Home invasions, sidearms off safety the norm for ranchers on Texas border

Home invasions, sidearms off safety the norm for ranchers on Texas border

Ronnie Osburn was preparing to talk to National Review Online Thursday about lawlessness in his border community when his home was broken into.

Osburn, a rancher who lives just south of a Border Patrol checkpoint in Brooks County, Texas, says he stepped away for about 45 minutes, and when he returned somebody had trashed his house. The trespassers shattered his gun case, leaving a trail of blood throughout the house, but dropped the guns near the kitchen before scattering out the back door. …

“Welcome to South Texas,” Osburn tells me while extending his hand.

“This is not the first time this has happened,” he says. “I have Border Patrol in here every day chasing groups, just about.” …

Osburn says he has had to take extra precautions in case of just such an attack. “When I go to sleep at night, I lay down and I put my pistol there, I measure it where if somebody comes in the house I can pick it up and go,” Osburn says. When mowing the lawn, Osburn says, ranchers in South Texas always need a pistol ready.

“Down here there’s no question, ‘Oh, was it loaded?’” Osburn says. “Well, hell yeah, it’s loaded. Why have a gun if it’s not loaded? And it’s off safety too. That’s the way we live.” …

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Linda Vickers says she has seen a higher criminal element trespassing through her property and says the OTM traffic coming through her ranch knows how to hug trees and hide in the salt grass. For this reason she has a team of dogs that travel along her property with her, and she can decipher when trespassers set foot on her property by the way her dogs bark. …

The dogs have also been known to recover the remains of illegal immigrants who don’t survive the elements while traveling across the ranch. … Mike Vickers says he almost ran over the body of a dead Salvadoran while driving along his fence line, and he says people who succumb to the heat may have horrifying experiences. “Birds have a tendency, the caracaras, to get after their eyes sometimes even when they’re comatose and not dead yet,” he says about a man who bled out through his eyes over his chest. “We see a lot of that.” …

“Back in the good old days everybody would do their ranch work, [and in the] afternoon get together, drink beer, have a good time,” Osburn says. “It’s not like that anymore. Everybody just watches their ass, you know?”

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