Lawmen Under Siege Along Mexico Border
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Alien and drug smugglers along the U.S.-Mexico border have spawned a rise in violence against federal, state and local law-enforcement authorities, who say they are outmanned and outgunned.
“They’ve got weapons, high-tech radios, computers, cell phones, Global Positioning Systems, spotters and can react faster than we are able to,” said Shawn P. Moran, a 10-year U.S. Border Patrol veteran who serves as vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 1613 in San Diego.
“And they have no hesitancy to attack the agents on the line, with anything from assault rifles and improvised Molotov cocktails to rocks, concrete slabs and bottles,” he said. “There are so many agent ‘rockings’ that few are even reported anymore. If we wrote them all up, that’s all we would be doing.”
Assaults against Border Patrol agents have more than doubled over the past two years, many by Mexico-based alien and drug gangs more inclined than ever to use violence as a means of ensuring success in the smuggling of people and contraband.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigative arm of Homeland Security, stated in a report earlier this year that border gangs were becoming increasingly ruthless — targeting rivals, along with federal, state and local police. ICE described violence on the border as rising dramatically over the past three years in what it called “an unprecedented surge.”
Several noted that one six-mile section of border near San Diego, regarded as one of the most dangerous alien- and drug-smuggling corridors in the country, previously was assigned as many as 50 agents, but has been expanded to 13 miles and has one agent posted for each mile.
“That kind of situation is becoming increasingly common,” Mr. Moran said. “The status quo is unacceptable. Agents are being assaulted four to five times per shift. Ironically, the region has often been touted as the cornerstone of Operation Gatekeeper. Well, the cornerstone is crumbling and if changes don’t happen soon, we will lose an agent.”
Mr. Moran noted that many agents are being assigned to “non-border activities,” including jobs at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington. He said the agency’s headquarters soon may be the largest regional office in the entire Border Patrol, “assigned the task of telling the public what a good job we’re doing.”
Several agents noted that many of the alien- and drug-smuggling gangs targeting law-enforcement authorities are doing so with sophisticated weaponry. They noted that in February, an ICE-led task force seized two completed improvised explosive devices, materials for making 33 more devices, 300 primers, 1,280 rounds of ammunition, five grenades, nine pipes with end caps, 26 grenade triggers, 31 grenade spoons, 40 grenade pins, 19 black powder casings, a silencer and cash during raids in Laredo, Texas.
(Posted on November 15, 2007)