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Border agents becoming targets of violence along Rio Grande [S. Texas]
The Brownsville Herald ^ | January 29, 2006 | SARA INÉS CALDERÓN

Posted on 01/29/2006 3:11:47 PM PST by SwinneySwitch

— Border Patrol agents have increasingly become targets of unknown snipers along the banks of the meandering Rio Grande.

Twenty-five assaults on agents were reported in the last four months, a new high for this region, and all signs point to increasing violence along this stretch of the border.

“I think we’re just getting collisions because we’re getting more agents,” said Charles Bowden, an author who has written extensively on border violence and the drug trade.

“Increased vigilance by the Border Patrol is kind of frustrating the traffickers,” Bowden said.

Sneak attacks on agents patrolling coveted drug routes could be the result of that frustration.

On Dec. 30, two Border Patrol boats were shot at from the Mexican side of the river. The vessels were hit, but no agents were injured. Five days later, shots rang out again about a mile and a half from the place of the December attack. Again, no agents were injured, but the vehicle was damaged.

The FBI is investigating the shootings and believes they are connected because the patterns are similar.

Such attacks on federal agents are unusual here, though becoming more frequent, law enforcement officials said. In fiscal year 2004, there were 22 assaults on Border Patrol agents. In 2005, the number more than doubled to 48. Four months into the current fiscal year, 25 assaults have been reported by federal agents — more than half of all of last year.

Brownsville, unlike other border cities, has been spared heavy violence and conflicts between armed agents and cross-border assailants. This border stretch is calm compared to reports of bloodshed in Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juárez.

Brownsville is removed from the Monterrey, Mexico-San Antonio thoroughfare, leaving the heaviest border traffic to the north. Violence may be trickling down from the Laredo area because of pressure there, FBI officials said. They warned that the calm may precede a violent storm.

More agents, more assaults

In December 2005, the Department of Homeland Security announced that 1,700 Border Patrol agents would be deployed along the Southwest border. About one-fourth of these, 452 were set to arrive in Texas, including 62 in the Rio Grande Valley by September.

As of March 2005, there were about 1,500 agents working in the nine stations covering 18,584 square miles of the Border Patrol’s Valley sector.

The Border Patrol classifies assaults on agents into five different categories: rock throwing, physical assaults, vehicular assaults, shootings and an “other” category.

Assaulting a federal agent with a deadly weapon could result in 20 years federal time, regardless of whether the agent is injured or killed in the attack, said FBI spokesman in McAllen Jorge Cisneros.

The motivation for assaults on agents can be varied, said Salvador Zamora, national spokesman for the Border Patrol.

“In a lot of these cases, they are acts directly against our agents. In other cases, they are acts to distract us from our enforcement duties,” he said.

Zamora used as an example recent assaults against agents near San Diego, Calif., in which rocks were placed in socks doused with gasoline and set on fire. Some were thrown into the brush to start fires, while others were thrown at agents, causing injury.

He said the potential for an increase in assaults is a consequence of an increase in the number of agents, which is part of the Border Patrol’s pursuit of enforcement along the whole of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

“It’s not just a sector operation anymore,” Zamora said. “Really, it is a 2,000-mile border enforcement approach.”

As a result, drug traffickers and smugglers are more desperate than ever, leaving the door open for more violence, he said. The Border Patrol, he added, “will not retreat.”

Narcos and polleros

Officials from Grupo Beta, Mexico’s version of the Border Patrol, suggested human smugglers are responsible for the two recent shootings on Border Patrol agents near Brownsville.

“It’s the polleros (smugglers),” said Raymundo Olivos Montes de Oca, the liaison for the general office of the PGR, or attorney general’s office, in Matamoros. “The people who are always on the edge of the river are the polleros.”

Pollero is the Spanish word for one who herds chickens. It is used to describe human smugglers on the border.

Human trafficking operations have become more violent, mirroring the atmosphere among drug traffickers, or narcos.

For narcos, “Business is easier if there’s no violence,” Bowden said. Violence only brings attention to the operation, he said, and what they want is to do their business clandestinely, without a spotlight.

Traffickers in the border’s most profitable criminal enterprises — human and drug smuggling — could be crossing paths and igniting a battle for precious cargo and routes into the United States.

“There’s always been a nexus between human smuggling and narcotic smuggling,” said Zamora of the Border Patrol.

Basically, if human smugglers want to move their cargo, they have to work with or get permission from the drug smugglers who control routes into this country. It’s an uneasy alliance working against a common enemy.

Agents are in danger, Bowden said, but perhaps not deadly danger; people in the drug world don’t miss.

“Nobody moving pollos (people) and moving drugs is looking for a Border Patrol to assault,” he said. “It is striking, the lack of casualties in the Border Patrol, because it is bad for business to kill one.”

