According to current U.S. Department of Justice statistics, drug-related violence, including kidnappings, home invasion robberies, and increasingly gruesome murders, has skyrocketed in Mexico and along the American Southwest border, affecting such U.S. cities as San Diego, Laredo, El Paso, and, particularly Phoenix, which DOJ has characterized as the “kidnap-for-ransom capital of the United States.”
DOJ’s FY2011 Interagency Crime and Drug Enforcement Congressional Budget Submission cites more than 350 kidnappings-for-ransom in Phoenix in 2007 and again in 2008. DOJ’s FY 2010 Performance Budget Congressional Submission says, “Press reports from numerous media sources highlight an unprecedented wave of kidnappings by well-armed drug gangs in Phoenix, Arizona, which has stymied city leaders and law enforcement, while driving up the city’s crime rate dramatically. Despite arrests and the dismantlement of at least twenty kidnapping cells, the crime wave has turned Phoenix into the kidnap-for-ransom capital of the United States.”
According to the DOJ report, police say the home invasion crimes are linked to the local drug trade. The surrounding Valley of the Sun is a national distribution hub for the United States’ drug trade. To address the extraordinary spike in kidnapping-for-ransom, Phoenix police spun off a separate detective unit in September 2008 to handle only these smuggling-related kidnappings and home-invasion robberies.
In a firestorm of controversy earlier this year, The Phoenix New Times reported on March 17 that investigators found some of the kidnapping statistics mislabeled in an alleged effort to secure $2.45 million in federal funding. An ABC15 investigation of the inflated statistics led to a Department of Justice probe.
In a home invasion incident that occurred on March 2, 2011, then Police Chief/Public Safety Manager Jack Harris vigorously defended what the police are facing in terms of drug-related home invasion incidents.
The home invasion occurring on March 2, involved six armed men claiming to be police officers who burst into a home located in a subdivision of contemporary single houses in West Phoenix. The home was occupied by a man, woman, and six-year old child. The man was dragged outside, pistol whipped, and stabbed in the leg. The woman and little girl hid in a bedroom and called the police. They were not harmed. Cash, dark clothing, gloves and drugs packaged for sale were found in the surrounding area. Investigators have not said if this house and family were targeted or if the home invasion was a random incident. One of the suspects who was arrested told police they were looking for cash and jewelry.
The video below shows an interview with the victims, who several days later alleged that the police mishandled the incident.