Arizona: Was Rancher Krentz Killed by an American, and Will Controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio Run for Governor?

The Arizona Daily Star  is reporting that the murder of southern Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, which helped spark the recent fervor over illegal immigration into Arizona, may have been committed by an American, not by an illegal immigrant as widely suspected.

The paper did not cite its source, and says it does not usually use unnamed sources “except in instances in which the information is of high public interest.”

A law-enforcement source reached by NEWSWEEK also said that an American was a person of interest.  Krentz was found gunned down on his ranch on March 27. A day earlier his brother had reported drug-smuggling activity in the region, and, according to the Star, the Border Patrol consequently seized almost 300 pounds of marijuana and arrested eight people on Krentz’s ranch. It was widely reported that the night of the killing, officers followed footsteps away from the crime to the U.S.-Mexico border. That sparked widespread outrage that Krentz was killed by an illegal immigrant or a drug smuggler from Mexico.

In the ensuing weeks, the killing became symbolic of Arizona's porous and violent border, setting off a flurry of demands from residents, politicians, and law-enforcement leaders for more troops and resources to the border. The murder also fueled support for Arizona's recent immigration law.

Meanwhile, in other Arizona news, controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been a local leader in efforts to crack down on undocumented workers, is expected to announce soon whether he plans to run for governor of Arizona. If so, he would need to immediately retire from his post (he is currently being investigated for misuse of power in his crackdown against undocumented workers). But Arpaio seems to enjoy the limelight, positive or negative. During a visit to Phoenix last year, Arpaio told NEWSWEEK, “Why doesn’t Congress keep their mouths shut and stay where they are and stop worrying about the sheriff in Arizona.” If he runs, it may get a lot harder for Washington to stop worrying about him.

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