DOUGLAS, Ariz., Aug. 18 - Spent shells litter the ground at what is left of
the firing range, and camouflage outfits still hang in a storeroom. Just a few
months ago, this ranch was known as Camp Thunderbird, the headquarters of a paramilitary
group that promised to use force to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking across
the border with Mexico....
Now, in a turnabout, the 70-acre property about two miles from the border is
being given to two [illegal] immigrants whom the group caught trying to enter the United
"Certainly it's poetic justice that these undocumented workers own this land," said Morris S. Dees Jr., co-founder and chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which represented the immigrants in their lawsuit.
The land transfer is being made to satisfy judgments in a lawsuit in which
the [illegal] immigrants had said that Casey Nethercott, the owner of the ranch and a former
leader of the vigilante group Ranch Rescue, had harmed them....
Bill Dore, a Douglas resident briefly affiliated with Ranch Rescue who is still
active in the border-patrolling Minuteman Project, called the land transfer "ridiculous."
"The illegals are coming over here," Mr. Dore said. "They are
getting the American property. Hell, I'd come over, too. Get some American property,
make some money from the gringos."...
Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva were caught on a ranch in Hebbronville, Tex.,
in March 2003 by Mr. Nethercott and other members of Ranch Rescue. The two [illegal criminal] immigrants
later accused Mr. Nethercott of threatening them and of hitting Mr. Mancía
with a pistol, charges that Mr. Nethercott denied. The [illegal criminal] immigrants also said the
group gave them cookies, water and a blanket and let them go after an hour or
The Salvadorans testified against Mr. Nethercott when he was tried by Texas
prosecutors. The jury deadlocked on a charge of pistol-whipping but convicted
Mr. Nethercott, who had previously served time in California for assault, of gun
possession, which is illegal for a felon. He is now serving a five-year sentence
in a Texas prison.
Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nethercott;
Jack Foote, the founder of Ranch Rescue; and the owner of the Hebbronville ranch,
Mr. Sutton settled for $100,000. Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Foote did not defend
themselves, so the judge issued default judgments of $850,000 against Mr. Nethercott
and $500,000 against Mr. Foote....