NPR Story
10:47 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Minutemen Co-Founder Charged With Child Molestation

One of the original creators of the Mexican border vigilante movement that set off so much debate a decade ago, was arrested on child molestation charges in Phoenix, Wednesday.

Police booked Chris Simcox, 52, into jail on two counts of child molestation, two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of attempted molestation of a child.

In 2002, Simcox issued a “call to arms” for citizens to guard the U.S.-Mexico border in Southern Arizona.

Using his newspaper, the Tombstone Tumbleweed, he generated controversy as he and a group of volunteers roamed the Cochise County desert armed with radios and handguns. He told a reporter in 2002 that he created the movement after spending time in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and seeing the large influx of people crossing the border illegally.

In 2004, Simcox launched the Minuteman Project with co-founder Jim Gilchrist. The group attracted volunteers from across the country to Arizona to patrol the border.

But by 2006, Gilchrist and Simcox split, with Simcox forming the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Later that same year, he began to face criticism from his own supporters who demanded to see where money donated to the vigilante group had been spent. After a brief attempt to run for U.S. Senator John McCain’s seat in 2009, Simcox largely disappeared from public life. But in 2010, his ex-wife alleged he tried to kill their family.

Simcox’s arrest follows a bloody dismantling of the border vigilante movement in Arizona. In 2009, former Minuteman volunteer Shawna Forde and two men murdered a father and young daughter in Arivaca, Arizona. The three pulled a home invasion claiming to be immigration agents. Convicted in 2011, Forde is currently on death row.

Phoenix police said Thursday that Simcox denies the charges levied against him.

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