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Along the border, fears are growing that the escalating drug violence in Mexico will spill into the United States.

Last month, a well-known rancher was murdered in southeastern Arizona. Authorities suspect an illegal immigrant did it.

The murder prompted governors in New Mexico and Texas to send forces to the border. This week, the Mexican government sent dozens of police and soldiers to the Juarez Valley to restore order.

For many on both sides of the border, the fear is very real.

‘Arm Yourselves’

Last week, residents held a town-hall meeting in Fort Hancock, Texas — a sleepy agricultural town on the border, about an hour southeast of El Paso, that looks like the bleak set of No Country for Old Men.

A couple hundred people crowded into the grade-school gym to hear a chilling message from Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West.

“You farmers, I’m telling you right now, arm yourselves,” he said. “As they say the old story is, it’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six. Damn it, I don’t want to see six people carrying you.”

His warning was prompted by the killing of the Arizona rancher, and the spiraling violence a couple of miles away in Mexico in a region known as the Valley of Juarez. The notorious smuggling territory is being fought over by the Sinaloa and the Juarez cartels.

“One of the men that works for me had five people killed in front of his house over there [in Mexico] this past weekend,” says Curtis Carr, who is a farmer and county commissioner. “And he’s moving his family over here this week. It’s serious over there. Whether or not it’s gonna spill over here, I don’t know.”

Source: John Burnett for NPR.org.

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