Yesterday we were driving down the long, straight road between home and town, but turning off about 3 miles before town to head to a different town altogether. A couple of miles from that turn, we saw a little red car parked by the side of the road. Thinking it might be a stranded motorist, we slowed a little. But then we noticed that the trunk was open, and a young Hispanic man was shoving what looked like a giant bale of cardboard—or something wrapped in cardboard—into the trunk. As we drove past, a black bag came sailing over the barbed wire fence beside the car, and then another big bale, and another guy appeared to help with the loading.
Now, there might be a perfectly innocent explanation for all this. But I doubt it. From the looks of it, we could only assume that the people were loading smuggled dope into a car. I have no idea how those big bales got to that point—they couldn’t have been carried up by hand, to this point 10 or 12 miles from the line. Presumably it was dropped off there by another vehicle.
We realized that neither of us had ever programmed the non-emergency numbers for the sheriff or Border Patrol into our phones. We also realized that we had not paid attention to what kind of car it was, other than red. Had we known when we approached it what was going on, we might have been more observant, but at the time we were just looking to see if anybody needed our help. Ordinarily Border Patrol is ubiquitous in that area, but we couldn’t find any, and didn’t see a sheriff’s vehicle for the next 15 or 20 minutes.
In other words, we completely failed to be able to assist in the interception of what looked like a lot of dope. As with other border issues, of course, even this one is more complex than it appears at first. There are communities in which selling dope is the only industry that exists. The Mexican economy is largely dependent on drug money, and to kick out that leg of their economic stool would likely result in an increase in illegal immigration. And there are people on this side of the line who happily buy and use the stuff.
On the other hand, I see it as a plague—largely self-inflicted, but a plague just the same, one responsible for an increasing wave of violence below the border, a never-ending flow of American money and guns into Mexico, and a deleterious effect on communities all over the United States.
I have now entered those numbers into my phone. I will make an effort to be more observant, and should I see something like that again, I’ll try to do something about it. Seeing it and being unable to act, short of calling 911, which didn’t seem appropriate at the time, was frustrating, and I don’t want that to happen again.