Phoenix’s image as a mecca for golfers, conventioneers, and snowbirds is being clouded by dark tales of brutal Mexican drug cartels snatching rival smugglers from homes and holding them for ransom, says the Arizona Republic. The result is anxious travelers faced with frightening headlines, and worried politicians and tourism officials trying to cope with what they call exaggerated tales of violence. “I’m concerned about the city’s image,” Mayor Phil Gordon said. “When I travel to places like Washington or Chicago, people ask me what’s going on here. Some people have the impression that we’re some kind of cowboy city instead of the fifth-largest city in America.”
Although the 725 kidnappings-for-ransom in Phoenix during the past two years have been mostly bad guys abducting other bad guys from drophouses full of smuggled immigrants and drugs, congressional leaders are publicly warning that that could change. “Innocent victims are at risk of being caught in the crossfire,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), during a recent meeting of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He is chairman of the committee, whose hearing last week in Phoenix on border violence helped shine a national spotlight on the problem.