Mexican army soldiers invaded U.S. territory and held a member of the U.S. Border Patrol at gunpoint, according to a report from the union representing the guards.
“Unfortunately, this sort of behavior by Mexican military personnel has been going on for years,” a statement from Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council said.
“They are never held accountable, and the United States government will undoubtedly brush this off as another case of ‘Oh well, they didn’t know they were in the United States,’” the group said.
The organization reported the Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent was held Sunday at gunpoint near Ajo, Ariz.
“Mexican military personnel crossed over the border and pointed rifles at him,” the union said. “Backup units arrived from the Ajo Border Patrol station, and the Mexican military personnel eventually returned to Mexico.”
The report obtained by the Washington-based organization that investigates and prosecutes government corruption documented 29 confirmed incidents along the U.S.-Mexican border involving Mexican military and/or law enforcement personnel during that time.
“These documents not only show the dangerous and chaotic situation at the Mexican border, but also the complicity of some Mexican government agents in violating U.S. law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said at the time of the report.
“The U.S. government must begin to take these incidents more seriously, publicize them and take measures to bring the crisis at our border under control,” he said.
Referring to Sunday’s encounter, the Border Patrol union said it was “fortunate that this incident didn’t end in a very ugly gunfight.”
The situation isn’t altogether new, the union said.
“A few years ago the Mexican military went a step further and put a .50 calibre rifle round through the rear window of a Border Patrol agent’s patrol vehicle south of Ajo. Nothing was ever done. 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 (although they were apparently on foot this time),” the union said.
According to a report in the Washington Times, it was unclear exactly what the Mexican soldiers were doing inside the U.S., but the report said law enforcement authorities long have said Mexican soldiers have been hired to protect drug and migrant smugglers.
The National Border Patrol Council represents nonsupervisory personnel among the federal agency’s estimated 16,000 agents.
Ricardo Alday of the Mexican Embassy in Washington told the Times his nation and the U.S. are pursuing “an all-out struggle to deter criminal organizations from operating on both sides of our common border.’
“Law enforcement operations have led, from time to time, to innocent incursions by both U.S. and Mexican law enforcement personnel and military units into the territory of both nations, and in particular along non-demarcated areas of our border,” he told the newspaper.
But local law enforcement authorities are worried. Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. of Zapata County, Texas, founded a coalition of sheriffs demanding the U.S. and Mexican governments investigate incursions.
He said the problem needs to be solved before “someone gets killed.”
On the Post’s forum page, a participant said, “I’m surprised the Bush administration doesn’t arrest and convict the border agents involved like they did agents [Ignacio] Ramos and [Jose] Compean. Don’t worry, soon we won’t have borders anyway. We’ll be the North American Union, and will be nothing more than a third world oligarchy just like good ‘ol Mexico.”
Added another, “My brother-in-law, a very wise man, suggested years ago that we build a half-mile wide trench the length of the Mexican border with guard towers every 100 yards, fill it with all the chemical and nuclear waste we have, and then shoot anything that glows in the dark. He was right.”
The Judicial Watch report for 2007 had cited earlier incidents such as one at the Fort Hancock Station in El Paso:
“[Troopers] attempted to apprehend three vehicles believed to be smuggling contraband on I-10 … As the vehicles approached the border, [troopers] stated that a Mexican Military Humvee armed with a .50 caliber weapon and several soldiers were seen assisting smugglers return to Mexico … Officers then noticed several armed subjects dressed in fatigue type clothing unload the contraband into the Humvee. These subjects set fire to the stalled vehicle before leaving the area.”
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