High noon at not-ok corral
Last Updated: 7:25 AM, December 5, 2010
Posted: 1:56 AM, December 5, 2010
He defended his home like it was the Alamo.
A 77-year-old rancher gave drug-cartel thugs the fight of their lives when they tried to take possession of his sprawling property in northern Mexico, becoming a folk hero in a region ravaged by violence.
Alejo Garza Tamez turned his humble farmhouse into a fortress for his last stand -- lining up his numerous hunting rifles in windows and doorways -- after receiving an ultimatum on Nov. 13 from the drug-gang guerrillas to vacate within 24 hours or die.
The lionhearted rancher was ready when two truckloads of heavily armed gang members returned the next morning.
"He'd told me he'd gotten threats, but he didn't notify the authorities. He never trusted them," his daughter Sandra Garza told Telediario Nocturno.
Authorities said the cartel first rolled up that Saturday to Garza's ranch, located about 15 miles outside of Ciudad Victoria, to tell him the house he'd built by hand 34 years ago was on land they needed to expand their cocaine and marijuana routes to the US border.
Garza immediately dismissed all the workers on his ranch and told them not to come to work the next day.
Then the hunter and gun collector gathered up every weapon he could muster.
He perched guns in the windows and doors, lining the floors with extra ammo. And he waited in the dark and silence.
It was close to 4 a.m. on Sunday when the distant sound of roaring engines came to his ears.
The cartel members drove onto his property in large trucks, toting assault rifles and firing shots into the air.
As they clambered down, one of them shouted that they'd come to claim ownership of the ranch, and anyone left inside should come out with their hands up.
Instead, the sole inhabitant opened fire.
Pandemonium broke out, with terrified gang members diving for cover while Garza moved from window to window, picking them off one by one.
He shot so fast and furiously that the confused cartel assumed there were several people inside. Dropping their assault rifles, the thugs lobbed hand grenades into the ranch house until the shooting stopped.
When the Mexican army finally showed up after the gunfight, they found four dead and two injured gang members piled in a heap outside the shelled, bullet-pocked farmhouse.
Inside, amid a pile of rubble, was the lifeless, bullet-riddled Garza, two weapons at his side.
The unassuming timber businessman was given a hero's burial last week in his native Monterrey, Mexico.
There is still hope for Mexico as long as there are still people like Senor Garza who are willing to stand up for what is right despite the dangers to the evil cancer that has infected that nation.
I want to point out that my last post in no way disparages Mexican citizens in any way. Many, like this brave rancher, do not like what is going on in their country any more than many of us Americans like what is going on in ours. It just seems like the level of corruption and graft in their country has spiraled out of control in their government. Much like here, I almost feel that there is a sub-culture of "elitist leaders" that has come to be that attempt to run their country on their own beliefs and valued regardless of what their populace, or reality, dictates.
I have a lot of respect for the Mexican and latino peoples that live South of my country and appreciate the cultural, historical and financial contributions that they have made to my homeland. Especially being from a military background I have known many fine Hispanic people that I have been happy to call both a fellow soldier and friend.
I wish nothing but the best for the people of Mexico. Until they can fix the injustice and crime in their own country they will continue to flood our border...why wouldn't they? If your family was suffering and a better life could be had somewhere else wouldn't you despite the risks? Our founding fathers themselves were descended from people who fled Europe seeking a better life and freedom from oppression.
So in short, I meant no offense by my last post to any of my readers that may have been offended...its just like I say in the right hand column, this blog may contain some uncomfortable reality once in a while...this is once in a while...