Nantz's Back Yard

John blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Wed Aug 24 10:48:27 MDT 2005

[Jim: Know anything about this story?]

DOUGLAS, ARIZONA: 'Illegals steal Arizona ranch'

From: Radwick555 at

----- Original Message -----
From: BB -- Florida

Two Illegal Immigrants Win Arizona Ranch in Court Fight

DOUGLAS, Ariz., Aug. 18 - Spent shells litter the ground at what 
is left of the firing range, and camouflage outfits still hang in 
a storeroom. Just a few months ago, this ranch was known as Camp 
Thunderbird, the headquarters of a paramilitary group that 
promised to use force to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking 
across the border with Mexico.

Now, in a turnabout, the 70-acre property about two miles from the 
border is being given to two immigrants whom the group caught 
trying to enter the United States illegally. The land transfer is 
being made to satisfy judgments in a lawsuit in which the 
immigrants had said that Casey Nethercott, the owner of the ranch 
and a former leader of the vigilante group Ranch Rescue, had 
harmed them.

"Certainly it's poetic justice that these undocumented workers own 
this land," said Morris S. Dees Jr., co-founder and chief trial 
counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., 
which represented the immigrants in their lawsuit. Mr. Dees said 
the loss of the ranch would "send a pretty important message to 
those who come to the border to use violence."
The surrender of the ranch comes as the governors of Arizona and 
New Mexico have declared a state of emergency because of the 
influx of illegal immigrants and related crime along the border.

Bill Dore, a Douglas resident briefly affiliated with Ranch Rescue 
who is still active in the border-patrolling Minuteman Project, 
called the land transfer "ridiculous."

"The illegals are coming over here," Mr. Dore said. "They are 
getting the American property. Hell, I'd come over, too. Get some 
American property, make some money from the gringos."

The immigrants getting the ranch, Edwin Alfredo Mancía Gonzáles 
and Fátima del Socorro Leiva Medina, could not be reached for 
comment. Kelley Bruner, a lawyer at the law center, said they did 
not want to speak to the news media but were happy with the 

Ms. Bruner said that Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva, who are from El 
Salvador but are not related, would not live at the ranch and 
would probably sell it. Mr. Nethercott bought the ranch in 2003 
for $120,000.
Mr. Mancía, who lives in Los Angeles, and Ms. Leiva, who lives in 
the Dallas area, have applied for visas that are available to 
immigrants who are the victims of certain crimes and who cooperate 
with the authorities, Ms. Bruner said. She said that until a 
decision was made on their applications, they could stay and work 
in the United States on a year-to-year basis.

Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva were caught on a ranch in Hebbronville, 
Tex., in March 2003 by Mr. Nethercott and other members of Ranch 
Rescue. The two immigrants later accused Mr. Nethercott of 
threatening them and of hitting Mr. Mancía with a pistol, charges 
that Mr. Nethercott denied. The immigrants also said the group 
gave them cookies, water and a blanket and let them go after an 
hour or so.
The Salvadorans testified against Mr. Nethercott when he was tried 
by Texas prosecutors. The jury deadlocked on a charge of 
pistol-whipping but convicted Mr. Nethercott, who had previously 
served time in California for assault, of gun possession, which is 
illegal for a felon. He is now serving a five-year sentence in a 
Texas prison.

Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva also filed a lawsuit against Mr. 
Nethercott; Jack Foote, the founder of Ranch Rescue; and the owner 
of the Hebbronville ranch, Joe Sutton. The immigrants said the 
ordeal, in which they feared that they would be killed by the men 
they thought were soldiers, had left them with post-traumatic 

Mr. Sutton settled for $100,000. Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Foote did 
not defend themselves, so the judge issued default judgments of 
$850,000 against Mr. Nethercott and $500,000 against Mr. Foote.
Mr. Dees said Mr. Foote appeared to have no substantial assets, 
but Mr. Nethercott had the ranch. Shortly after the judgment, Mr. 
Nethercott gave the land to his sister, Robin Albitz, of Prescott, 
Ariz. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the siblings, saying 
the transfer was fraudulent and was meant to avoid the judgment.

Ms. Albitz, a nursing assistant, signed over the land to the two 
immigrants last week.

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