When Lewis Arthur and his team of amateur investigators entered Agua Blanca Ranch last month, they inevitably found what they were looking for —evidence that, to them, showed the place was used for child sex trafficking.

Video-recording as they went, they entered the unoccupied house through an unlocked door. They pointed to a cooling tower used in the ranch’s innovative construction and decided it was a guard tower. They pointed to a room painted brightly for children as evidence children had been held captive there. They called a room with maps on the walls a command center for traffickers.

And ever since that day, Arthur, whose full name is Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer, has included that ranch in his growing list of the accused — people or entities he says are engaged in child-sex-trafficking, in pedophilia or in covering it up. He’s accused the nearby Cocoraque Ranch and Buckelew Farms in the rural desert west of Tucson. He’s accused the corporations Cemex, Asarco and Pioneer Landscaping.

“Want to stop child trafficking in Southern Arizona?” he wrote on the Veterans on Patrol Alpha Co. Facebook page. “Place these three entities under 24/7 surveillance.”

He’s also accused Tucson public officials of masterminding and protecting the ring — especially Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Sheriff Mark Napier, and Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus.

This sort of intimidation has been a hallmark of Lewis Arthur’s behavior in Tucson, especially in the seven weeks or so since he purported to discover evidence of child sex trafficking at a homeless camp on Tucson’s southwest side. But it also happened at other times since 2015 when he started a homeless camp next to Santa Rita Park, intended for veterans, that he calls Bravo Base — Camp Conklin.

None of his behavior would matter much, except that Arthur has more than 76,000 followers on Facebook, many of whom believe that he has discovered a child-sex-trafficking network connected to the Clintons, George Soros, globalists and Luciferians — yes, Luciferians — centered on Tucson. The online followers keep him in business by sending gift cards and, in some cases, accompanying him in his activities.

David Cathcart, caretaker of the Agua Blanca Ranch, was at first disposed to let Arthur and his crew go without pressing charges after the June 9 incursion, but their behavior led him to call the Sheriff’s Department after all.

“What jumped out at me was their ignorance of what things really were. The cooling towers that they were calling watchtowers. Maps being on the wall, which they called a command center. Children’s rooms — that it was something we had created to hold children in. It just seemed ridiculous,” Cathcart said. “They’ve got a hell of a lot better imagination than I do.”

The intimidation took a more sinister turn last week when an ally of Arthur published personal information about members of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, including Napier and his family. Arthur’s Veterans on Patrol Facebook page also posted the information. The computer-generated voice narrating the video justified the action this way: “Anonymous is working with the Veterans on Patrol and as such anyone who threatens or impedes their progress in any way will be automatically in the focus of Anonymous.”

It wasn’t the worst “doxxing” attack, as such actions are called, in that it posted mostly information that is publicly available, but it nonetheless bothered Napier.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I realize my information is out there. But when they post the address of my children, that’s out of bounds, and I find that to be reprehensible,” he said. “Maybe he (Lewis Arthur) won’t do anything about it, but now it’s out in the public domain where other people with mental health issues or other problems can easily access it.”

Assault conviction

It’s all part of a pattern of intimidation and vigilantism.

On Tuesday, I attended Arthur’s trial in Tucson City Court on a charge of misdemeanor assault. Arthur didn’t show up. A couple of days before, he had returned to the site where he started the whole child-sex-trafficking hysteria, a Cemex-owned property near Interstate 19 and West Valencia Road. He’s spent more than a week in an open-air tower there, broadcasting his accusations to an enthusiastic audience via Facebook Live.

Arthur had told me after a court hearing in June that the assault charge was the result of him defending a “veteran” from an aggressive drug dealer, whom Arthur had pepper-sprayed. That’s not what it sounded like in court. Victim Derrick Mayes was called to the stand in handcuffs and leg irons because he is in jail on another charge. He explained what happened at Santa Rita Park this way:

“On April 3, I was in a public restroom at the Santa Rita Park using the restroom. I was done using the restroom and I opened the stall door. There was a gentleman there recording me. I asked him, ‘What the (expletive) are you doing?’”

“He said, ‘I’m recording you due to the fact of people using drugs in this bathroom,’ “ Mayes testified. “I said, ‘I’m not using drugs.’ He looks at a guy from VOP (Veterans on Patrol), his name is Lewis. He says, ‘I got it.’”

Mayes testified that he then approached the man and demanded that he delete the video. Two of Arthur’s other colleagues then approached Mayes, who took a fighting stance. Then Arthur pepper-sprayed him, Mayes testified.

“I instantly went to the ground, and when I went to the ground, he sprayed me again. I asked him to stop, and he said (expletive) you (expletive). He sprayed the whole bottle on me.”

Tucson police Officer Mark Guzman testified that Arthur had called police after the incident and said he sprayed Mayes in self-defense. He also testified that Arthur recounted that, in an effort to keep drug users out of the park restroom, “He would pepper-spray the air vents to that restroom to force them to come out.”

City Court Magistrate Jeffrey Klotz found Arthur guilty of misdemeanor assault and issued an arrest warrant for him.

Vigilante efforts

Over the years, many volunteers and homeless people have credited the Veterans on Patrol camp, at East 20th Street and South Jacobus Avenue, with doing good work and helping people, some of them homeless veterans, out of homelessness. City Councilman Richard Fimbres, who represented the area, credited the group with “helping the fringe veteran population that doesn’t trust the government.”

But the good work has often come with intimidation and an us-against-them mentality.

Arthur’s allies took video when he met with Tucson police Lt. Brian Parker in June, and Parker made some pointed criticisms.

