Border Patrol questioned whether Arizona rancher was ‘crazy’ when calling about alleged drug traffickers
NOGALES, Ariz. - Border Patrol is heard questioning two sheriff’s office dispatchers whether Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly is "crazy" before responding to calls about alleged armed drug traffickers on his property.
Fox News Digital recently obtained several recordings of calls between Border Patrol and Kelly with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office from Jan. 30.
That evening, the body of a man identified as 48-year-old Mexican national Gabriel Cuen Buitimea was found on Kelly’s ranch outside Nogales, Arizona. Kelly was subsequently arrested for first-degree murder, but that charge has since been downgraded to second-degree murder. The Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office, in releasing the calls ranging about 30 seconds to 8 minutes in length, stressed Kelly never dialed 911. The recordings are relays and contact initiated by dispatch.
In one call, someone from the Nogales Border Patrol Station tells dispatch, "My agents made contact with the caller’s spouse, who stated that there were five on the property, and the caller is currently trying to pursue them and is chasing them south. The five had a large backpack and possibly a rifle."
The dispatcher asks who had the rifle. "There were five on the guy’s property, but with the guy chasing after them," the Border Patrol agent says. "It sounds to me like the caller – the person that initially called us – has a rifle and somebody in that group of five has a rifle."
Someone from the Border Patrol station later calls back.
"I’m sorry, man. I hate to do this to you. I don’t know for sure this guy’s getting shot at or not," the agent tells dispatch. "What sometimes happens is some of our customers go through his property, and then, I don’t know if he’s crazy or what’s going on."
The dispatcher asks, "So we don’t know if it’s an active shooting?"
The agent replies, "No. He called a couple minutes ago to our ranch liaison, not into here directly. And said that he was shooting at five who were shooting back at him."
"His last statement was he thinks that they were shooting at him and thought he heard gunshots," the agent adds. "But then he saw people running. But he didn’t see any firearms. But he’s checking his ranch with his weapons. He’s checking his livestock."
"But he didn’t shoot back, correct?" the dispatcher asks.
The agent replies, "No, at least he’s not saying that he did."
"This same guy, he’s made this call before," the agent. "And it ended up just being aliens on his property, and he says the same thing … Obviously we have to take it seriously."
The agent supplied the address for Vermillion Ranch, located at 100 East Sagebrush.
The calls provide more context as defense and prosecution remain sharply divided over what allegedly happened that fateful day on the cattle ranch where 73-year-old Kelly and his wife have lived for decades.
The state maintains Kelly shot an "unarmed" man in the back "in an unprovoked attack as he ran for his life" more than 100 yards from Kelly's residence. Kelly is charged with two additional counts of aggravated assault in connection to alleged surviving witnesses who've come forward from Cuen Buitimea’s party.
But the defense contends Kelly only fired "warning shots" into the air earlier that day after spotting a group of armed men moving through trees by his home on the ranch. A filing claims one of the armed men "pointed an AK-47 right at" Kelly, who called a Border Patrol ranch liaison multiple times.
The rancher claims he found the body later that evening when out with dogs to check on livestock. Kelly’s attorney has suggested in court that cartels could be buying testimony against the rancher.
In another recording, the Nogales Border Patrol Station admits to relaying "third-hand" information.
MORE: Border Patrol agent claims Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly being 'intentionally vague' in 911 calls: report
"Hi, we just received a citizen’s call. I’m calling from the Nogales Border Patrol Station," the agent tells dispatch. "And it’s the rancher located in the last house on South Sagebrush. He claims that there’s people shooting at him, and he’s shooting back. We’re advising our agents who are making their way into that area now."
"You know what, disregard," the caller adds after several seconds. "That person’s not sure if he’s being shot at. I don’t know if this guy’s crazy or what’s going on… This is like third-hand info. He called our ranch liaison who called operations center, and I’m calling you, so I don’t have all of it."
The dispatcher asks, "So we don’t know if it’s an active shooting?"
The agent replies, "doesn’t sound like it anymore."
Another caller, who says he’s from "Martinez Chapels," a funeral home in Nogales, lets a dispatcher know he was about 40 minutes away from the death call out on Kelly’s ranch.
In another recording, a caller, who identifies himself as a supervisor at the Nogales Border Patrol Station, says he wanted to follow up with the sheriff’s office about Kelly.
"Yes, sir. I have my deputies on scene still. We did locate a dead body," the dispatcher reports.
The supervisor asks, "A human?" "Yeah, a human," dispatch says. "We also called out our CID team. So they should be responding shortly."
Another call confirmed a sheriff’s sergeant and a deputy were on scene with Kelly at some point.
Just one of the released recordings captured Kelly explaining firsthand what happened that day.
George Alan Kelly
In the call, a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher dials out to Kelly. "I’m just calling because we received a report from Border Patrol. So I was just calling to get more information. So, what happened?"
"You’re going to have to send an officer out here," Kelly says.
The dispatcher asks, "OK, what’s going on?"
"It’s very serious, ma’am. And I can’t … I’m not going to talk over the telephone," Kelly says.
Asking for more context, the dispatcher says, "Go ahead. You can talk to me. What’s going on?"
In response, Kelly says, "Yeah, I know I can talk to you, but you’re responsible for what I say, and I’m responsible for what I say."
"You told them you shot at something. What did you shoot at?" the dispatcher asks.
"I haven’t said I shot at anything," Kelly replies.
The dispatcher says, "OK, that’s what Border Patrol told us, so I’m just asking you."
"The Nogales sheriff’s department had four of five guys out here this afternoon investigating a Border Patrol drug running incident," Kelly tells the dispatcher, saying he doesn’t remember their names.
"But they know what happened. I don’t want to get you in trouble, and I don’t want to get me in trouble," Kelly says. "But I don’t want to break the law or anything like that. So what I’m telling you is we need a sheriff's deputy out here – 100 Willow Cross Circle – immediately. And that’s all I can say, ma’am."
"OK is anyone hurt?" the dispatcher asks. "I need to know because if someone’s hurt, I need to send an ambulance too." The rancher begins, but then stops, so the dispatcher asks if he would be more comfortable speaking with a deputy.
"You know the thing, ‘you have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law’? I’m not admitting to anything I’ve done but all those things tend to add up, and I don’t know what happened," Kelly says. "I just know what I just saw about 15 minutes ago. And it’s something that an ambulance cannot help. EMTs cannot help. There’s nothing out here that can be aided by EMT or emergency services."
The dispatcher asks, "And you are sure an EMT cannot help?"
"I am positive. I have a medical background. An EMT cannot help," Kelly says. The dispatcher asks, "Do you know whoever it is who you saw?" Kelly says, "No, I didn’t say it was anybody. I just said it’s a body."
"I’m not trying to be smart, ma’am," the rancher adds.
"I know you’re trying to be careful, and I get that. But I hope you understand that on my end, I have to take care of my deputies, too," the dispatcher says. "So, I’m going to need a bit more context as to why you needed a deputy to head out there."
Kelly says, "Now you know that there is a body here… And it’s not alive. So, you asked if I need EMT. I said no, but I’m sure a coroner will be involved sooner or later."
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