The character of the cartel war as seen in Pima County can be brutal. One “bandit” tactic is to organize small teams that camp out for days in the desert living on peanut butter and gallons of water. They set-up scouts on the hill tops to look out for law enforcement, as well as competitors. When a train of backpackers laden with dope are traversing the foot hills, an ambush team is quickly dispatched with sniper rifles. The packers are given a choice—give up their loads or their lives.

Sometimes, the cartels focus on hitting the “stash” houses where drugs are transloaded for shipment further north. For a while, the cartels pretend to impersonate the police doing a drug raid—but that tactic has waned as competitors caught on. Increasingly, stash houses are being “hardened” with weapons to withstand “enemy” assaults. Ever inventive, some drug smugglers are trying to by-pass the competition and the law by loading up ultra-light aircraft with hundreds-of-pounds of dope and flying their cargo in the dead of night across the border.