Here is an excerpt from Ari Cohn Ahwatukee's article in the East Valley Tribune:
"Armed conflict in Arizona between sheriff's deputies and heavily equipped drug cartel squads is inevitable, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Tuesday during a speech in Ahwatukee Foothills. 'We're expecting a conflict,' Babeu told the Ahwatukee Republican Women's organization... 'I absolutely believe you're going to see that happen in the next 30 to 60 days. It's not like I'm trying to start a war with the cartels. They're coming through like they own this place, and we're trying to stop them. I pray that every time, they surrender.' ... Babeu ripped into Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's contention that the border is as safe and secure as it has ever been... A significant percentage of illegal immigrants caught in Pinal County are from countries other than Mexico, he said, including "countries of interest" such as Yemen, Somalia and Syria... Drug seizures in Pinal County have more than doubled in the last two years, while the number of high-speed police pursuits rose from 142 in 2007 to 340 in 2010, he said." Link to Full Article
Analysis: No one can accuse Sheriff Babeu of being indirect. For those of you unfamiliar with some of the law enforcement personalities in Arizona, Sheriff Babeu and Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County are easily the most visible and most vocal. Arpaio is a highly controversial figure because he's staunchly against illegal immigration, and enforces immigration laws in his county with a vengeance. He also travels all over the country to give talks and make appearances, and his life has been threatened on more than one occasion because of his views. Babeu is like the second coming of Arpaio, whom he counts among his friends and allies, and is highly and publicly critical of the lack of US government response to what he perceives as a crisis situation in Arizona.
No matter how you feel about Babeu or his publicity tactics, I agree that Arizona is seeing an unprecedented influx of dangerous criminals and drug/human smuggling activity. This activity is starting to put the American public in danger in certain parts of the state, and several law enforcement agencies have acknowledged that their powerless to stop it due to lack of resources.
As for Babeu's "armed conflict" statement, it comes across as alarmist and showy, but that doesn't mean there's not an element of truth to it. Law enforcement officers in Texas and Arizona have gotten into shootouts and high-speed car chases with drug traffickers on quite a few occasions in the past, so Babeu's prediction doesn't come as a surprise. But his window of 30 to 60 days is meaningless because it's already happening closer to the border; I wouldn't be surprised if one of his deputies got into a shootout with traffickers next week.
While I'm not a fan of alarmist media reports or spinning up by public officials, I imagine this is his way of trying to get the federal government to wake up and take notice of the major problems affecting the southwest border states. It's hard to disagree with that.