Working to raise awareness of cattle theft

and prevent losses for Wyoming ranchers.

Cow Thieves’ Paradise Part II

From the Western Ag Reporter, April 22, 2021:

Several major changes have been made in Arizona statutes and policy that actually promote livestock theft. The first and foremost is the non-range, self-inspection book. Non-range self-inspection enables anyone who has this type of permit to write their own transportation papers on cattle that can then be sold and even transported out of state without being looked at by any law enforcement official of any kind. In October of last year, I phoned the Department of Agriculture in Phoenix and requested an application to be approved to have one of these books. They said they would send me the application. I have five witnesses of this. I don’t want a non-range book, nor do I believe in the process. In my opinion, it is an open invitation for illegal activity. By asking for the application in front of witnesses, including two brand inspectors, I proved that anyone can acquire one. They are widely used.

Cattle held in feedlots are exempt from the same laws and statutes as range cattle and are not required to be inspected at the time of shipment by an Arizona brand inspector. A permit can be acquired from the state for a mere pittance that determines your corral to be a feedlot. The implications of this fact are obvious to any cowboy with a long rope and a barbed-wire corral.

Stolen cattle are being transported out of these feedlots, or sometimes using the non-range, self-inspection book, from ranches in 48,000-pound loads going into Texas, Oklahoma, and as far east as cattle auctions in Arkansas, as well as west into Nevada. Anyone who understands the economics of the cattle industry knows you don’t haul cattle from Arizona to Arkansas sale barns unless you are trying to leave a cold trail that is hard to follow. There are several known thieves who own large semi cattle trucks and other equipment and the expertise to take advantage of these nefarious policies that are endorsed by the AZDA and the Arizona State Legislature. Virtually no one is ever stopped by any law enforcement agency in Arizona and asked to produce hauling papers.

On March 4, I phoned the Arizona Director of Agriculture, Mark Killian, and asked him if he was aware of any ongoing investigations into cattle theft in Arizona. He said, “I’m not aware of any investigations at this time.” I then asked him if he had any plans on investigating cattle theft in the future, and he replied, “I’m out of the business of chasing rumors.” That ended our conversation.

On March 5, I received a call from Lt. Manny Angulo who is the chief investigator for the Department of Agriculture. It was apparent to me that Lt. Angulo had been instructed by Secretary Killian to contact me. I asked Mr. Angulo if he was investigating any cattle theft cases at the present time. He asked me why I wanted this information. I told him that I was writing an article for a major livestock publication. He said he needed to ask Secretary Killian if he could talk to me further, and we ended our conversation there. I never received another call from either Secretary Killian or Lt. Angulo. Both of these calls are documented.

In the old days, any time a cattle rancher in Arizona was going to sell cattle, a brand inspector would come and look at the cattle and make sure by observation of their brands that, indeed, the cattle to be sold actually belonged to the rancher wanting to sell them. This was an accepted and welcomed practice by all parties. In the last three weeks, I have sold and shipped nine semi loads of yearlings. The brand inspector who showed up did not look at any of the cattle but, instead, just asked what we wanted him to write on the hauling papers, and after the papers were written, he left. Another local rancher told me that this inspector does not come to his ranch when he ships cattle but, instead, asks for the information over the phone and then writes the papers and mails them without any onsite observation. These are not isolated cases. Ranchers in other parts of the state are taking pictures of cattle at their ranches on their smartphones, and brand inspectors are writing papers based on these pictures and sending the ranchers papers without ever going to the site of shipment. These practices are endorsed by someone on a higher pay scale at the Phoenix office.

In his book, The Vision of the Anointed, America’s greatest intellectual Thomas Sowell describes how politicians and self-congratulating leaders promote their personal agendas to the point that, “evidence becomes irrelevant.” This is an accurate description of current events in Arizona. Evidence of theft, corruption, and maleficence is overwhelming, and yet people who walk the halls at the state capitol ignore the message and try to discredit the messenger.

The bottom line is justice is not being served. I’ve been in the cattle business for over 50 years and most of the cowmen I’ve known cared nothing about the antics of the Arizona mafia or the politics in Phoenix. They simply want to ranch and enjoy the art of surviving in a very volatile but, at times, rewarding business and lifestyle. But things have changed in the last several years. Under the present conditions the victim has become the perpetrator. Because of recent changes made by the powers that be in the state capitol, the Arizona Brand Department has become completely dysfunctional. This isn’t the brand inspector’s fault. The problems originate in Phoenix. The state of Arizona has become a literal cow thieves’ paradise, and these activities are now morphing into money laundering and trafficking of illegal drugs. This is widely known, but this type of activity in the cow business is ignored.

On March 5, I discussed these things with Chris Farrell who is affiliated with Judicial Watch in Washington D.C. Chris Farrell assured me that Judicial Watch has an ongoing investigation into the numerous cases of livestock theft, as well as corruption in the various state agencies in Arizona. Chris Farrell promised me their agents were going to continue working on these issues in Arizona until justice is served and victims’ rights are restored.