T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union for agents representing 11,000 men and women nationwide, including 1,200 in the Valley, said the increase in assaults on agents was a troubling sign that Mexican drug cartels have taken over the human smuggling business.

Cartels used to smuggle people to “shield” their other dealings. The lucrative nature of smuggling people has changed that, Bonner said.

“That’s a lot of profit for those cartels, that’s what I believe is responsible for the increase in violence. They play by a different set of rules.”

Adding to the dangers of encountering human smugglers is the fact that enforcement pressure on both sides of the border has pushed criminal organizations to improvise, looking for new routes, outside of traditional corridors, such as Nuevo Laredo, said Ignacio Corona, a professor of Mexican and Latin American Cultures at Ohio State University.

Reports of Zeta, organized crime members, ex-Mexican military and narco training camps near Ciudad Victoria have been investigated by the FBI, said Cisneros. He said it was yet to be determined if the cartels were training in the area.

The signs of this shift in human smuggling are easy to see, Zamora said. The use of long arms — rifles, shotguns and carbines, as opposed to hand guns — by smugglers used to be an exclusive sign of drug smuggling, he said, but that is no longer the case.

“Now you have a situation when human smugglers are bearing long arms, so things have changed.”

A binational effort

Concern about the sudden increase in violence in the past few months here has prompted both Mexican and U.S. authorities to join forces to investigate, according to authorities on this side of the river.

“It’s an international issue because we believe the subjects here could be from Mexico,” said Cisneros with the FBI. The agency is coordinating with Mexican consuls, state and local officials in Matamoros, the Mexican military and the PGR legal attaché out of San Antonio.

Zamora said his agency has a “strong” Mexican liaison unit that coordinates with a slew of Mexican agencies, from the PGR to the Mexican CIA. There’s always room for improvement, he said.

While U.S. officials are touting international cooperation, PGR officials in Matamoros said they were unaware of the shootings until they read a local Mexican media report. “We don’t know the source of that report,” said Olivos of the PGR in Matamoros. He said that after learning of the Jan. 4 shooting, his office investigated a ranch en route to Playa Bagdad that was near the reported shooting site. No bullet casings or any other indication of a shooting were found, he said.

“It would be worth it to have contact with the authorities from the United States to continue the investigation,” Olivos said. “We have nothing else but the news report.”

Officials from Grupo Beta also denied reports of violence. No one is really sure what happened on Dec. 30 or Jan. 4, González said.

“As far as I see everything is fine,” said Martín González Rivera, the coordinator for Grupo Beta in Matamoros. “They didn’t even find the shells.”

sicalderon@brownsvilleherald.com

Posted on Jan 29, 06 | 12:00 am


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Mexico; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: aliens; amnesty; borderpatrol; borderwar; bp; immigrantlist; riogrande
Bring in the troops!
1 posted on 01/29/2006 3:11:49 PM PST by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch

As the OTM's from the rest of the wold observe from the hillsides to see what works, and what gets ignored......


2 posted on 01/29/2006 3:15:11 PM PST by xcamel (Exposing clandestine operations is treason. 13 knots make a noose.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Can you imagine the size of the knot in the mexies panties if we started plinking into Juarez from El Paso? Oh wait "They didn’t even find the shells." That's conclusive, Martín.
3 posted on 01/29/2006 3:30:06 PM PST by n230099
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To: SwinneySwitch; gubamyster; HiJinx
Ahh Swinney. How many inadequately armed and trained law enforcement personnel have to die before these acts of war are acknowledged for what they are? How tight is the grasp of Cheap Labor on our Representatives?

How many have to perish for the Administration's vision of a borderless North American Alliance? Park Ranger Chris Eggle's family has still not received dime one from Mexico's government nor anything but lip service out of D.C..

The border state's National Guard units must be freed up from overseas duties to provide sorely-needed backup for the beleaguered Border Patrol and local law enforcement. Only a fool or a criminal leaves their back door unguarded while obstinately focusing their attention elsewhere.
4 posted on 01/29/2006 3:31:29 PM PST by NewRomeTacitus
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To: SwinneySwitch

Make it mandatory that when fired upon, return fire is required.


5 posted on 01/29/2006 3:35:23 PM PST by MonroeDNA (Look for the union label--on the bat crashing through your windshield!)
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To: MonroeDNA
Sam Houston had the answer.

Just kick their asses.

6 posted on 01/29/2006 3:39:30 PM PST by oldtimer
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To: serendepitylives; SuzyQue; houeto; tropical; Ladycalif; Froufrou; stephenjohnbanker; BigTex5; ...

Border Ping!

Please FReepmail me if you want on or off this South Texas/Mexico ping list.


