Lou Dobbs Tonight -- CNN - Monday, April 5, 2004 -- See American Patrol Feature of April 6, 2004
DOBBS: U.S. border patrol agents today saved the lives of several Mexican citizens trapped on their rooftops during a flash flood just accord the border in northern Mexico. Authorities say the Escondido River rose 25 feet in 15 minutes. 21 people were killed in the flooding, dozens more remain missing tonight.
In broken borders, the federal government has begun cracking down on the smuggling of illegal drugs and aliens along Arizona's border with Mexico. At the same time, desperate smugglers are becoming more violent, especially toward the residents of the area. Casey Wian reports from Douglas, Arizona.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richard Kozak bought this 40-acre spread in Arizona to retire, but lately he's been busy trying to keep violent drug smugglers crossing the nearby Mexican border off of his property. Barricades didn't work, and two weeks ago, a smuggler's truck came too close.
RICHARD KOZAK, BORDER RESIDENT: He went down my driveway here about 200 yards, and stopped. He turned around and came back towards the house. When he did, I fired three times into the hood of the truck, but didn't disable it.
WIAN: The truck fled. A half hour later, the smugglers returned.
KOZAK: I think that they were trying to teach me a lesson about trying to stop them, and so they snuck up in back of the house, torched the trailer, and opened fire.
WIAN: A barrage of AK-47 and 9-millimeter bullets hit his house. Kozak says he returned fire, but too late to save his trailer, which burned to the ground.
Fifty miles northwest in Sierra Vista, near several alien smuggling trails, school children catch the bus, under the watch of sheriff department's volunteers. They've been patrolling bus stops since a group of illegal aliens carjacked a mother and daughter on their way to school two months ago.
LT. MARK DANNELS, COCHISE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We're trying to keep -- let people know we're out there for them. The other part of that is, let the illegals, when they see the marked unit, the volunteer unit, that they will go the other way.
WIAN: Just driving down the street, it's common to encounter scenes like this, a suspected alien smuggler fleeing authorities in a stolen car. This one didn't get away.
(on camera): Contact with illegal alien trafficking is a fact of daily life for residents of Arizona border counties. This pursuit and bust happened just across the street from a residential neighborhood.
(voice-over): A growing number of residents are arming themselves and patrolling their neighborhoods. The local sheriff understands.
SHERIFF LARRY DEVER, COCHISE COUNTY, ARIZONA: When aliens cross that fence, more likely than not, they're in someone's backyard. And it may be a 2,000-acre backyard, or it may be a 200-square-foot backyard, but it's still my backyard. And you don't have a right to be there without my permission. There really is a cauldron here boiling.
WIAN: Dever welcomes the federal government's deployment of more manpower and technology on the Arizona border, though he calls its response to conditions here "painfully slow."
Casey Wian, CNN, Douglas, Arizona.
DOBBS: Over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard said it stopped six boats, 345 illegal aliens aboard those six boats, trying to enter the United States. The action was taken with the help of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Dominican Republic's navy.