ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Howard G. Buffett is Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States. A farmer, businessman, former elected official, photographer, law enforcement officer, and philanthropist, he has dedicated his life to finding solutions for some of the world's most serious and intractable problems, including hunger, conflict, wildlife trafficking, border security and public safety.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation invests primarily in global food security and conflict mitigation.

Mr. Buffett manages a 1,500-acre family farm in central Illinois and farms 400 acres in Nebraska. He oversees three foundation-operated research farms in Arizona, Illinois, and Nebraska totaling 9,500 acres and, for 10 years, was responsible for a 9,200 acre research farm in South Africa. Mr. Buffett oversees two ranches in Arizona, one ranch in New Mexico, and one farm in Texas, three of these being situated on the U.S./Mexico border.

Mr. Buffett was appointed Sheriff of Macon County, Illinois on September 15, 2017, confirmed by the Macon County Board on November 9, 2017 and served out his term until its expiration on November 30, 2018. He currently serves as Undersheriff of the Macon County Sheriff’s Office and Volunteer Deputy Commander of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona and was an Auxiliary Deputy for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Christian County Sheriff’s Office, both in Illinois, for a cumulative five years. In 2015, he was presented the National Sheriffs’ Association Medal of Merit for his support to the field of law enforcement & criminal justice, in 2016, named an honorary member of the National Sheriffs’ Association, and in 2017, received the High Sheriff Award, the highest award presented by the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association.

Mr. Buffett currently serves on the corporate board of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. He has served on the boards of Archer Daniels Midland, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., ConAgra Foods, Lindsay Corporation, Agro Tech Foods, and Sloan Implement. He has served in several senior corporate executive positions and has served in elected office in Nebraska.

Mr. Buffett is a former member of the Commission on Presidential Debates and has served as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Hunger on behalf of the World Food Programme. Mr. Buffett has received the Aztec Eagle Award from the President of Mexico, the highest honor bestowed on a foreign citizen by the Government of Mexico, the Fe en la Causa Medal from the government of Colombia, the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian by the Colombian Military, the Igihango National Order of Outstanding Friendship Medal from the government of Rwanda, one of the country’s highest honors, and the Order of San Carlos by Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the nation of Colombia, especially in the field of international relations.

He has also been honored over the years for his leadership and contributions to agriculture, conservation, philanthropy, and journalism; including being recognized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture as one of the most distinguished individuals in the field of agriculture as well as being awarded the World Ecology Award, the National Farmers Union Meritorious Service to Humanity Award, the Leader in Agriculture Award from Agriculture Future of America, the Special Service Award from the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development, the Norman E. Borlaug award from CIMMYT, the Leadership in Science Public Service Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists, and the Will Owen Jones Distinguished Journalist of the Year Award.

Mr. Buffett has traveled to 150 countries and authored eight books on conservation, wildlife, and the human condition, including the New York Times bestseller 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World and Our 50-State Border Crisis: How the Mexican Border Duels the Drug Epidemic Across America. Mr. Buffett is the executive producer of Virunga, an award-winning and Academy Award-nominated documentary about Africa's oldest national park.

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Book reviews

Howard G. Buffett is one of the most brilliant, outside-the-box thought leaders I’ve ever met... All writers have biases. Howard’s bias is for facts.

Howard paints a high-definition picture of the border that he has lived as a ranch owner, a law enforcement officer, a humanitarian, and as a photographer….. Our 50-State Border Crisis is a book for readers who are deeply concerned about the safety and security of the United States and want to understand how we can better achieve it. For best results, check your ideology and preconceptions at the door.

The Honorable Heidi Heitkamp, Senator for North Dakota.

One of the most important myths Howard explodes in this book is that you are either a humanitarian who cares about immigrants, or you are a hard-hearted border security advocate.

Howard forges another path: He is a big-hearted realist, and he is a nonpartisan security advocate who believes deeply in the rule of law…..He makes the argument that a strong, secure border both keeps us safe and erodes the ability of the drug cartels to exploit vulnerable people on both sides…. It’s tempting to turn away from difficult realities. Howard makes it his business to lean in, understand, and then act.

Cindy McCain. Chair, Human Trafficking Advisory Council, The McCain Institute for International Leadership.

