Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 17, 2012

Exposed: US Border Patrol plans massive complex on sovereign Tohono O'odham land

US Border Patrol plans to expand the militarization of Tohono O'odham land with new three-acre complex on tribal land
By Brenda Norrell
Copyright Censored News
French translation by Christine Prat!

SELLS, Ariz. (Sept. 17, 2012) -- Ignoring human rights appeals and outrage over the abuse of O'odham by US Border Patrol agents, Homeland Security plans to construct a new massive US Border Patrol complex on sovereign Tohono O’odham land in Pisinemo District. It would house 32 Border Patrol agents, with a helicopter launch pad, horses, dogs, and spy tower, Censored News has discovered in federal documents.

As usual, a Finding of No Significant Impact was declared in an August report, despite the fact that saguaro in the region are home to the federally protected species of the lesser long-nosed bat. The proposed three-acre US Border Patrol complex would include a helicopter launch pad, housing, horse corrals, canine pens, communication tower and remote surveillance tower.

The planned complex is marked in red. Source federal document.
Click to enlarge.
The site in Pisinemo District is an alternative because O’odham rejected the complex in the communities of Dirtburn and Kupk on Tohono O’odham land, according to the federal document.

Although the plan has been intentionally concealed, the public comment period ends on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012.

In this area, there are Tohono O’odham culturally sensitive plants including saguaro, cholla, Palo Verde, prickly pear cactus, mesquite and wolfberry.

The massive complex would add to the noise and pose more risks to local O’odham from helicopters, increased pollution, increased water usage by the Border Patrol, and disturb the fragile land of the Sonoran Desert. Further, more O’odham land would be seized for the corridor for a separate electrical transmission line which would be constructed to the north, according to the documents.

US spy tower on Tohono
O'odham land south of Sells.
Photo Brenda Norrell.
Already O’odham are protesting the militarization, constant harassment and abuse by US Border Patrol agents here. An O’odham was beaten in front of school children at a school bus, and other agents have held O’odham women and elderly at gunpoint. Still other border agents have shined flashlights into O’odham women’s homes at night, stalked O’odham women, endangered O’odham lives with high rates of speed and destroyed the fragile desert with off road vehicles. Further, the constant spying and searches by federal agents have left many O'odham living in a state of fear.

Tohono O’odham Bennett Patricio, 18, was run over and killed by the US Border Patrol in this region. Bennett was crushed as he walked home at dawn. Bennett's family sought justice in federal court and accused the US Border Patrol agents of intentionally murdering him. They believe Bennett walked upon the border agents involved in a drug transfer in the desert. The Border Patrol agents were never held accountable.

O'odham protesting the US Border Patrol say they can not depend on their tribal government to protect them because it has been coopted by the US government.

Hundreds of US Border Patrol agents have been arrested for drug trafficking and conspiracy. The US ATF has already been exposed for Project Gunrunner, which has supplied cartels with assault weapons since it began in 2005 in Laredo, Texas, then expanded to the Arizona border.


Devon G. Peña said...

Estimada Brenda:

I have re-posted your outstanding breaking news report on the proposed BP FOB on O'Odham land with a brief moderator's comment to Mexmigration.

Please go to:


Censored News, publisher Brenda Norrell said...

Thanks Devon Pena, Please feel free to post and share the article. Best, Brenda