Border patrol agent held at gunpoint

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cThe incident occurred in the same area where heavily armed Mexican soldiers riding in a Humvee shot at a Border Patrol agent in 2002. A .50-caliber bullet ripped through the agent’s rear window as he sped away.

Mexican officials denied at the time that the shooters were Mexican soldiers, saying they were criminals using military uniforms. It is a position they steadfastly have maintained.

But the agent who reported encountering the gunfire was certain he saw soldiers, said Mr. Tuffly. He said at the time that the agent was able to identify their attire “down to a T, and it matched exactly what they [Mexican soldiers] wear.”

That purported incursion began after a Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation police ranger reported being chased by men in a Humvee.

cA year ago, U.S. law enforcement authorities were confronted by gunfire from automatic weapons as they chased and caught a drug-smuggling suspect in Texas trying to flee back into Mexico, the Hudspeth County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office said.

No one was hurt in that incident, and the gunmen were not identified, although the area has been the scene of similar incidents over several months, including a confrontation in January 2007, when heavily armed men in Mexican military uniforms fired on Texas officers with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a camouflaged Humvee.

The men were identified at the time by Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West as “soldiers.”

In that incident, Hudspeth County deputies pursued three sport utility vehicles back to Mexico after spotting them driving north from the Rio Grande. The pursuit ended on the U.S. side of the border when the deputies encountered 10 heavily armed men in what they described as battle-dress uniforms.

At that time, deputies found 1,400 pounds of marijuana in one of the vehicles abandoned after it blew a tire early in the pursuit. Another made it into Mexico and a third got stuck in the Rio Grande and was burned by the “soldiers” after it was unloaded.

cIn November 2007, the Border Patrol chased a dump truck full of marijuana in the same area when it also got stuck in the river while trying to return to Mexico. While agents sought to unload 3 tons of marijuana, the driver - who had fled - returned with a heavily armed group of men wearing Mexican military uniforms and carrying military-style weapons.

The soldiers backed the agents away and bulldozed the truck back into Mexico.

“Nothing was ever done,” Local 2544 said. “Nobody was ever held accountable. Particularly galling is the fact that the Mexican military often pulls these stunts in Humvees donated to them by the American taxpayers. We note that Border Patrol agents have historically driven worn-out, junk vehicles.”

A coalition of Texas border sheriffs has demanded that the U.S. and Mexican governments investigate incursions into the United States by heavily armed drug escorts dressed in Mexican military uniforms “before someone gets killed.”

Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. of Zapata County, Texas, who founded the coalition, said a growing number of suspected incursions and violence aimed at the area’s law enforcement officers is making the border “a pretty dangerous place.”

Sheriff Gonzalez said three of his deputies in 2006 spotted 25 men dressed in military uniforms in the U.S. during a late-night patrol. He said the men marched two abreast and carried duffel bags and automatic weapons, and that his “outmanned and outgunned deputies” were forced to retreat.

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