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Dove hunters assaulted, robbed in Mexico

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Brian in Oregon, Nov 23, 2009.

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  1. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    When the hunters become the hunted<br>
    How nine Houston men were assaulted and robbed in the ranchlands of Mexico<br>
    By DUDLEY ALTHAUS<br>
    HOUSTON CHRONICLE<br>
    Nov. 23, 2009, 7:13AM<br>
    <br>
    MEXICO CITY — Like generations of Texans, nine Houston hunters traveled each autumn into northeastern Mexico's wildlife-rich ranchlands for a few uninterrupted days of shooting game, far removed from the workday world.<br>
    <br>
    But that ended abruptly last month after the men were rounded up, robbed and terrorized by well-armed marauders.<br>
    <br>
    The nine were wrapping up an afternoon of white-wing dove hunting about 100 miles south of the Rio Grande when a dozen men, armed with assault rifles, roared into the grain field in pickup trucks. The businessmen, some as old as 76, were forced to kneel on a gravel road or lie spread-eagle in the dirt for more than an hour.<br>
    <br>
    The gunmen drank from the Texans' booze supply, kicked several of their victims, and hit several with rifles and shovels, repeatedly threatening them and the Mexican men assisting the hunt. Before driving away, the brigands confiscated cash, shotguns, wedding rings, watches and cameras worth nearly $50,000, the hunters estimate.<br>
    <br>
    U.S. sportsmen have long enjoyed northern Mexico's hunting and fishing, spawning an industry that sustains dozens of lodges and feeds the incomes of thousands of ranchers and villagers.<br>
    <br>
    Tourism to Mexico has sharply declined amid the economic downturn as well as worries over the H1N1 flu epidemic and narcotics-related violence that has claimed some 14,000 lives in three years. Despite operating in what many consider to be gangster country, the hunting largely has been immune from trouble — until now.<br>
    <br>
    “They were like a bunch of cowboys, Wild West guys,” said Stephen Spencer, 72, a former Harris County constable and reserve sheriff who was in the Oct. 18 hunting party. “When a guy has a machine gun pointed at you, you do what they tell you to do.”<br>
    <br>
    Mexican and U.S. officials, as well as hunting promoters and lodge owners, say the assault near Villa de Méndez — a village about 110 miles south of the border at McAllen — is an isolated incident. But the case raises the specter of alarm for the more than 17,000 hunters, many if not most from Texas, who flock each autumn to areas under the sway of the Zeta gunmen of the Gulf Cartel, the organized crime syndicate based in Tamaulipas state.<br>
    <br>
    “I think they wanted us gringos gone and not coming down there,” said Mark Rand, 50, owner of a commercial printing company in Houston, who has hunted in northeastern Mexico for 21 years and says he lost $14,000 worth of equipment in the robbery. “I'm not going back.”<br>
    <br>
    A U.S. consulate spokesman in Monterrey acknowledged receipt of the hunters' complaint about the robbery but said he couldn't discuss details of the case. Neither the U.S. consulate nor the Tamaulipas state government have received any similar reports, the officials said.<br>
    <br>
    “People are negative on Mexico already, and people getting robbed is not going to help,” said Dean Putegnat, who owns Rancho Caracol, a hunting lodge near Lake Vicente Guerrero in Tamaulipas.<br>
    <br>
    A new problem<br>
    <br>
