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    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    Feb 2005

    Details emerge about deadly cross-border shooting

    The Monitor

    NEAR SULLIVAN CITY — The five men who illegally crossed the Rio Grande to reportedly avoid apprehension Thursday by the Mexican military were unarmed when soldiers shot at them from Mexico, a U.S. law enforcement source close to the investigation said.

    One man died on U.S. federal land, another suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the ankle and three others were taken into custody by U.S. federal authorities, San Antonio FBI Spokesperson Eric Vasys said Friday.

    U.S. authorities have yet to disclose the events that drove the men to cross the Rio Grande about 6 p.m. Thursday near the Mexican town of Diaz Ordaz, which is southwest of the U.S town of Sullivan City.

    "We’re looking into the circumstances that led to these individuals crossing over," Vasys said. "(The investigation) is still ongoing and we’re trying to sort it out."

    A Border Patrol agent not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation told a Monitor reporter that a U.S. Customs and Border Protection chopper radioed in a shots-fired call about two hours prior to the shooting.

    Someone on U.S. soil apparently shot at the helicopter that was allegedly carrying advisors to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security as they toured the border near La Joya, he said.

    Vasys said he had not heard of any such reports.

    A second law enforcement official, also not authorized to speak publicly, said that likely did not happen.

    "It was not a U.S. law enforcement helicopter that got fired on, but rather a Mexican government helicopter," the second U.S. law enforcement official said.

    A Mexican military chopper began chasing after the men during an operation along the river, and the men shot at it at one point or another while in Mexico, he said.

    It's unclear if they swam across the river or simply found a location where they could cross the border by foot, but the individuals apparently ditched their weapons before crossing into the U.S. because authorities did not find any on them, he added.

    "When they got to the U.S. side, the illegals that had crossed over started taunting the Mexican military — doing all kinds of obscene gestures and cuss words — and then the military fired upon them," he said. "We don’t believe the illegals that came across were armed."

    Bad Blood?

    A source outside law enforcement said that for a long time, certain members of the Mexican military had been working alongside members of the Gulf Cartel.

    In order to keep up appearances, drug smugglers would leave behind vehicles loaded drugs for the soldiers to seize so the members of the military could report back to their superiors, the source said. The communications to coordinate the drops between drug smugglers and soldiers were carried out with Nextel radio communication telephones that are difficult to trace.

    However, during the organization’s internal struggle that began last September, some of these troops were caught in the crossfire.

    “They are mad and now all bets are off,” the source said. “Remember, last week (Jan. 26), the military killed some people in the morning, and then the ambush happened. The ‘Verdes’ are out for blood.”

    In an apparent day of firefights last week, the Mexican military was ambushed in the streets of Reynosa by members of the Gulf Cartel who set up a bait car to draw out the soldiers. The Mexican military didn’t issue any news releases in connection with the firefights that day.

    Prior to that, unknown assailants had lobbed two grenades at the headquarters of the Matamoros military police, killing one man and critically injuring another.

    Vasys did not have information about whether the men taken into custody Thursday night were armed or not, he said, adding that U.S. authorities did not discharge their weapons at any time during the incident.

    Authorities, who remain tight-lipped about the shooting, did not release the men's identities.

    Mexican Consulate officials in McAllen also were waiting to learn the identity of the deceased man, Consul Jose Manuel Gutierrez Minera said about 4:30 p.m. Friday. He expected the information to come from federal authorities late Friday.

    "Out of respect for the family, we usually wait to contact them first before releasing information," he said.

    U.S. authorities do not know if anyone died in Mexico during the incident, Vasys said.

    The FBI is heading the investigation because the incident happened on land owned by the federal government.

    "It's not a common theme for FBI to be involved in altercations (along the border) because so much of what we do is long-term investigation," he said. "Historically, the FBI is a follow-up investigative entity unless we're working an active investigation of drug trafficking by the cartels or gang activity along the border."

    The agency, however, does get involved any time a federal agent is wounded or killed, he said. So if a Border Patrol agent is hurt along the border, the FBI will take over those investigations, too.

    Vasys would not comment on whether the shooting could be classified as spillover violence.

    "I’m not going to speak to that," he said. "FBI deals with investigation and enforcement. So what we’re doing is the follow up to the death that occurred on U.S. property. I’m not going to speak to what this may or may not be characterized by other government sources."


    “The situation in Mexico has been a concern for our agency,” said Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw.

    “Our concern is that criminal organizations in Mexico combating each other or the Mexican military could attempt to flee to our side of the border. To address those concerns, we have established contingency plans and work alongside federal and local agencies.”

    The incident in Havana is just one of the many types of incidents law enforcement in the area is prepared for.

    “The average citizen should know that there are state, local and federal law enforcement professionals working in a proactive fashion to address any contingency. Texas has been very proactive in this; we have increased our patrol presence and our tactical capabilities to deter any situation.”

    While McCraw was not able to discuss details of the situation, he said his agency dissects and studies all border incidents that it responds to.

    Source: Details emerge about deadly cross-border shooting | details, emerge, border -
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  2. #2
    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
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