NBC Highlights Plight of Farmers Threatened by Illegal Immigrants

Friday's NBC Nightly News gave attention to the dangers posed to farmers who live near the border with Mexico as correspondent Mark Potter filed a report on the activities of drug traffickers who illegally cross the border and trespass on the land of American farmers and ranchers and threaten violence.

Anchor Brian Williams introduced what he referred to as a "frightening" report:

We're back now with a frightening look at the dangers facing American farmers and ranchers living under the constant threat of violence, in constant fear all because of where they happen to live and work along our nation's Southern border with Mexico. NBC's Mark Potter reports tonight in his award-winning series of reports "The War Next Door."

After noting the smuggling activities of drug traffickers, Potter informed viewers that farmers say "they and their workers are being confronted, even threatened by armed Mexican traffickers."

A soundbite of an anonymous farmer recounted that federal agents had advised him to purchase a bullet-proof vest.

The NBC correspondent concluded his piece: "The Obama administration and some local officials dispute the war zone claim, but with Mexican traffickers not letting up, U.S. land owners are asking for more federal protection at the front door to their own country."

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Friday, November 25, NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We're back now with a frightening look at the dangers facing American farmers and ranchers living under the constant threat of violence, in constant fear all because of where they happen to live and work along our nation's Southern border with Mexico. NBC's Mark Potter reports tonight in his award-winning series of reports, "The War Next Door."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: A large narcotics load right there under the helicopter.

MARK POTTER: South of the Texas border on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, surveillance video of what police say are smugglers loading illicit drugs bound for the United States. Day and night, the drugs are floated across the river in rafts and are then often carried across private property in the U.S. where increasingly American farmers and ranchers along the border say they and their workers are being confronted, even threatened by armed Mexican traffickers.

RETIRED GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC NEWS ANALYST: It clearly has intimidated U.S. citizens who, in many cases, just don't believe they're safe on their own land in their own country.

POTTER: Fearing retribution from Mexican smugglers, this farmer would only speak on camera with his face and voice disguised. He says he was told by a federal agent to protect himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE FARMER: One of them recommended that I look into buying a bullet-proof vest.

POTTER: While you're farming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE FARMER: While I'm farming.

POTTER: The problem for farmers and ranchers isn't just confined to those right on the border. Also affected are land owners miles inland where smuggling is still a huge problem. Veterinarian Mike Vickers leads a group of Texas land owners who work closely with law enforcement. They worry about Mexican drug and immigrant smugglers threatening their homes and trampling their land.

MIKE VICKERS, TEXAS RESIDENT: This branch was cut, no question. It was cut and pulled up.

POTTER: With hidden cameras they've documented waves of smugglers crossing private property.

VICKERS: He's carrying at least 40 pounds of drugs in that backpack. We suspect cocaine.

POTTER: Vickers says many ranchers have moved their families off their land for safety while others have armed themselves.

VICKERS: This is happening on American soil. This is a war zone here. There's no question about it.

POTTER: The Obama administration and some local officials dispute the war zone claim, but with Mexican traffickers not letting up, U.S. land owners are asking for more federal protection at the front door to their own country. Mark Potter, NBC News along the Rio Grande.

WILLIAMS: By the way, you can see much more of Mark Potter's Emmy Award-winning reporting on "The War Next Door." It's all on our Web site, nbcnightlynews.com.