Opinion Brief

Did Mexican drug lords really put a bounty on Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

Arizona's "toughest sheriff" says Mexican drug cartels are offering $1 million for his murder. Is this a PR-stunt or proof that his hard-line tactics work?

Arizona's notoriously tough and media-savvy Sheriff Joe Arpaio says Mexican drug cartels have put a $1 million bounty on his head, presumably for his trademark sweeps for illegal immigrants in Latino areas of Maricopa County. The threat was delivered via a slightly garbled text message, reportedly from a disposable cell phone in Mexico. Is this death threat against a U.S. law officer a dangerous escalation of Mexico's spreading drug war, or a publicity stunt? (Watch a local report about the alleged threat)

This smells like a stunt: "This is just the latest supposed threat against Arpaio," says James King in the Phoenix New Times, and like the others, it's mostly about Arpaio's need to be in the spotlight. It's not a coincidence that a week-old story about a barely credible death threat became "news" just as fellow hard-line Arizona sheriff Paul Babeu "hijacked" Arpaio's status as the media's "go-to guy" on Arizona and immigration."Threats against Joe Arpaio: Credible or latest act of media-whoredom?"

The threat is credible, to Arpaio and us: Arpaio's tough enforcement tactics are hurting profits for the Mexican drug and immigrant-smuggling cartels, says Investor's Business Daily in an editorial, and the "big money" bounty is proof of just how much. Instead of fretting about civil rights suits, the Obama administration to be taking notes about how to safeguard this country."An illegal bounty"

Death threat or no, why a bounty? The FBI says it's ready to help investigate the threat, if asked, says Julie Hunter-Bonner at Twilight Scoop. But the skeptics do have a point: if a deep-pocketed, powerful Mexican "drug cartel wanted the sheriff killed," wouldn't they "do it themselves rather than solicit the murder via a cell phone text tree"?"Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office says latest threat under investigation"

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