JANUARY 23, 2008
Days after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was deliberately killed by Mexican smugglers Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff revealed that agents are regularly under siege by violent drug cartels and that violence along the border will definitely increase this year.
Chertoff disclosed the information while discussing the tragic death of Border Patrol officer Luis Aguilar, a 32-year-old father of two struck by a sports utility vehicle speeding through California’s Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area on Saturday. Authorities say drug smugglers were trying to bring a cargo into the U.S. when the agent tried to stop them by laying down a spike strip. The driver intentionally hit the agent, according to witnesses.
It marks the first murder of a Border Patrol agent since 1998 and an outraged Chertoff called it a heinous act of violence. He added that agents are constantly attacked by cartels retaliating against toughened enforcement that has made it harder to bring drugs into the U.S. Assaults on Border Patrol agents have actually increased 44% in the last few months.
Agents are regularly attacked with firearms, knives, bats, steel pipes, vehicles, boats and slingshots. In fact, violence along the U.S.-Mexico border is at an all-time high with a steady increase in serious incidents practically each month. Authorities say it’s because drug cartels, human smuggling rings and gangs are increasingly better equipped.
Also contributing are the notoriously corrupt and heavily armed Mexican law enforcement agencies, known for their involvement in drug smuggling. Unable to ignore the crisis any longer, the Mexican government finally sent army soldiers to take over police stations along the country’s border with Texas this week. Soldiers disarmed police officers and confiscated evidence of their link to drug cartels.
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