Our friend and frequent contributor Heath Hansen, a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, recently sent us another article he penned while patrolling the border with the Arizona Border Recon. Enjoy!

— Steve Balestrieri, Senior Editor, SOFREP

Pop! Pop! Distant AK-47 fire pierces the night. I’ve been sitting in my spot on this mountain for a few hours when I hear the gunfire. Up until now, I had been plunged into the endless silence of a desert night in the Coronado National Forest. The sky above me bursts with more stars than you could ever see in the city. When you are this far away, nature is overpowering. Pop! I hear another gunshot, this time it’s closer. The scouts are communicating with their group, situated further south, that it’s time to move forward across the Mexican-American border. I watch through the green hue of my Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) unable to see the group but knowing they are there. Unfortunately for the drug mules attempting to move product into the U.S., they are unaware Arizona Border Recon (AZBR) is on patrol at this section of the border, upholding their motto and conquering “One Hill at a Time.”

Smugglers crossing the U.S. border carrying heavy rucks and weapons. (AZBR photo)

Recently, I trained with the AZBR in these mountains and was invited back for an operation. Once in Southern Arizona, I stopped at Tim Foley’s house to get updated grids and a plan for the week. While there, the leader of AZBR updated me on the situation at the border and the threats to expect while patrolling the treacherous terrain. I walked into his office, and he showed me recent footage he had caught while hiking in the area. “Here, on the mountaintop, you can see three scouts, holding AK-47s. They’re waiting for the group to move north.” I see armed men, wearing camouflage, casually perched on a ridgeline. “I thought guns were illegal in Mexico,” I said to Tim, smirking. We look at each other and laughed. “Yeah, me too,” he replies. Foley then tells me the base camp locations (our group is large so we will have two camps); we will be half a mile from the border. The next morning, we load the vehicles and head out.