GREEN MOUNTAIN BOXWOOD, South Mountain—A few years ago, a farmer from South Mountain, Nevada, called his wife to tell her that a truck had hit their barn.
He didn’t know the truck was a black cab and that the driver, who was a former federal agent, had died of an apparent heart attack.
The truck, according to the farm’s website, was built in 1993 to move grain.
A truck like that could make it through the mountain and, if a farmer is lucky, get through the mountainside undetected.
But for most farmers, the chances of being detected and rescued are slim.
“It’s a nightmare, but it’s a very small problem,” said Tom Smith, a former DEA agent who now teaches farming courses at Southern Nevada University.
Smith was one of the many farmers who were targeted by the government’s Operation Choke Point, a program that was designed to slow down the illegal migration of millions of acres of land in the United States.
In the early 1990s, Operation Chokespike targeted farmworkers in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Montana.
The farmers who got caught in the ChokePoint program were paid as little as $150, but many of them were able to collect millions of dollars, including a $1 million payout to a trucker who drove his rig through the Mojave Desert, according.
The DEA’s Operation CeaseFire has also targeted farmers, but only for the most egregious violations.
“They target farmers, not ranchers, and they’re really focused on farmers,” said Steve Miller, a University of Nevada-Reno agriculture professor who has researched Operation Ceasesfire.
“You’ve got to be willing to pay a lot of money, because if you don’t pay a ton of money they will take your farm away from you.”
For farmers like Smith, Operation CeasingFire has created an endless cycle of harassment.
“I had to tell people I had to go to the border to get a job, because they didn’t want to hire me,” Smith said.
“If I was going to go and work, I needed to get caught.”
Operation CeasFire is the most comprehensive crackdown on the illegal alien population in American history, but for Smith and other farmers like him, it’s just another job to worry about.
“When I was an agent, I would call farmers and ask if they were going to hire a farmer,” Smith told Newsweek.
“And they would say, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.
It would be a hassle.'”
He said he’s now convinced that he should go back to the land to be able to continue farming, but he still worries about being picked up and sent back to his ranch.
“These are people who are going to take advantage of us,” he said.
According to Smith, if he was a rancher, he wouldn’t have any incentive to work with the DEA.
“Ranchers are not going into the desert.
They’re not looking to make a buck,” he told Newsweek, “and they’re not being put in the position where they’re going to be forced to do a lot.”
In a survey conducted in March of this year by the Center for Immigration Studies, 70 percent of U.S. ranchers believe that the U.K. government would do a better job of controlling the migrant population in their country.
“We think it’s irresponsible to be working with the U,K.
to try to solve the problems they’re facing,” said Chris Fox, director of operations for the Center’s Immigrant Policy Program.
“A lot of them are trying to figure out a better way to work and live.”
It’s a sentiment shared by many of the farmers in South Mountain.
“There’s no other place I’d rather be,” said Robert Miller, who is from South Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Miller and his family have lived on the property for about a decade.
He said that when he was an illegal immigrant, he could have gotten a job as a security guard, but the U