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Property owners livid after feds seize their private land

Marcelino Benito

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Property owners livid after feds seize their private land

CREATED Aug. 27, 2013

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) -The feds' are exercising eminent domain along the Mexico border-- buying up property- but paying very little for it. Landowners in Santa Cruz county are livid.

"A man's home is his castle," said Tony Sedgwick, the co-owner and manager of Carmencita Ranch. "We've owned that since the 1950's."

But now Sedgwick is losing a chunk of it.

"They have taken the choicest part of my land," he said.

It's a valuable, not to mention scenic spot atop a high hill. And he's losing it because of a BP surveillance tower there. It keeps a close eye on activity along the fence. It's a mobile tower, but now that the Department of Homeland Security has taken the land, permanent towers may soon prop up. It's all part of an effort to tighten up security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"If your neighbor had lights shining on your property, you would call police," Sedgwick said. "Who do I call? They are the police."

One property owner 9OYS talked to says each acre of land can sell for $10,000. The U.S. government is offering this woman $3,000 for two acres. She says it doesn't take a genius to realize this isn't a good deal.

"It's a terrible deal," said Sedgwick.

Most property owners were hesitant to go on camera. They say they fear upsetting Border Patrol.

"What is not fair is that we don't have a voice in all this," said Sedgwick.

So Sedgwick is raising his voice. He says his land means the world to him. And at the end of the day, he says there's not much more he can lose.

"It's very difficult to go against the U.S. government," said Sedgwick.

And difficult really an understatement in this case. If Sedgwick wants to fight this it would cost him almost $60,000 in legal fees. And even after that spending all that money there's still no guarantee he would win.

9OYS reached out to the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection for comment and provided them a list of our questions. A department spokeswoman says they are looking into it, but did not give a timetable for when 9OYS might receive those answers.

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