Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013 9:27 pm

Jacqueline Armendariz | The Monitor

Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, right, meets supporters at the El Pato Restaurant in McAllen on Monday, July 15, 2013. Abbott is looking to succeed Gov. Rick Perry in next year's election. Photo by Delcia Lopez

McALLEN — Citing a hail of gunfire from Mexico, which reportedly prompted Texas Rangers to throw tear gas across the river to protect Border Patrol agents, state Attorney General Greg Abbott said Mission has become the latest site of border violence.

Abbott, in part, hit strongly on national and border security in his speech and a subsequent media interview during a campaign stop Monday in McAllen. He announced his run for governor Sunday, following Gov. Rick Perry’s declaration a week earlier that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

“It was just last week when there was an outbreak of gunfire between (the Department of Public Safety) across the border, down the road in Mission,” Abbott said in his speech. “That’s just the latest instance.”

On Thursday, DPS announced officers responded to an incident involving tear gas in South Texas, but said in a news release it would not disclose the location for “security purposes.”

The incident Abbott said took place in Mission, alleging it involved cartel members, happened early Thursday afternoon, according to the DPS release.

“We need to make sure that people in the Valley, people anywhere in the state of Texas are going to be kept safe from these dangers,” Abbott said in a media interview, adding the federal government is failing to secure the border.

DPS said Texas Rangers in a boat on the Rio Grande responded to a call from the U.S. Border Patrol reporting shots fired. When the Rangers arrived, DPS said they saw Border Patrol agents had taken cover in their own boat, while pointing to people on the Mexican side believed to be responsible for the gunfire.

Rangers then launched tear gas rounds in the direction of those individuals in Mexico, who reportedly vacated the area, DPS said.

Abbott called Mexican drug cartels a growing danger plaguing the state and said he’d create a plan to protect Texans.

Specifically, he said even if it means spending more, he’d make efforts to prevent spillover by bringing more manpower to the border to push back cartels, utilize the latest technology, improve communication among the multiple law enforcement agencies here and crack down on a “growing trend” of corruption, something he said he’s already been involved in as Texas attorney general.

“On pure national security, there is one story — just of one many along these lines — about members of Hezbollah who were arrested in San Antonio who have been smuggled through our southern border,” he said.

Media did not ask him to elaborate on the case, but a May report from the San Antonio Express-News names a former U.S. Army linguist once connected to Hezbollah who was on trial. He was accused of failing to disclose his membership in the Amal militia and Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s when applying for U.S. citizenship and for a security clearance with the Defense Department for a contracting job, the Express-News reported.

The reports on the case from the publication make no mention of Mexico and state he is not charged specifically with espionage or terrorism.