Wednesday, August 6, 2008 10:33 AM
By: Jim Meyers
Mexican troops crossed the border into Arizona and held a U.S. Border Patrol agent at gunpoint on Sunday, according to a published report.
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 Mexicans withdrew after other American agents arrived on the scene, The Washington Times reports.
It’s not known why the troops crossed the border, but American law enforcement authorities have said that current and former Mexican soldiers have been hired to protect drug and immigrant smugglers.
“Unfortunately, this sort of behavior by Mexican military personnel has been going on for years,” union Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council said on its Web site.
“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.’ It is fortunate that this incident didn’t end in a very ugly gunfight.”
Ricardo Alday, a spokesman at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, told the Times on Tuesday: “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…
“We always try to solve these incidents in a cooperative fashion, and as acknowledged by the Border Patrol, this was the case in the episode at Ajo.”
The General Accounting Office estimates that $23 billion in illegal drugs flow across the border each year.
According to The Times, a coalition of border sheriffs has demanded that the American and Mexican governments probe incursions into the U.S. by heavily armed drug escorts dressed in Mexican military uniforms.
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