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U.S. Border Patrol agents find themselves on defense against an onslaught of illegal alien traffic in the Tucson area with assaults on officers up 50 percent over last year.

Agents in the Tucson sector are patrolling a total of 261 miles of border, but some are forced to do it from the confines of cages, according to a report on KVOA-TV in Tucson. The special vehicles are called “war wagons” – designed to protect against rocks and boulders thrown by smugglers of illegal aliens.

But the metal caging isn’t protecting the agents from a new problem.

“When our agents try to do a vehicle stop, the criminal element try to run over our agents to evade arrest,” says agent Jose Garza.

So far this fiscal year, the Tucson sector of the Border Patrol has reported 163 acts of assault against agents, compared to a total of 118 for the entire fiscal year of 2004.

National reports say vehicle rammings are up 188 percent, shootings are up 122 percent and cases of rock throwing are up 23 percent.

Garza says, “They’re getting frustrated because we’re out there. We’re encountering them more times.”

Agent Garza says he knows, with more manpower and resources, will come more encounters with criminal activity.

There are no reports at this time of deaths or serious injuries to agents. Garza says those on patrol are constantly being trained about the dangers along the international line.

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