Drug smuggling violence concerning law enforcement of a potentially growing trend

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. -- Two rounds of robberies and assaults of drug smugglers in Pinal County this week are concerning local law enforcement even more about border security.

In one case, a group of illegal immigrants who were smuggling marijuana were surrounded by a "drug rip-off crew." Each of the smugglers was robbed, and one was even shot. He is, however, expected to be okay.

In the second incident, a smuggler was severely beaten up and robbed.

Both attacks happened in the desert of Pinal County. They were close enough to residential areas, though, that law enforcement is concerned drug-related violence involving smugglers is seeping too far into Arizona.

"It underscores the fact that the border is not more secure than ever," said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. "The propensity for danger is very high. One of the incidents happened at 7 at night.  It could have been you, or somebody else, who's out there hiking."

Some experts believe the solution lies somewhere between increased enforcement action, increased resources, and political diplomacy.