7 posted on 01/29/2006 3:40:14 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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To: Stellar Dendrite; NRA2BFree; Happy2BMe; Spiff; Pelham; Das Outsider; moehoward; ...
*PING!*

While U.S. officials are touting international cooperation, PGR officials in Matamoros said they were unaware of the shootings until they read a local Mexican media report. “We don’t know the source of that report,” said Olivos of the PGR in Matamoros. He said that after learning of the Jan. 4 shooting, his office investigated a ranch en route to Playa Bagdad that was near the reported shooting site. No bullet casings or any other indication of a shooting were found, he said.

Yup...but I guess Jorge Arbusto is more interested in his new "strategery" with the Clintons...y'know...."Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton"...

We are all so screwed.

8 posted on 01/29/2006 3:54:53 PM PST by Itzlzha ("The avalanche has already started...it is too late for the pebbles to vote")
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To: oldtimer

You must be thinking of Zach Taylor.


9 posted on 01/29/2006 3:59:42 PM PST by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: SwinneySwitch; albertp; Allosaurs_r_us; Abram; AlexandriaDuke; Americanwolf; Annie03; Baby Bear; ...
I've got the plan -

End the war on marijuana users here in the U.S.

Allow domestic production of cannabis. That would destroy the profit motivation for smuggling marijuana.

Use the "war on marijuana" money, which is about 11 billion U.S. dollars to beef up security on the U.S. / Mexican border.

The end of the "war on marijuana users" would also have the benefit of freeing up law enforcement from having to track down and arrest some 700,000 otherwise law abiding citizens. Law enforcement and our court system could then focus a lot more time on people who are truly doing harmful things to other citizens.

I strongly protest our border agent s's safety being jeopardized!

10 posted on 01/29/2006 4:16:22 PM PST by winston2 (In matters of necessity let there be unity, in matters of doubt liberty, and in all things charity.)
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To: winston2

"I've got the plan" - as he takes another drag!


11 posted on 01/29/2006 4:29:21 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (Liberals-beyond your expectations!)
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To: winston2

Makes sense to me. End the WOD and defund these criminals.


12 posted on 01/29/2006 4:53:58 PM PST by 11B40 (times change, people don't)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Calling Jorge Bush! American citizens demand that you speak up about this outrage if you can stop your pandering long enough to do so. Your silence is deafening!


13 posted on 01/29/2006 4:55:38 PM PST by janetgreen (Washington fiddles while America is invaded!)
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To: SwinneySwitch; winston2
"I've got the plan" - as he takes another drag!

Actually, it's a "toke", and winstons plan makes more sense than anything coming out of that sh!thole in DC, Congress or the WH, or from any of the 50 States for that matter. Blackbird.

14 posted on 01/29/2006 4:56:18 PM PST by BlackbirdSST (Diapers, like Politicians, need regular changing for the same reason!)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Bring in the troops!

The ACLU will never go for that.

15 posted on 01/29/2006 5:07:50 PM PST by lowbridge (All that is needed for evil to triumph is for "RINOS" to do something)
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To: BlackbirdSST; winston2

Maybe you two should run for public office, Kinky Friedman is!


16 posted on 01/29/2006 5:42:42 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (Liberals-beyond your expectations!)
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To: 1_Inch_Group; 2sheep; 2Trievers; 3AngelaD; 4Freedom; 4ourprogeny; 7.62 x 51mm; A CA Guy; ...

ping


17 posted on 01/29/2006 7:21:16 PM PST by gubamyster
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To: SwinneySwitch
Maybe you two should run for public office, Kinky Friedman is!

winston2 takes the lectern - straightens his neck tie -

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the cannabis users and the DEA agents will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom, justice and fields of cannabis.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the THC that may be present in their urine but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

(spoof of Dr. Martin Luther King - I have a dream speach.)

18 posted on 01/29/2006 7:23:44 PM PST by winston2 (In matters of necessity let there be unity, in matters of doubt liberty, and in all things charity.)
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To: SwinneySwitch; janetgreen; All

http://www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_3448828

Gang plots border attack

Jan 29, 2006
Author: Sara A. Carter and Kenneth Todd Ruiz

Members of a violent international gang working for drug cartels in Central and South America are planning coordinated attacks along the U.S. border with Mexico, according to a Department of Homeland Security document obtained by the Daily Bulletin.

Detailed inside a Jan. 20 officer safety alert, the plot's ultimate goal is to "begin gaining control of areas, cities and regions within the U.S."

The information comes from the interrogation of a captured member of Mara Savatrucha, or MS-13, a transnational criminal syndicate born from displaced El Salvadoran death squads from the 1980s.

The MS-13 member, who claimed to have smuggled cocaine for the Gulf Cartel, explained a plan to amass MS-13 members in Mexican border towns such as Nuevo Laredo, Acuna, Ojinaga and Juarez. The Gulf Cartel runs its drug smuggling operations from Del Rio, Texas, to south of Matamoros, Mexico.

