multiple occasions despite safety concerns as more knocked on their door for help.
“Nobody deserves to die in the desert,” regardless of whether they are criminals, Chilton said. “We try to help people by providing water but all the bad guys come to our ranch.”
Chilton said he installed drinking fountains to serve migrants. Still, he’s found he’s had “a lot of people die on the ranch.”
At least 853 migrants died crossing the southern border this year, surpassing the previous record of 547 in 2021, according to U.S. Border Patrol data obtained by CBS News.
“We see the humanitarian crisis,” Chilton said. “The real truth is a wall can save lives.”
Nearly 4 million migrants have crossed into the United States since Biden took office, according to CBP. Close to 1 million of those migrants have traveled through Arizona.
Chilton blames the influx on the unfinished border wall that Biden halted in 2021.
“Congress needs to appropriate the money to secure the border,” Chilton said. “If there was a wall people wouldn’t be losing their lives on my ranch and other ranches.”
SEE WHAT ARIZONANS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE BARRIERS ALONG THE BORDER:
Despite their safety concerns, the Chilton’s refuse to leave their ranch of three decades.
“Many of my fellow ranchers in this area have left,” Chilton said. “I have a family cemetery, and I’m either gonna be on top of the ground or below the ground but I’m not leaving.”
To hear more about life on the southern border at Chilton’s ranch, click here.