    Putegnat, whose family has hunted in Tamaulipas for decades and owns several lodges in the state, said drug-smuggling gangs have never shown any interest in hunters.<br>
    <br>
    Putegnat's lodge Web site argues that reports and fears of Mexico's violence are overblown. “This is the first time in my whole life something like this has happened.”<br>
    <br>
    On the other hand, with narcotics smuggling under pressure by the Mexican government's crackdown, cartel criminals and other gangs have diversified into kidnapping, extortion and other crimes in many communities.<br>
    <br>
    The Houston men were hunting out of Rancho Acazar, a not-for-profit lodge that until recently hosted nearly 2,000 sportsmen a year. Founded in the late 1950s by partners from Texas, the lodge has closed indefinitely.<br>
    <br>
    Business was off before the assault. Hunts were halved this year from the usual 18, and the number of hunters at each outing dropped by a third to fewer than 20.<br>
    <br>
    Still, relations with the locals remained good. Hunters routinely passed out candy to children in Méndez and offered seasonal jobs to locals at the lodge and in the field.<br>
    <br>
    “They usually don't mess with Americans,” said Jeff Van Wart, 49, a Houston investment banker whose 76-year-old father, Don, has been organizing hunts as one of nine partners in Rancho Acazar since the early 1960s. “That's what we were counting on.”<br>
    <br>
    But this fall, Van Wart said, gunmen had demanded $1,000 to allow Acazar's guests to hunt the season. The hunters began noticing pickup trucks with men parked at the entrances to Méndez, as if watching who came and went. In early October, an Acazar hunting party was forced to a stop outside the village by an unidentified man with an assault rifle. The man angrily told them not to throw candy to the children in the street because it was dangerous.<br>
    <br>
    The robbery took place a few weeks later.<br>
    <br>
    The attack<br>
    <br>
    That Sunday, the nine hunters had driven through Mexican army checkpoints on either end of Méndez about 4 p.m. on the way to the field. Split into two groups, they had been hunting about two hours and were getting ready to quit when the gunmen showed up near sunset. Some of the bandits wore what seemed like police uniforms, the hunters said, and carried military-style portable radios.<br>
    <br>
    They gathered the entire hunting party, 20 all together, in a field: “I thought they were police officers at first,” said Rand, who was forced face down into the bed of a pickup truck, atop three Mexican lodge employees with a gunman's foot on his neck.<br>
    <br>
    What sounded like a shovel chinked into the earth nearby. He was certain, Rand said, that graves were being dug. Men were smacked with rifles or shovels.<br>
    <br>
    “I already made up my mind that if they lined us up like a firing squad they were going to have to shoot me in the back, because I was running,” he said.<br>
    <br>
    The man apparently in charge of the gunmen — who spoke English — told Rand to “relax, calm down. The next time you hunt, don't hunt so close to town.”<br>
    <br>
    After it was over, they were “whooping and hollering like an old Western,” Rand said. “It was like The Magnificent Seven.”<br>
    <br>
    The hunters don't plan to return to Mexico any time soon, if ever.<br>
    <br>
    “Until these guys disappear permanently, it isn't safe,” said Don Van Wart, 76, who acts as Rancho Acazar's president. “There isn't anything to stop this from happening again.”<br>
    <br>
    dudley.althaus@chron.com
     
