The reason MCDC has a strict code of conduct, called the "SOP" is to insure that our volunteers follow the law. This also insures that our volunteers and the organization are not harmed financially by the outrageous behavior of those who are overly aggressive.
A review of a particular Texas criminal and related civil court case outlines the problems caused when citizens becomes involved in vigilante (illegal) activities. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Minuteman CDC is found on the official website. It is important for all of us to read it and then abide by it in order to prevent vigilante behavior. Otherwise, the violator will be terminated as a MCDC volunteer and the following tale could happen to you.
"Leiva (et aI) v. Ranch Rescue (et al)" was a civil court case here in Texas brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on behalf of two Salvadoran illegal immigrants on May 29, 2003. MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) assisted SPLC as co-counsel. The criminal (and civil) defendants were all members of Ranch Rescue, an organization set up to protect landowner rights. Ranch Rescue, led by its president, Jack Foote, allowed its members to openly carry firearms and wear military style clothing while on duty.
Two Salvadoran illegal aliens, named Fatima Del Socorro Leiva-Medina and Edwin Alfredo Mancia-Gonzales, were traveling together on foot after illegally entering Texas from Mexico when they trespassed on the ranch of Joe & Betty Sutton. The 5,000 acre exotic game ranch is just south of Hebbronville in Jim Hogg County (and approx. 40 miles east-southeast of Laredo, Texas). At the time, members of Ranch Rescue, at the landowner''''s request, had been set up on the Sutton ranch for about a month holding their "Operation Falcon". From the news accounts, it was a paramilitary operation to arrest illegal aliens.
Members of Ranch Rescue spotted the two aliens, surrounded them, and held them at gunpoint for a length of time. Reports also suggest that the two Salvadorans were eventually released on the road with water, cookies, and a blanket. Mr. Sutton was reportedly angry that the Border Patrol never showed up to arrest the two. The Salvadoran pair later gained passage to Laredo where the Mexican Consulate referred them to an American attorney, Ricardo de Anda. The De Anda Law Firm initiated the civil action in question. This is what the suit alleged to have happened:
"On or about March 18, 2003, plaintiffs Leiva and Mancia were chased, surrounded, assaulted, physically detained at gunpoint, terrorized, interrogated, and threatened with death by Joseph Sutton, Foote and other Ranch Rescue associates. While the plaintiffs were traveling on foot across defendants Joseph and Betty Suttons’ property, they were accosted by Ranch Rescue associates, who chased them into the brush. Defendant Joseph Sutton fired numerous gunshots, while angrily yelling out obscenities in Spanish at the plaintiffs and threatening to kill them (“te vamos a matar”). The Ranch Rescue associates continued to search for the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs were ultimately discovered by defendants Foote, Nethercott and Conner and other Ranch Rescue associates with the help of Nethercott’s trained Rottweiler attack dog.
Upon discovery, the plaintiffs were forcefully captured and restrained. Defendant Nethercott forced plaintiff Mancia to remain on the ground with his hands behind his head. He then ordered plaintiff Mancia to get up and struck him in the back of his head with a handgun. Defendant Nethercott also allowed his Rottweiler to attack plaintiff Mancia, ripping the hood of his sweatshirt from his head.
Plaintiff Leiva was found by another Ranch Rescue associate who initially held her to the ground. The plaintiffs were then grabbed under their arms and forcefully moved to a clearing where they were again ordered to kneel on the ground. They were physically searched, forced to remain in prone positions for a long period of time, interrogated at great length, and accused of being drug smugglers. At one point, a Ranch Rescue associate forcefully jerked the plaintiffs’ faces upward to facilitate the taking of their photos.
Each of these wrongful actions occurred while plaintiffs were being held at gunpoint. As a result, the plaintiffs were in fear for their lives. The plaintiffs were later forced into a van and driven to the front gate of the property where Joseph Sutton verbally abused them, insulted them, accused them of being drug smugglers, and threatened them with death in an attempt to terrorize them. He stuck his head into the van, pointed and shook his finger at them in a threatening manner, and told them that if they returned to his property his men were going to kill them. Sutton was yelling so furiously that saliva flew from his mouth and hit plaintiff Leiva in the face.
After approximately one and one-half hours of unlawful detention, the plaintiffs were finally released.
All of the assailants, with the exception of defendants Nethercott and Sutton, wore camouflaged uniforms. They communicated through two-way radios and were armed with high-powered assault rifles, handguns and knives. At least one Ranch Rescue associate, defendant Conner, aimed a high-powered assault rifle at the plaintiffs throughout the duration of their detention. And at least one other Ranch Rescue associate told the plaintiffs that they were soldiers on guard duty because of the war in Iraq. During the entire ordeal, the plaintiffs feared they would be severely injured or even killed. They were terrified and traumatized, and as a result of the defendants’ actions, they suffered physical injuries and severe emotional distress. Both plaintiffs have developed and are currently suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the trauma they experienced on the Sutton Ranch.
Defendants Nethercott and Conner were charged criminally with aggravated assault and unlawful restraint as a result of this attack. Nethercott was indicted on those charges along with the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon."
The aggravated assault and unlawful restraint criminal charges against Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Conner were later dropped because a French journalist, named Eric Boye, who was doing a story about the border problems told authorities that he was at the scene the entire time and never saw the two aliens beaten or threatened. However, Mr. Casey Nethercott was charged and convicted of being in possession of a firearm as he was a convicted felon in his home state of California. Mr. Nethercott served time in a Texas prison for this criminal conviction.
During this time, the aforementioned civil suit was making its way through the court. Mr. Sutton, the ranch owner, had legal representation early on (no doubt due to his property insurance) and settled out of court for $100,000. Unfortunately, the other defendants, who did not attend the civil trial, were found liable for damages in a default judgement.
Only Mr. Nethercott owned anything of value, a ranch in Arizona, right on the border with Mexico. So, in the summer of 2005, you may remember hearing about two illegal aliens being awarded a ranch in Arizona.
People were outraged at this outcome. But, it was all done legally, albeit with help from ethnocentric activist lawyers aiding illegal immigration.