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Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu is advising citizens thinking of going hiking in Pinal County to "be armed, and do not be a victim" of drug cartel hitmen.

According to the sheriff's office, Mexican cartels are sending assassins, or "sicarios," across the border to kill rival-cartel "rip crews" who ambush their drug runners and make off with money and supply.

The office said there have been multiple gun battles in areas south of the county between cartel assassins. Deputies have also seen a rise in armed encounters with cartel drug runners.

Babeu encourages those using back roads, campsites and trails in known smuggling corridors of western Pinal County to be very cautious and consider carrying a firearm when in these wilderness areas.

He included a dig at President Obama while addressing the press.

"It’s a distressing reality that President Obama is unwilling to protect the public from armed incursions across the border and well into Arizona. We have been fighting the Sinaloa Cartel violence in Arizona for years.

We’ve arrested 21 of their scouts and many more smugglers last year, we are seizing thousands of pounds of their drugs and yet Obama’s response is to erect signs that warn American citizens that it’s not safe to travel.

I’m telling our citizens that want to enjoy the outdoors to travel armed and not let these drug cartels think they have any control over American soil."

Babeu said tonight on Hannity that with those signs, the president has literally surrendered those areas to the cartels instead of joining the fight with him and Border Patrol agents on the ground in bringing a heavy hand of enforcement against cartels.


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