  2. fishguts

    fishguts Member

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    Why would anyone go to Mexico?...even the Mexicans won't go there.

    Wayne
     
  3. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Boy, I've been reading on some other gun discussion sites about this, and talk about an unsympathetic backlash against these hunters. Many chalked them up as Fudds who probably threw other gun owners under the bus to protect their shotguns. Some of these responses can't even be posted here, they're so harsh. There's a lot of anger bubbling over out there against those who are not 100% behind the Second Amendment.
     
  4. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    Wayne- Some go to Mexico for exceptionally good hunting. I am not personally interested in shooting 200+ doves a day and I am sure others might not enjoy shooting 200+ registered targets in a day. But, not everyone has to like the same thing.

    Pat Ireland
     
  5. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    If Mexico had a good reputation, little or no crime, a decent non-corrupt government and I wouldn't have to worry about being poisoned by the food or water, yeah, I wouldn't mind going there to dove hunt in quantities that would make the trip worthwhile. It's a lot closer and cheaper than Argentina. But given their problems and that my budget won't even allow a trip to the SW for javelina right now, it's a moot point. So I have to be content to hunt coyotes and mass quantities of ground squirrels here, as well as crows.
     
  6. cubancigar2000

    cubancigar2000 Well-Known Member

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    If you look hard enough there is some mighty fine hunting right here in the USA ( and especially in TX)
     
  7. Dahaub

    Dahaub Active Member

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    Those hunters were lucky all they lost was the guns jewelry, and cash. They could have easily been shot just for the hell of it. Those Mexican thugs are a dangerous group and are willing to do anything to impress the bosses of those gangs. It's too bad this has happened. The hunting in some of those areas is said to be unequaled and it's a shame to take that away from the hunters who are well heeled enough to afford the trip. Just very glad that none were killed and it's a shame those hunting clubs will bear the brunt of the outcome from this raid. Dan
     
  8. rustygun

    rustygun Member

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    Brian, just asking but what 2nd amendment rights apply in Mexico? How did they protect their shotguns, I thought they were stolen.
     
  9. no5shooter

    no5shooter Member

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    Anybody who can read should be aware there is a lot of trouble happening in northern Mexico, mostly inter-gang fights that spill over onto some of the civilian populace, plus feuds between the drug gangs and what few honest lawmen there are in the country. Mexico isn't a place on my need-to-visit-soon list. Used to be, but not now. Don't need to be in any crossfire.
     
  10. bigdogtx

    bigdogtx Well-Known Member

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    Dan,,,,the locals will also lose a lot of revenue as the word gets out....most of the meat on these shoots is also given to the local communities....
     
  11. napawino

    napawino TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    I am president of our local gun club. We were recently given a gift certificate for an Mexican dove hunt. We had a raffle and the member that won the hunt, gave it back to the club. We cannot give it away. No one wants to take a chance on Mexico.
    Fred Wiedemann
     
  12. 221

    221 Banned User Banned TS Supporters

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    It seems those that get into these situations are usually, "well-heeled"

    How many times does our state department have to tell these people, that travel to these areas in Mexico are a bad idea.

    What happened is wrong, but can you honestly say they were not warned.

    We actually have tourists going to Iraq, go figure. Then they cry like hell when they get into trouble.
     
  13. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    rustygun, quote: <i>"Brian, just asking but what 2nd amendment rights apply in Mexico? How did they protect their shotguns, I thought they were stolen."</i><br>
    <br>
    Huh?
     
  14. fishguts

    fishguts Member

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    Pat, I know why hunters go to Mexico, they can shoot all they want with no limit. I guess what I meant was why, in this day and age, with the continuous problems with Mexico and the people themselves, would anyone think it is a good idea to take a trip to Mexico, for any reason. Let alone people who are up in age, with guns, money and related paraphanalia, and go stand out in a desert. I wasn't even there, and I know the people that set the hunt up for them also set up the robbery.

    Wayne
     
  15. rustygun

    rustygun Member

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    Brian, I should have framed the question better.
    How do you know these guys are "fudds", How do you know they "threw other gun owners under the bus"? They were hunters that were assualted and robbed in Mexico. What has "being 100% behind the second amendment have to do with this situation. Their support of the 2nd or lack there of,would have no effect outside the U.S.
    I don't understand the the reason for backlash on the other sites.

    Steve
     
  16. W.P.T.

    W.P.T. TS Member

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    This would be a perfect reason to start treating the Mexicans who come to the States like the American's get treated who travel to Mexico ... I'd bet there was some profiling going on by them Bandits but if we do it some group of bleeding heart Libby's get their shorts in a knot and scream bloody murder ... WPT ... (YAC) ...
     
  17. 8 Straight

    8 Straight Active Member

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    Mexico is a crap hole, and is not fit to be called a modern country. I suppose somewhere in a remote corner, there is a person that is not corrupt, but I doubt it. As it is, the country of Mexico is a festering boil on the ass of the North American continent.
     
  18. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    Mexico is civilized relative to many central american countries. But still, I wouldn't go there for a vacation of any type. Plenty of good things to do in this country.

    'There's a lot of anger bubbling over out there against those who are not 100% behind the Second Amendment.' I think that was what Rusty's question was about Brian, I didn't really get the connection either. Care to expand on that?
     
  19. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    Wayne- And just how do you know that the individuals who hosted the hunters set up the robbery? Is traveling to Mexico more dangerous than traveling to Detroit, Las Vegas or St. Louis? How about Magazine street in New Orleans?

    Pat Ireland
     
  20. oletymer

    oletymer Member

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    If anyone tavels to unsafe areas of any country they are not very smart.
     
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