ARIVACA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Drive down the main drag of Arivaca and you could be in any small town. It has a general store, a cantina and some other cool, old buildings.

But something else has popped up in this southern Arizona community, which is more unusual. Residents are posting signs with a blunt message. That is, militia members are not welcome.

"I want everybody to be aware that we do not want the militias," said Clara Godfrey, who put a large sign on the side of the road, adjacent to her property.

"These people are coming into our community. They're posting all kinds of falsehood," said Godfrey.

She's referring to videos that three of the groups have posted online. One video accuses a local humanitarian aid group of aiding and abetting child traffickers. Another video accuses a property owner of being a member of a Mexican drug cartel. Others simply portray the community in a negative and false light.

But some people who live here worry that these obscure postings will find an audience with deranged zealots, who may decide to take matters into their own hands. They worry about this, because it happened once before.

On May 30, 2009, two men and a woman with ties to the militia movement broke into an Arivaca home and murdered a nine-year-old girl and her father. According to the subsequent investigation, the intruders believed Raul Flores was a drug smuggler and that his home would have drugs and money on the premises. Flores' daughter, Brisenia, was a casualty of this ill-thought out scheme.

Shawna Forde and Jason Bush are now on death row, while Albert Gaxiola is serving a life sentence for the murders.

"A family was destroyed because of something they heard somewhere," said Godfrey. And Godfrey worries that history could repeat itself with the new attention militias are focusing on Arivaca.

Tim Foley moved to the area roughly a year ago. His group, Arizona Border Recon, was featured in a documentary and on many national print and broadcast news outlets.

Earlier this summer, a group called Veterans on Patrol came through town and made several videos, containing the allegations of child trafficking. That group gained notoriety earlier in the year by posting videos that alleged a drug cartel was using a Tucson-area mine as a hub for child sex trafficking. Tucson police investigated and found no evidence the allegations were true.

Also this summer, Bryan Melchior rolled into town with his military-inspired armored vehicle, complete with a mock-up of a gun turret on the roof.

"We are advocates of the Constitution and of freedom of the American way of life and we believe in border security," said Melchior. He denies that his group is a militia. He says he's filming a documentary that's meant to show viewers what life is like on the border.

But videos that he has posted online show him searching men who appear to be illegal border crossers on the side of a road.

Melchior says the community of Arivaca has not welcomed him with open arms.

"Arivaca is the most unwelcoming town I've ever been to in the United States of America. And I've been to almost every town of every state in this country," said Melchior.

Some community members who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates say they don't mind the militia-types coming to town, but they do not like the publicity they are bringing.

Arivaca is a picturesque community that is popular with wildlife watchers, motorcycle riders and retirees. Its close proximity to the Arizona-Mexico border gives it a southwestern flair, but has also brought on suspicions that some members of the community are involved in smuggling.

And as long as the militia-types keep coming through, the signs will remain.

"How can you want anybody like this in our community? We can't wish this away," said Godfrey.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
 
 


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