“I appreciate the fact that you want to provide a security service to a neighborhood,” he said. “But I also agree that you can’t be a vigilante. You can’t put your hands on people. I’ve told you many times that I don’t want you guys to be vigilantes.”

It raised alarms in nearby Armory Park neighborhood when the Veterans on Patrol group circulated a flyer this spring, one that has reappeared in recent weeks, saying that it planned to create neighborhood watch teams and also use a drone to monitor incidents in the neighborhood. Relations are testy enough that representatives of the neighborhood association where the camp is located are listed at the camp as banned from visiting.

Others on the list of banned people and organizations include representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency that could provide the camp’s veteran residents with needed help, and social-service agency Community Bridges Inc.

No eviction

The camp sits on land owned by a neighboring business, HMS Fasteners, the owner of which gave permission for Arthur to set up in 2015. This year, signs appeared that owner Ian Ornstein wanted them to leave, when the company said it would no longer pay for the camp’s water and electricity. Arthur responded by lashing out with intimidating language.

In a written statement, he said, “It is with both regret and relief that Veterans on Patrol, which is one of several Programs operated by the Walking for the Forgotten Ministry, has severed relationships with Ian Ornstein of HMS Fasteners due to his failure of honoring our original agreement and his attempts to both sabotage our Mission and extort our Ministry for money under the threats of eviction (not happening) and cutting off Camp Conklin’s utilities.”

Camp Conklin is one of the names given to the Bravo Base camp.

It goes on: “To be clear, we are not currently under a direct threat of eviction, nor could any eviction be achieved in the immediate future, if even possible. VOP (Veterans on Patrol) continues to fulfill its obligation and will keep doing so. The land donated to WFTF Ministry was given to the homeless Veterans in Tucson, AZ.... and we intend to defend it.”

Arthur has also said in recent videos that he intends to bequeath the camp to his wife and daughter if he is put in prison. Suffice it to say Arthur has no legal claim to the land, and even less right to pass it on.

One recent volunteer at the camp, Ernesto Rodriguez, had planned to stay there for a year, from July 4 this year to July 4, 2019. He lasted about a week. Rodriguez, an activist against veteran suicide, shared that passion with Arthur but quickly came to the conclusion the camp wasn’t lifting residents out of homelessness.

“They think this is normal,” he said. “They think flooded tents and hot days are normal. They’ve been enabled for so long that they wouldn’t know what to do if they got put in a place with A/C. A lot of these guys, when they get paid on the first (of each month), they will run to a motel and pay for a few nights just to get out of the elements. Why don’t we do that for them permanently?”

Rodriguez and other alumni and critics of the camp say they think a transitional camp for homeless veterans could work, but it must be completely disentangled from Arthur and must operate formally as a nonprofit. Arthur makes it a point of pride that Veterans on Patrol is not formally organized under the tax code and simply operates by volunteer help and through donations of gift cards and materials.

Wanted: standoff

After weeks of his spreading hysteria about child sex trafficking in the Tucson area, the authorities finally acted against Arthur on July 9. They arrested him for trespassing.

But he was immediately released and has accelerated his campaign of accusation and intimidation against anyone who crosses him or challenges his child-sex-trafficking conspiracy theory. When I posted a request on Facebook for stories from those accused by Arthur of trafficking or pedophilia, he quickly sicced his followers on me, calling me “One of Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s puppets” and telling them to “send everything to Lewis.”

On July 12, Arthur threatened to remove any desert water stations put up by Humane Borders that his crew might find while looking for evidence of sex trafficking. “YOU WILL NOT AID EVIL UNDER THE GUISE OF HUMANITY ANY LONGER IN OUR STATE,” he explained via Facebook, using capital letters.

Worse harassment was received by Rachel Krause and others who started a Facebook page, since closed, called Citizens Against Veterans on Patrol. Krause lives in the semi-rural area south of Marana where Arthur and others set up a camp to hunt for child sex traffickers. Her personal information was sent out by Arthur’s supporters July 13.

Krause’s dogs have escaped when someone let them out, she said, there have been strange people driving by her house and there was an unusually prolonged volley of gunfire in the nearby desert. It’s unclear if any of it is connected, but deputies have been to her house several times and cruise by regularly.

The worst happened when her daughter made a request last week, Krause said.

“Three nights ago, she asked if we could go to Chuck E. Cheese,” Krause told me Saturday.

She said not now. Krause doesn’t expect anyone to attack her, she said, but she worries about a confrontation.

“I don’t think any of them would be stupid enough to try to hurt me, but I don’t want anything to happen in front of my daughter.”

Despite all the chaos caused by Arthur and his followers, the authorities have been reticent to act against him or take a comprehensive approach to his misdeeds. That’s in part because people or businesses have been intimidated by him. Cemex has not requested that Arthur be removed from the property where he has been trespassing for the last week. HMS Fasteners did not even respond to my repeated efforts to ask why they are allowing the Bravo Base camp to remain on the company’s property.

Everybody, it seems, is either afraid of Arthur and his followers or worried that any attempt to arrest him will turn into a standoff with violent potential. It’s true that as long as Arthur is holed up in the tower, he’s in a cell of his own making. But he’s continuing to tell a global audience of thousands that specific local people, ranchers and companies are pedophiles or child sex traffickers, or are protecting them. And he whips up an online mob daily.

Ignoring Arthur, tolerating him and waiting him out lets him and his followers continue to hurt and intimidate innocent people who deserve protection.

Contact: tsteller@tucson.com or 807-7789.