In this well-written, in-depth analysis, Buffett links the U.S. drug epidemic to the use of the border by Mexican drug cartels.

Politicians may consider them separate issues, but Buffett's discussions with ranchers, migrants, Border Patrol and other law enforcement officials show readers that the two are inextricably entwined.

Shelf Awareness

Media

Captions by Howard G. Buffett.

In Illinois, I interviewed five occupants of a vehicle that had broken down. One man said he had entered the US illegally twice, which I explained was a felony.

Photo By: Chad Larner

When Oscar arrived at our foundation’s ranch (MOR), he was shaken and hungry.

Photo By: Adam Walter

I photographed this Border Patrol apprehension in a remote, hot, dry desert area of Arizona.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I rode along Arizona rancher Warner Glenn’s property with him to look at the border fencing.

Photo By: Eric Crowley

In my capacity as a volunteer deputy commander in the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona, I support a variety of law enforcement activities. In this photo, I am releasing a detainee who was questioned as part of a drug raid.

Photo By: Eric Crowley

In Texas, I rode on a Border Patrol boat on the Rio Grande, where securing the border is a very different challenge than in Arizona.

Photo By: Courtesy of Border Patrol

A Mexican cartel spotter just over the border observes our foundation’s southern Arizona ranch called CR, 24 hours a day. Here, he adjusts his scope so he can radio smugglers to help them avoid law enforcement.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

A “drug mule” hauls a double pack of marijuana likely weighing 60 pounds or more across CR.

Photo By: Trail Camera

Flowing water has carved deep crevices across MOR, and this drug smuggling group uses them to conceal their travel in daylight. The large bags and weight pulling on the straps indicate heavy loads.

Photo By: Trail Camera

About 1,200 feet north of the Mexican border, these smugglers struggle through rough terrain on CR. Note the carpet-covered shoes, which obscure footprints.

Photo By: Trail Camera

These smugglers already delivered their loads and now are climbing the border fence on CR to return to Mexico. Note the radio strapped to the one smuggler’s hand.

Photo By: Trail Camera

We think Oscar crossed the border along this stretch of MOR that has a barbed-wire fence and a low vehicle barrier separating the US and Mexico.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Oscar’s family is poor and lives in a rural village. The family cooks outside and they wash utensils and clothing in water from a gravity-fed pipe.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I traveled to Honduras to speak with Oscar’s family. Here, his brother holds one of the red shoes Oscar was wearing when Oscar and I met in Arizona.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Border Patrol’s special BORSTAR agents provide emergency assistance to an “undocumented alien,” or UDA, who was stranded in the Arizona desert and otherwise might have died.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Drug smugglers leave trail signs, like this shoe buried upside down, on CR.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I spoke with the young women in this group detained in Arizona, and they told me they barely escaped a sexual assault on their journey. Roughly 60% of migrant women say they are sexually assaulted traveling to the US.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Traffickers sometimes hang a woman’s underwear or clothing from a “rape tree” as a way of bragging about a sexual assault.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I was in a helicopter when we spotted these UDAs. They don’t appear to be smuggling drugs, but when we flew over them, they scattered and ran back to Mexico to avoid apprehension.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

These signs are common on public lands in the Southwest.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Smugglers easily hide in the terrain and vegetation of the southwest. Can you spot four members of our ranch crew wearing camouflage? I took this photograph, then I asked them to hold up red flags to identify their positions...

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

It’s very difficult to see the men even when you know exactly where to look.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

This new section of tall fencing near Naco, AZ, will be difficult to climb and will be fitted with gates to allow flood waters to flow through the fence.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Along the border today it’s not unusual to see an abrupt change in structures. Here an imposing, tall fence changes to a low vehicle barrier that someone on foot could easily cross.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

At an Arizona Border Patrol field office an agent monitors cameras positioned along the border to look for security breaches.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

In Yuma, AZ, a fence can only go so far when the border is an international waterway.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Border Patrol agents are trying to figure out who thecoyoteor human trafficker is among this group of UDAs. Thecoyotesoften try to pass themselves off as migrants.

