Organizations that watch militia activity say the groups are again eyeing Arizona after several years of decreased activity.
Mark Potok from the Southern Poverty Law Center told CBS 5 Investigates his organization has seen a spike recently. The increase corresponds to news reports of the surge of Central Americans crossing into the United States illegally. Potok said that is not good news.
"When you have people running around the border attempting to carry out citizens arrests, armed to the teeth, nothing but trouble can result," Potok said.
He pointed to the murder conviction of Shawna Forde, the murders of a Gilbert family by JT Ready, and child molestation charges against Chris Simcox as examples. All three were members of the Minuteman Project, a militia group that gained national recognition beginning in 2005.
But one current militia member told CBS 5 Investigates his motivation, and the goal of other members like him, is to stop drug smuggling, not to target illegal immigrants.
"We're looking out for our community," said the man, whose identity CBS 5 News agreed to conceal in exchange for the interview. "If that 500 pounds of marijuana hits Interstate 8, where's the first place it's going to go? Could it go to your kids?" he asked.
The man said there are more than 12 members of his organization, and he conducts missions in the desert south of Phoenix.
"Usually, we try to position ourselves inside the drug corridors where they (drug smugglers) just run into us," he said. "As long as they're not belligerent with us, as long as they're not threatening us, we treat them as human beings."
The leader of a new Minuteman group recently called for thousands of volunteers to descend on the border next year in an effort to stem the tide of illegal immigrants, including children, from Central America.
But the member who spoke to us was not affiliated with that group. He said he's not sure a massive group of militia members is a good idea.
"I feel like it does open it up to too many people that we just don't know. Just because somebody has a similar ideology to you doesn't mean they're exactly the same, or they're good," he said.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Thursday, September 11 2014 5:21 AM EDT2014-09-11 09:21:40 GMT
(WMC) - A Mid-South woman with a mystery illness is desperate for help that can keep her alive. WMC Action News 5 shared the story of Shanyna Isom in a special report in 2012; she grows fingernails throughMore >
WMC Action News 5 shared the story of Shanyna Isom in a special report in 2012; she grows fingernails through the hair follicles in her skin. Two years later and the cost of a mystery illness continues to threaten her life.More >
Thursday, September 11 2014 4:01 PM EDT2014-09-11 20:01:52 GMT
A devastated father is mourning the loss of his son and had to take out a loan to pay for his unexpected funeral when a life insurance policy didn't come through.More >
A devastated father is mourning the loss of his son and had to take out a loan to pay for his unexpected funeral when a life insurance policy didn't come through. Darrell Fennell Sr. wanted to issue a warning to parents: check your insurance policies.More >