SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Groups describing themselves as militias have set up a training area near San Antonio and said there already are four “operations on the ground” along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.
The militias have said they will carry firearms along the border and carry out “missions” to stop the increasing number of migrants fleeing violence in Central America from entering the country illegally.
The groups, which supported a standoff at Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch earlier this year, posted an update Tuesday on a website used to organize the effort that said there are currently three “troops on the ground” on the Arizona border, and “four credible operations on the ground” on the Texas border.
The Texas militia, known as “Operation Secure Our Border,” is being led by Chris Davis, a 37-year-old truck driver who was discharged from the Army in 2001 “under other than honorable conditions in lieu of trial by court martial,” according to a summary of Davis' military service obtained by the San Antonio Express-News.
The militia groups have set up a “command post” in Von Ormy, about 20 miles south of San Antonio, Davis told KRGV-TV, a Rio Grande Valley news station on Tuesday.
Davis, who provided an interview to the Express-News on Monday, did not return requests for comment.
“We have patriots all across this country who are willing to sacrifice their time, money, even quit their jobs to come down and fight for freedom, liberty and national sovereignty,” Davis told KRGV.
Von Ormy Mayor Art Martinez de Vara also did not immediately return a request for comment.
Davis deleted his Facebook and YouTube accounts, including a 21-minute video in which he describes plans for “securing the border:”
“How?” he asks on the video. “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, 'Get back across the border or you will be shot.'”
Barbie Rogers, founder of the Patriots Information Hotline, which offers 24-hour service and is helping the group organize, said, “The commander (Davis) has gone black because of security threats.”
Rogers, based in Arkansas, declined to detail the “threats” but said the militias have garnered “tons of interest” during the past three weeks. She said the hotline is averaging 97 calls per hour.
In a statement, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection opposed the militias, saying they “could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences.”
Army regulations state a soldier may be discharged in lieu of trial by court martial when the soldier uses force or violence to produce serious bodily injury or death, abuses a position of trust, is insubordinate, deliberately endangers the health of others or displays behavior that “constitutes a significant departure from the conduct expected of Soldiers of the Army.”
The details of Davis' discharge are protected from public view by the Privacy Act of 1974. Davis, originally from Florida, served in the Army from 1996-2001 as a mechanical systems operator-maintainer and was ranked as a private at the time of his discharge.
Last year, Davis was one of three men in the group Open Carry Texas that was cited by the San Antonio Police Department for disorderly conduct while openly carrying rifles outside a Starbucks.
The incident sparked an open carry rally at the Alamo that drew hundreds of armed protesters.