Photo By: Howard. G Buffett

Arizona Border Patrol apprehended this UDA, but five others traveling with him got away.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

It takes enormous resources for Border Patrol to process individuals seeking safety, work, or a reunion with family—and that reduces agents’ ability to stop drug smugglers and violent criminals.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

In a Texas respite center for those who have been detained and temporarily released by Border Patrol, a little girl looks at the monitoring device federal agents placed on her mother’s ankle. We were told the devices sometimes frighten the children.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Some UDAs cross the border to work, to flee violence, or, like the 13-year-old boy in the purple hat, to reunite with family. In this Altar, Mexico, shelter, migrants wait for guides to take them to the border.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

At our farm in Texas along the Rio Grande, life vests and inflatable inner tubes lay in our shed. These were previously used by Mexico farm workers to “swim” to work.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

For decades the majority of US crop workers, like these individuals in California, have been immigrants. Many are undocumented, but they are critical to our nation’s food production.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Soldiers like this one guarding a Salvadoran prison must conceal their identities to prevent gang retribution.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

This inmate in El Salvador’s Apanteos Prison says he no longer wants to be in a gang, but like many others he is a “marked man” because of his tattoos.

Photo By: Howard. G Buffett

In Salvadoranbartolinas, or holding jails, prisoners are packed into a subhuman environment so overcrowded that some must spend many hours in hammocks.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Poverty is one driver of immigration to the US. These girls in Guatemala live in an area where most people are hungry every day.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Life in rural areas has always been difficult for people like this Honduran farmer, but in recent years gangs have moved out from cities and are terrorizing rural areas, too.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

These crosses on the wall of “La 72” respite center in Mexico near Guatemala commemorate 72 Central American migrants who were brutally murdered by a drug cartel in 2010.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Each year, thousands of Central Americans hop freight trains like this one traveling north through Mexico. Some jump off when the train slows because they are too exhausted to maintain their grip. Recently police have cracked down on these riders.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I took this shot while flying in a helicopter over train yards in southern Mexico. Unless we support investments in developing countries, many people, like this group of migrants with small children, believe even these incredibly risky journeys are safer than staying in their home countries.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I met this young man in Tapachula in Chiapas, Mexico, where he was being treated at a migrant center after he fell from a train and lost part of his leg. He told me he would continue trying to get to the US.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I watched this boy leap between cars on a moving train in a Mexican rail yard. Until we address the violence and poverty in their home countries that motivate so many to take incredible risks to reach the US, border security will be an ongoing challenge.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

In Illinois, I interviewed five occupants of a vehicle that had broken down. One man said he had entered the US illegally twice, which I explained was a felony.

Photo By: Chad Larner

When Oscar arrived at our foundation’s ranch (MOR), he was shaken and hungry.

Photo By: Adam Walter

I photographed this Border Patrol apprehension in a remote, hot, dry desert area of Arizona.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I rode along Arizona rancher Warner Glenn’s property with him to look at the border fencing.

Photo By: Eric Crowley

In my capacity as a volunteer deputy commander in the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona, I support a variety of law enforcement activities. In this photo, I am releasing a detainee who was questioned as part of a drug raid.

Photo By: Eric Crowley

In Texas, I rode on a Border Patrol boat on the Rio Grande, where securing the border is a very different challenge than in Arizona.

Photo By: Courtesy of Border Patrol

A Mexican cartel spotter just over the border observes our foundation’s southern Arizona ranch called CR, 24 hours a day. Here, he adjusts his scope so he can radio smugglers to help them avoid law enforcement.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

A “drug mule” hauls a double pack of marijuana likely weighing 60 pounds or more across CR.

Photo By: Trail Camera

Flowing water has carved deep crevices across MOR, and this drug smuggling group uses them to conceal their travel in daylight. The large bags and weight pulling on the straps indicate heavy loads.

Photo By: Trail Camera

About 1,200 feet north of the Mexican border, these smugglers struggle through rough terrain on CR. Note the carpet-covered shoes, which obscure footprints.

Photo By: Trail Camera

These smugglers already delivered their loads and now are climbing the border fence on CR to return to Mexico. Note the radio strapped to the one smuggler’s hand.

