(CNN) -- In the first public incident of its kind, cartels are making direct death threats to U.S. law enforcement officials in Nogales, Arizona, the police chief there told CNN Monday. Speculation about death threats by cartels towards U.S. law enforcement has been widespread for some time, but this is the first time U.S. officials along the border confirmed a case. The threats began less than two weeks ago, after off-duty police officers from the Nogales police department seized several hundred pounds of marijuana from a drug smuggling operation they stumbled upon while horseback riding in the eastern fringes of Nogales, the chief said. The smugglers in the incident managed to flee into Mexico before they could be detained, Nogales Police Chief Jeffrey Kirkham told CNN. "We are taking the threats very seriously," Kirkham told CNN. "We have received information from informants who work in Mexico that the drug cartel running that operation was unhappy about our seizure. They told our informant that they understand uniformed police officers have a job to do, but anyone out of uniform who gets involved in their operation will be targeted." "America is based on freedom. We're not going to be intimidated by the threats, but we are taking them seriously. I've told my officers if they venture into that area off duty to be armed," Kirkham said. Police chief: Cartels threaten U.S. law enforcement in Arizona - CNN.com So now we can expect all of the southwest to look like and be like it is in TJ, Juarez, and all of the state of Sonora, Mexico and beyond.......it's just a matter of time. And the U.S. government will do what about it??? I suspect - NOTHING!! Good luck to you AZ, may GOD help you all.....may GOD help us ALL!!