Arizona Sheriff Exaggerating Immigration Crime, and its Not Even Joe Arpaio

Electing law enforcement officers is a terrible idea, but like most of the country, we do it here in Arizona.  We shouldn't be surprised, then, when Sheriff's try to pump up their image by portraying themselves as the last bastion against an invading horde.

When it was over, Sheriff Paul Babeu issued a news release declaring that Pinal County is "the No. 1 pass-through county in all of America for drug and human trafficking."

It's a line the sheriff has used countless times - most recently on Thursday in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security - as he criticizes the federal government for failing to secure the border.

There's just one problem: There is no data to support the assertion.

In fact, an Arizona Republic analysis of statistics from local, state and federal sources found that, while sheriff's officials do bust smugglers and seize pot, Pinal County accounts for only a fraction of overall trafficking.

The newspaper also found that other headline-grabbing claims by Babeu are contradicted by statistical evidence or greatly exaggerated.

Babeu's County, for example, does not even touch the border.   And crime rates in AZ have fallen faster over the last 10 years than the national average, right during the period of high illegal immigration.


  1. diaper:

    It doesn't seem much exaggeration because there are many facts in that.

  2. GP Hanner:

    We get the same thing around here -- only extends beyond law enforcement. The fire department puffs up its image with no evidence to support its claims (or at least it did under old management). The city council imposed an annual fee on everyone (businesses and homeowners)who have monitored security systems installed. The claim was that the cops responding to false alarms cost the tax payers "a lot of money." I asked the city council and the police chief to provide supporting data. That was four years ago. Nothing yet.

  3. EarlW:

    What about the videos of people crossing the border illegally?
    Are they crossing in large numbers but not behaving illegally (other than the act of crossing the border)?

    I'm up in Canada, so it's difficult for me to understand if there is really a problem.

  4. Dr. T:

    I've called you on this before, but you keep using the same misleading statistics. The crime rate in Arizona has fallen not because the numbers of crimes decreased (they are up by more than 5% since 2000), but because there was a massive increase in population (mostly retirees who moved to Arizona) that increased the denominator. Many states had absolute decreases in crime rates since 2000, so Arizona's increase stands out.

  5. John Moore:

    You also neglect the fact that the federal government put up billboards in Pinal County, just 30 miles south of Phoenix, warning people not to go into the desert because of the danger of drug traffickers and people smugglers.

    When the government warns you off of US land because of invaders from another country, I'd say its a really big and serious issue.

    When it comes to immigration, some people just ignore the concepts of rule of law and national sovereignty. Fortunately, most of us who vote in Arizona know better.

    Babeu may be grandstanding a bit, but he's right - it's a big problem in his county, and an even bigger one in ours (Maricopa).

  6. R: