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Monday, June 07, 2004

nogalesinternational.com - News 11 Shots Fired At Border Patrol

nogalesinternational.com - News

Suspected smugglers fire 11 shots at BP agent south of Sonoita

By Patti Lewis
Posted: Monday, June 7, 2004 4:58 PM PDT

Violence is escalating along the international border.

Smugglers opened fire on United States Border Patrol agents with an assault weapon and handgun June 2 as the agents attempted to apprehend the driver of a stolen truck.

A Border Patrol agent was following a grey 2004 Ford pickup truck northbound on Highway 83 in Sonoita shortly before 7 a.m. when he discovered the vehicle had a felony alert on it from the Bisbee Police Department.

Apparently, the truck had previously been involved in a felony fleeing incident there, said Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame.

Before the agent could conduct a stop, the truck's driver turned around in the area of milepost 21 and started driving south toward the international border. When he neared the border, he ran across another truck parked just north of the international boundary.

The agent radioed for backup, and continued toward the vehicles.

As he approached the parked truck, smugglers who were waiting inside the vehicle opened fire on him.

They shot at the agent 11 times with two types of firearms. He moved his vehicle away to a safer spot, and was rammed by another truck that fled into Mexico a short time later.

Several more agents and a Border Patrol helicopter responded. They encountered two other trucks that were also proceeding north on Highway 83. Those trucks, upon seeing the agents, turned around and drove toward the border, as well, Adame said.

The shooters' truck lost a tire and rim about one mile from the border. The occupants fled on foot into Mexico. Further investigation revealed that the 1999 Ford F-250 had been reported stolen in Scottsdale.

Border Patrol agents in a helicopter intercepted a second truck, a 2004 Ford F-350. The occupants of that truck also abandoned it about one-quarter of a mile north of the border and ran away into Mexico.

Agents found 325 pounds of marijuana, valued at $260,000, in both trucks. The drugs were turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The trucks were taken to the Bisbee Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

No agents were injured, and no suspects were arrested. The FBI continues to investigate, and to determine the smuggling organization behind the shooting.

Adame said the incident is the first of its kind here, where smugglers were lying in wait for an agent, and ready to shoot him.

"This is an escalation in violence with smugglers along the border. We are thankful that our agent didn't get hurt."

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