A southern Texas sheriff is warning the public unidentified armed men dressed in military fatigues have been spotted on numerous occasions in his county near the border with Mexico.

For the “country’s safety,” Sheriff Erasmo Alarcon Jr., of Jim Hogg County, published a letter in a local newspaper to alert citizens of reports he has received for some years from ranchers who have spotted the unknown troops, equipped with “professional backpacks” and walking together in a military cadence.

The latest sightings were just a few weeks ago, and the letter has prompted further reports since it was published last Thursday, Alarcon told WorldNetDaily.

The county’s deputy sheriff, Guadalupe Rodriguez, said he believes the armed men were foreign and were not drug smugglers.

“They are not your regular traffickers that you get,” he told WND. “But we don’t want to draw conclusions at this point and get everybody worked up.”

Alarcon said in his letter “these military-type individuals have been sighted in very remote locations of our county,” which “stretches 50 or 60 miles from end to end.”

“We have reported this information to higher-up law enforcement agencies, but no one really knows who these individuals are, not even the military,” he said in his letter, published by the Jim Hogg County Enterprise in Hebbronville, Texas.

Lee Bargerhuff, assistant chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Laredo, Texas, sector, said today he had not been aware of the sheriff’s warning prior to WorldNetDaily’s inquiry. He said he now plans to contact Alarcon.

“We’ve had this brought to our attention now in a big way, and all we can do is confirm our support to local law enforcement agencies, that we are there to assist them,” Bargarhuff said.

The U.S. Border Patrol’s spokesman in Washington, D.C., Mario Villarreal, told WND his office had not received any reports of this kind. He urged citizens who spot suspicious activity to call the Border Patrol’s hotline at 1-800-343-1994.

The sheriff said reports of sightings most often were received the next day, meaning there was little that could have been done.

On one occasion, a report was received within several hours of the sighting.

“That particular time, we formed an immediate multi-agency task force between the surrounding counties, but we were met with little success,” Alarcon said. “We even brought in air support.”

Mike Herrera, spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Laredo sector, said his colleagues do not recall assisting Alarcon but does not rule out that it happened.

Prompted by nation’s security crisis

The sheriff said he is publicizing the information “because we still don’t know who these individuals are.”

“Obviously, they are trespassing, and obviously, they are carrying something,” he said. “We hope it’s narcotics and not something much worse.”

Alarcon said he is bringing “this information to light because of the security crisis our nation faces.”

“If you see these individuals please call us immediately,” he said. “Remember the last plane that was taken down to prevent further terrorism was done by everyday Americans who loved their country enough to die protecting it.”

He advised “if you see these individuals do not talk to them, do not confront them, but simply call 911. We don’t know who these individuals are so there no telling what they are capable of. Thank you! God bless America!

Glenn Spencer, who heads an Arizona-based watchdog group, American Border Patrol, said the Texas sheriff’s report was the “first we’ve heard of anything like that.”

He said he obviously cannot be sure, but his gut feeling is it is not a clandestine foreign group.

“People marching in military style out in daylight are taking a real chance at being reported or arrested,” he said. “To behave that way out in the open doesn’t make any sense.”

An e-mail notice about the sheriff’s letter was distributed by Jack Foote, national spokesman for Ranch Rescue, a citizen’s group that helps private land owners in the border region protect their property. Foote was unavailable for comment and a contact with the group’s Texas affiliate did not respond.

Alarcon said he did not believe the unidentified men are connected to Ranch Rescue activities.

“We know most of the local ranchers, and they don’t have people like that,” he said, adding that “the sightings have been all over the county.”

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