America’s border czar declared that Mexican troops who held a U.S. Border Patrol agent at gunpoint in August did so after bypassing a barbed-wire fence and other clearly visible barriers on the border.
That contradicts earlier claims by U.S. officials that the soldiers were simply lost.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham sent a letter to the National Border Patrol Council Local 2544 in Tucson, Ariz., describing the Aug. 3 border incident as a "potential lethal encounter involving four Mexican armed military soldiers north of the international boundary.
"There is a barbed-wire fence and new tactical infrastructure within sight that marks the borderline where the incident took place. Our uniformed agent, in a marked Border Patrol vehicle, identified himself in both English and Spanish."
Basham said most incursions into the U.S. by Mexican troops or law enforcement authorities take place in remote areas where the border is poorly marked, the Washington Times reports. But "that was not the case in this particular incident," he said.
As Newsmax reported in August, agents assigned to the Border Patrol at Ajo, Ariz., said the Mexican soldiers crossed the border into an isolated area southwest of Tucson and pointed rifles at the agent, who has not been identified. The Mexican troops withdrew after other American agents arrived on the scene.
At the time of the incident, the U.S. State Department said the Mexican soldiers did not know where they were and needed to make certain that the U.S. agent was who he said he was. A spokesman said the incident "stemmed from a momentary misunderstanding as to the exact location of the Mexican-U.S. border."
Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd Easterling at the time said the incursion occurred in an area where there were "no markers, at least not easily found."
But Local 2544 President Edward "Bud" Tuffly II said the four Mexican soldiers crossed into the U.S. after passing vehicle barriers that Homeland Security had erected in the area. He also said the American agent was in full uniform and was driving a marked Border Patrol vehicle, complete with red and blue lights, large green stripes down the side and the large words "Border Patrol" on the sides and the rear of the vehicle.
"A reasonable person would conclude that the soldiers knew exactly at whom they were pointing their rifles," Tuffly said. "Had the agent panicked and fired a shot or attempted to flee in his vehicle, there is little doubt the Mexican soldiers would have opened fire."
Tuffly, a veteran Border Patrol agent, called the State Department's description of the incident "unfortunate."
The Times observed: “It was not clear what the soldiers were doing in the United States, but U.S. law enforcement authorities have long said that current and former Mexican military personnel have been hired to protect drug and migrant smugglers.”
Basham said the matter has been sent to the State Department “with a request for diplomatic action.”
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