No. 496.
Señor de Zamacona to Mr. Blaine.


Mr. Secretary: Referring to the communications of this legation of August 28, and December 27, 1880, and in order that the Department of State may be informed with regard to some facts of great importance to the security of the border districts of Sonora and Arizona, I inclose an extract from the reports recently received in relation to the matter by this legation.

In a dispatch recently addressed to the undersigned by the department of foreign relations of Mexico, the undersigned is instructed to call the attention of the Department of State to the importance of adopting, as speedily as possible, measures for the repression of robbery in the region in question, inasmuch as such repression will doubtless have a beneficial influence upon trade between the two republics as well as upon the relations between the inhabitants of the frontier districts.

In obeying these instructions I have the honor, &c.,

[Inclosure.—Extract from report made to Mexican legation.]

The Arizona newspapers, in various articles published on the 20th, 22d, and 24th of February last, call the attention of the United States Government to the frequency with which depredations are being repeated in the State of Sonora, by bands of outlaws organized on the soil of the United States. The governor of Arizona Territory has sent a petition to Congress, asking that measures may be taken for the preservation of peace and order on the frontier, and suggesting that a force of 100 men be raised at once, to be stationed there.

The Arizona Daily Star of February 24 says that not a day passes without the commission of some new depredations; that on that very day (the 24th) news had been received of the theft of 85 head of cattle from the lands belonging to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé Railroad, which was supposed to have been committed by one “Billy the Kid,” a prisoner who had broken jail in New Mexico.

These bands of desperadoes steal cattle from the American side of the boundary line, and sell them in Sonora and Chihuahua; they then steal other animals in those States, which they sell in Arizona and New Mexico.

Mr. D. J. M. Elias, a resident of San Pedro, in the State of Sonora, has preferred a complaint through the consul of Mexico at Tueson, and this complaint has been published in the Fronterizo. It refers to the thefts and outrages of which Mexicans residing in Sonora are victims, and the writer begs that his complaint may be transmitted to the legation of Mexico at Washington, to the end that the United States Government may be asked to remedy the evils which he describes.

The Daily Arizona Journal published an article on the 31st ultimo in relation to the depredations in Sonora, which contains the following passage:

The thieves and desperadoes who rendevous on the American side of the line have become unendurable. They are described as being worse than the Apaches in the heyday of their career. The citizens appeal to Americans who are coming in this way to [Page 827] properly represent the matter to their government and intercede in their behalf. * * * Is it possible that within the boundaries of the best organized government on the planet, a few outlaws, the whole number probably not exceeding 100, can band together, defy the civil authorities, and, while taking advantage of the security our soil affords, reach out and paralyze the industries of a neighboring State I Are there no means in the hands of our authorities by which these outrages can be checked? Cannot the marshal summon a posse and throttle these ruffians?

It is hinted that there is no provision for the payment of the officers for such work, but can there be a doubt that Congress would promptly meet such a contingency with a special appropriation?

The good name of the country is at stake—a paramount consideration; but far more even than this hangs upon the proper settlement of this question. Sonora is rapidly filling up with Americans. The advantages to be derived from commercial and social intercourse between the two countries have been acknowledged and elaborated by our most prominent citizens and statesmen.

Our territory has an immediate personal interest in the question. We want their trade and they want our goods. The chances are all in our favor, with proper treatment; but because of the wholesale spoliation that has been perpetrated by these border ruffians, the people of that portion of Sonora are growing suspicious.