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Arpaio Calls Off Mexico Visit After Alleged Cartel Threats

Joe Arpaio
Sheriff Joe Arpaio for U.S. Senate
handout | agency
Joe Arpaio.

Former Maricopa County Sheriff and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio called off a planned visit to Mexico Wednesday, citing alleged threats from an unspecified drug cartel. However, Nogales, Sonora officials were in the dark about the visit.

Arpaio said he had planned to meet with local officials to discuss drug smuggling and immigration, but he declined to specify whom.

“For security reasons, I’m not giving the names, but let’s just say Mexican officials,” he told KJZZ’s Fronteras Desk.

A campaign release claimed that there was a $10,000 award offered to anyone who could locate Arpaio during his visit, allowing the unnamed criminal organization to capture him. The leader of Arpaio’s security team told the Fronteras Desk that the information came from tips. He also said he was told the visit would have been a “suicide mission.”

However, two high-ranking Nogales, Sonora officials — including the public safety commissar — had no knowledge of Arpaio’s planned visit. Mayor Temo Galindo also called the threats into question, saying Nogales is a generally calm place.

“Nobody from (Arpaio's) office has made contact with city government,” he said in written comments, adding that he had no knowledge of any foreign official ever being threatened when visiting the city.

Murphy Woodhouse was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.