Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 29, 2023

Drugs and Weapons: Newspaper Spin Hides the United States Crimes at the Border

Saguaro cactus recklessly destroyed to build the border wall at Ajo, Arizona. Photo by Laiken Jordahl


The United States crimes at the southern border are concealed by the collapsed media, bolstered by government spin, and upheld by the federal courts

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

One of the most censored issues is the fact that the U.S. Border Patrol is running drugs at the border.

Raymond Mattia, Tohono O'odham, murdered by U.S. Border Patrol agents, was outspoken about this. Ten years ago, Raymond told me that he had videotaped U.S. Border Patrol agents locally working with the cartels and drug running. When he submitted this video evidence as a complaint, the video disappeared.

On the night he was murdered by the U.S. Border Patrol, at his home on the western side of the Tohono O'odham Nation, Raymond was on the phone with his sister when the Border Patrol agents arrived. He said he would go outside and talk to them.

They murdered Raymond as he came out the door, on his front steps. Three officers fired their weapons. They told the family at the scene that they shot him 38 times. The Border Patrol left Raymond there for seven hours. The Border Patrol has not released its body cam footage.

On Saturday, Raymond's family and friends protested at U.S. Border Patrol stations in Ajo, adjacent to the western portion of the Tohono O'odham Nation, and at the headquarters in Tucson. 

U.S. agents don't just run drugs -- they also run weapons

The United States agents don't just run drugs, they run weapons. And it was considered legal.

The U.S. Border Patrol agents have been arrested in southern Arizona for drug running and spotting for the cartels to bring their drug loads across.

There were no arrests for the operations of the United States government's ATF during its operation to "walk" weapons across the border.

Arizona police circulated this "weapons of choice" of the ATF gun-running in 2008 in their e-mails.

It began on the Texas border in 2005 during the Bush administration with Operation Gunrunner, and continued through the Obama administration with Operation Wide Receiver in Tucson. The ATF said it planned to put high-powered automatic weapons in the hands of the cartels, and track the weapons in its investigations. That didn't happen.

The weapons were impossible to track in Mexico, and the cartels used these weapons in brutal murders in crimes that included horrific tortures. The gun-running operations resulted in the U.S. working closely with one of the cartels in Sonora, Mexico, south of the Arizona border.

It became public when one U.S. Border Patrol agent was murdered with one of these weapons north of Nogales, Arizona. The details were exposed by the news media, and the hacker who leaked Arizona police emails and placed those online. The U.S. Army and Navy were included in the e-mails about the gun-running.

Biden's Runaway Train

Today, Biden, Interior Sec. Deb Haaland, and the BLM are violating federal laws, by granting mining, and pushing mining, for foreign corporations.

This includes lithium mining at the Paiute Massacre site at Thacker Pass in northern Nevada, where Paiute and Shoshone are blocking trucks with their bodies; lithium mining at Quechan's sacred place in southern California; and the copper mine targeting Apaches' sacred Oak Flat. The mine being promoted by the U.S. government at Oak Flat in central Arizona, for the benefit of a foreign corporation, would dump its waste on a historic O'odham burial place.

Already, the United States violated, and waived, these 32 laws for the border wall to be built. Today, the federal courts have joined the Biden administration to knowingly violate these laws created to protect Native American burial and ceremonial places; endangered species and groundwater.

The Center for Biological Diversity exposed this:

Censored News Born of Censorship

When I began Censored News 17 years ago, it was to share the words of those censored by Indian Country Today after the newspaper was sold to new owners. They deserved for their voices to be heard, including Louise Benally of Big Mountain, Buffy Sainte Marie, Lenny Foster speaking on Peltier's rights violated in prison, Bahe Katenaay speaking on the oil and gas drilling in the place of origin Dinetah, and San Carlos elders defending their land and water.

At the time I was fired as a staff reporter, I was traveling to the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit on San Xavier on the Tohono O'odham Nation, and a delegation of Mohawks was en route from the north.

I had just finished a year later series from the Louisiana coast and published the fact that the Red Cross received millions designated for Native hurricane relief, and Natives there had not received a penny of it.

Indian Country Today had just rewritten a controversial story of mine involving the bird flu, and turned it into a commercial for the drug being promoted for it. And the editors refused to run a correction.

The newspaper, Indian Country Today, has had several owners since that time. One of the most disheartening downward spirals is the fact that it deliberately began a deceptive type of news reporting at that time. It is a hoax, and it is meant to deceive. 

When they fired those of us who actually went out and covered the news, they began to rely on "reporters" who rarely left their homes. They used a mix of plagiarism, rewrites and brief phone calls to deceive readers. They usually added a photo stolen from the web, which put Native reporters out of work.

Some "reporters" spent their entire careers doing this. And the detriment is in the fact that people who live on the land were not heard.

That was 17 years ago, and today this is the primary hoax of news coverage in Indian country, even by those receiving $100,000 and million dollar grants to cover Indian country. When Tim Giago, Lakota, sold Indian Country Today, it was with the hope that the staff would be able to go out and cover the news and have more of their expenses covered. That didn't happen. Many of us were plunged into debt by increased demands by the new owners, and we spent years struggling to survive the debt.

Today, online news and social media favor those engaged in self-promotion, and unfortunately, most of it is taken as facts. Today, Censored News is a collective of writers, photographers, broadcasters, and translators who wanted it to continue. There are no ads, salaries or revenues. Thanks to all of them, it did not die. And as a final note, it is important for readers to know, before Indian Country Today fired me, they warned me, in writing, that if I didn't stop writing about "grassroots" Native people, I would be fired.

About the author

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 40 years, beginning as a reporter for Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She was a correspondent for Lakota Times, Associated Press and USA Today on the Navajo Nation. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated. She began Censored News in 2016. She has a master's degree in international health.

Copyright Censored News. May not be used without written permission.

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