The Frontera Fund has been fighting for the rights of Hispanic community members since the legal case providing founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin with $3.7 million in compensation for illegal imprisonment came to an end in 2012. In the view of the two journalists and media executives, the Hispanic community was victimized by the law enforcement agency of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a long-term approach which resulted in the entire community being seen as a problem along the U.S.-Mexican border.
The creation of The Frontera Fund by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin came after the two journalists found themselves two of the victims of the illegal actions of Sheriff Arpaio when they found themselves at odds with his policies and oath of silence. Village Voice Media executives, Larkin and Lacey played an important role in the development of an investigation into the financial irregularities at Maricopa County’s Sheriff’s Department over the course of the tenure of Sheriff Arpaio to 2007; as a result of the publication of the findings of their investigation through the Phoenix New Times Sheriff Arpaio and his allies in Arizona began to place their gaze squarely on the two journalists.
The first step taken by Sheriff Arpaio was to illegally acquire a Grand Jury subpoena asking for the personal information of the staff and readership of the Phoenix New Times including an unheard of request for the IP addresses of Online readers. Understanding the request was illegal, Larkin and Lacey not only refused but made it their business to publish a followup story revealing the nature of the request and the response of Village Voice Media made from Maricopa County.
A surprising response would follow from Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County taking the form of a group of unmarked SUVs arriving at the home of each journalist to arrest them and illegally detain them; neither Michael Lacey or Jim Larkin were given an explanation of the events taking place on the evening of October 18, 2017, in action deliberately designed to intimidate them.
Released after less than 24 hours after fellow media outlets reported the story, Jim Larkin, and Michael Lacey were eventually provided with a $3.7 million compensation fund they decided to put to good use in aiding the Hispanic community of Arizona which had often been the victim of the actions of Sheriff Arpaio.