Arizona’s state budget includes millions for a Border Drug Strike Force. Gov. Doug Ducey hails it as a cooperative effort between state and county agencies.There are four counties along the border: Cochise, Santa Cruz, Pima and Yuma.
“We’ve also reached out to our county sheriffs to partner and bring law enforcement assets together to focus on the bad guys,” Ducey said.
Three of the state’s four border sheriffs, however, said they were misled.
"We’re not in the strike force," said Chris Nanos, sheriff of Pima County. "If there was something different about this task force than what we already do, then we might see a value to it."
The four border sheriffs say the governor’s office promised money and resources if they supported a new drug strike force.
Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot pulled out of the initiative.
“I do not support this Border Strike Force as it has been put together," Wilmot said. "As the sheriff of Yuma County, I do not believe it is a proper use of state taxpayer money.”
The state legislature appropriated $26 million for the strike force, but no more than $1.2 million is designated for the counties. The State Department of Public Safety gets the bulk of it.
"We’re out. We’re definitely out," said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada. "We already have a task force here in Santa Cruz County and I can’t afford it.”
Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County said he's taking a wait and see approach before he decides whether his county is in or out.