Photo By: Trail Camera

We think Oscar crossed the border along this stretch of MOR that has a barbed-wire fence and a low vehicle barrier separating the US and Mexico.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Oscar’s family is poor and lives in a rural village. The family cooks outside and they wash utensils and clothing in water from a gravity-fed pipe.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I traveled to Honduras to speak with Oscar’s family. Here, his brother holds one of the red shoes Oscar was wearing when Oscar and I met in Arizona.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Border Patrol’s special BORSTAR agents provide emergency assistance to an “undocumented alien,” or UDA, who was stranded in the Arizona desert and otherwise might have died.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Drug smugglers leave trail signs, like this shoe buried upside down, on CR.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I spoke with the young women in this group detained in Arizona, and they told me they barely escaped a sexual assault on their journey. Roughly 60% of migrant women say they are sexually assaulted traveling to the US.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Traffickers sometimes hang a woman’s underwear or clothing from a “rape tree” as a way of bragging about a sexual assault.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I was in a helicopter when we spotted these UDAs. They don’t appear to be smuggling drugs, but when we flew over them, they scattered and ran back to Mexico to avoid apprehension.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

These signs are common on public lands in the Southwest.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Smugglers easily hide in the terrain and vegetation of the southwest. Can you spot four members of our ranch crew wearing camouflage? I took this photograph, then I asked them to hold up red flags to identify their positions...

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

It’s very difficult to see the men even when you know exactly where to look.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

This new section of tall fencing near Naco, AZ, will be difficult to climb and will be fitted with gates to allow flood waters to flow through the fence.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Along the border today it’s not unusual to see an abrupt change in structures. Here an imposing, tall fence changes to a low vehicle barrier that someone on foot could easily cross.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

At an Arizona Border Patrol field office an agent monitors cameras positioned along the border to look for security breaches.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

In Yuma, AZ, a fence can only go so far when the border is an international waterway.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Border Patrol agents are trying to figure out who thecoyoteor human trafficker is among this group of UDAs. Thecoyotesoften try to pass themselves off as migrants.

Photo By: Howard. G Buffett

Arizona Border Patrol apprehended this UDA, but five others traveling with him got away.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

It takes enormous resources for Border Patrol to process individuals seeking safety, work, or a reunion with family—and that reduces agents’ ability to stop drug smugglers and violent criminals.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

In a Texas respite center for those who have been detained and temporarily released by Border Patrol, a little girl looks at the monitoring device federal agents placed on her mother’s ankle. We were told the devices sometimes frighten the children.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Some UDAs cross the border to work, to flee violence, or, like the 13-year-old boy in the purple hat, to reunite with family. In this Altar, Mexico, shelter, migrants wait for guides to take them to the border.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

At our farm in Texas along the Rio Grande, life vests and inflatable inner tubes lay in our shed. These were previously used by Mexico farm workers to “swim” to work.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

For decades the majority of US crop workers, like these individuals in California, have been immigrants. Many are undocumented, but they are critical to our nation’s food production.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Soldiers like this one guarding a Salvadoran prison must conceal their identities to prevent gang retribution.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

This inmate in El Salvador’s Apanteos Prison says he no longer wants to be in a gang, but like many others he is a “marked man” because of his tattoos.

Photo By: Howard. G Buffett

In Salvadoranbartolinas, or holding jails, prisoners are packed into a subhuman environment so overcrowded that some must spend many hours in hammocks.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Poverty is one driver of immigration to the US. These girls in Guatemala live in an area where most people are hungry every day.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Life in rural areas has always been difficult for people like this Honduran farmer, but in recent years gangs have moved out from cities and are terrorizing rural areas, too.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

These crosses on the wall of “La 72” respite center in Mexico near Guatemala commemorate 72 Central American migrants who were brutally murdered by a drug cartel in 2010.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Each year, thousands of Central Americans hop freight trains like this one traveling north through Mexico. Some jump off when the train slows because they are too exhausted to maintain their grip. Recently police have cracked down on these riders.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I took this shot while flying in a helicopter over train yards in southern Mexico. Unless we support investments in developing countries, many people, like this group of migrants with small children, believe even these incredibly risky journeys are safer than staying in their home countries.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I met this young man in Tapachula in Chiapas, Mexico, where he was being treated at a migrant center after he fell from a train and lost part of his leg. He told me he would continue trying to get to the US.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

I watched this boy leap between cars on a moving train in a Mexican rail yard. Until we address the violence and poverty in their home countries that motivate so many to take incredible risks to reach the US, border security will be an ongoing challenge.

Photo By: Howard G. Buffett

Border Security Index

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