"After enough members have been pre-positioned along the border, a coordinated attack using firearms was to commence against all law enforcement, to include Border Patrol," the alert states.

Mike Friel, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, would not comment specifically on the alert.

Through investment, technology and infrastructure, Friel said, Homeland Security is "determined to gain control of the border."

Law enforcement officials along the border said they had not received the alert.

Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez of Zapata County in Texas said he was angry about the alert because he has never received information from the Department of Homeland Security about this or any other threat along the Texas border.

"That is something that I was not aware of, but information like this should be given to us immediately," he said.

Gonzalez said it's another example of poor communication between law enforcement agencies.

"Since Sept. 11, we heard there was going to be a sharing of information, but today we still haven't received anything," he said. "All the information of threat levels, I get through the media."

In Arizona's Santa Cruz County, where in May a sniper shot two Border Patrol agents in the legs, Sheriff Tony Estrada said he was alarmed by the documented threat.

"That message seems to be the strongest type of indicator that they are seriously planning to use force," he said.

Estrada added that it shows how frustrated the smugglers have become, but said the plot is a "bad idea" that wouldn't work.

"It would be real dumb move," he said. "If that should happen, and if any of our agents are threatened or injured or killed, it's going to create a lot of unity and cooperation."

Gonzalez added that his deputies have seen increasing violence from drug cartels and what he believes are Mexican soldiers working for them.

A member of the 16-county Texas Sheriff's Border Coalition, Gonzalez said he would immediately inform other sheriffs.

As a precaution, he would change how his deputies operate, he said. Some of his deputies have been patrolling the border alone.

"We're going to be better prepared, and the officers will too," he said. "Unfortunately (the cartels) are not going to wait."

According to a secretary in the office of Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger, Vinger said he had no information about the potential threat.

Andrea Simmons of the FBI's office in El Paso, Texas, said she is familiar with such threats, but said her office is not investigating any such attacks.

"We haven't had any specific threats regarding that or any information for us to be able to follow up on," she said.

AGENTS UNDER FIRE

The alert documents several armed, brazen attacks on Border Patrol agents between May and January. Violence at the border has risen dramatically during the past couple of years, according to law enforcement officers all along the border.

Estrada said crime there is "more competitive, more profitable and more violent," and that increased scrutiny at the border and intensified law enforcement efforts have frustrated criminal elements in Mexico.

A smuggler named Pablo "El Patron" Mercado said he will no longer tolerate the loss of contraband and has ordered smugglers to carry firearms, according to a Jan. 13 alert referenced in the document.

Sgt. Benjamin Reyna of the Bisbee Police Department in Arizona said he's seen much more violence in the past several years.

"It's on the increase," he said. "They have a lot less fear of law enforcement now."

Reyna said cartel enforcers, smugglers and people suspected of being current and former Mexican military are taking shots at law enforcement officers.

CENTRAL AMERICAN INTERESTS

The primary subject of the alert concerns a confrontation between a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector and 20 men armed with assault rifles in the area where a creek feeds into the Rio Grande in Zapata County on Jan. 9.

The inspector, who was on horseback, said a boat dropped the group off inside U.S. territory. Some of the subjects appeared to be carrying automatic assault rifles, and threatened to shoot the inspector's dogs, the alert stated.

The inspector had his gun and badge hidden under his jacket so the men could not see that he was a law enforcement agent. He told the armed men he was a rancher.

"(He) stated that he believed this might have saved his life," the alert stated.

The inspector, who is fluent in Spanish and has lived near the border all his life, believed the men were not Mexican nationals, based on their accents.

The incident report concluded that the men probably were from Central America and members of either MS-13 or ex-Guatemalan Kaibiles, a military special forces unit specializing in jungle warfare and counterinsurgency.


19 posted on 01/29/2006 10:02:55 PM PST by WatchingInAmazement ("Nothing is more expensive than cheap labor," prof. Vernon Briggs, labor economist Cornell Un.)
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To: WatchingInAmazement
Anyone denying that there is a war on the Mexican border is blind.

What will it take to wake up the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives? American deaths? Why aren't the Governors screaming at Washington? Why isn't the MSM getting this news out?

Disgusted Americans want to know the answers! Disgusted Americans demand action at the border!

20 posted on 01/29/2006 10:44:15 PM PST by janetgreen (Washington fiddles while America is invaded!)
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To: gubamyster

Protect our borders and coastlines from all foreign invaders!

Support our Minutemen Patriots!

Be Ever Vigilant ~ Bump!


21 posted on 01/30/2006 7:16:37 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: RobbyS

I was thinking of Sam Houston and the battle of San Jacinto.


22 posted on 01/30/2006 3:24:48 PM PST by oldtimer
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