HomeNewsAnalysisAre Mexico Cartels Targeting US Border Officials?
ANALYSIS

Are Mexico Cartels Targeting US Border Officials?

US/MEXICO BORDER / 29 JUN 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Reports suggest that assaults on U.S. officials on the Mexico border are on the rise, as desperate traffickers are increasingly prepared to confront law enforcement agents head on. However, a look at these “attacks” shows that the danger may be exaggerated.

According to an article in Mexico’s El Universal, the Border Patrol and other U.S. law enforcement agencies that work along the border have seen an increase in the number of attacks by Mexican drug cartels in recent months. This claim is bolstered by a 2010 Congressional Research Service report on border violence, which indicates that such attacks have increased from 773 recorded incidents in 2005 to 1,073 in 2009.

The Mexican paper cites Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), who provides even more dramatic statistics. McCraw says there were only 356 attacks in 2004, meaning that their frequency may have increased by more than 300 percent in a five year period.

According to McCraw, this is partly due to the fact that cartels are under increased pressure to limit the amount of their product that is seized by authorities. At one time, members of drug cartels threw out their drug shipments or abandoned their vehicles when confronted by U.S. agents, according to McCraw. But today, drug cartels have less tolerance for failure. The DPS official claimed that shipments of drugs and undocumented migrants are now vigorously protected, with gangs using high-speed automobiles and being prepared for direct confrontations with the authorities.

As evidence, McCraw referred El Universal to an incident that occurred on June 9, in which Border Patrol officers in Texas came upon several men unloading more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana on the Mexican side of the border who began to throw rocks and sticks at the agents. The officials said that, after they heard “at least six” gunshots, they opened fire on the men. As the Houston Chronicle noted, the American agents allegedly shot around 300 rounds in the incident.

Since the incident, U.S. officials have identified the men as members of the Gulf Cartel. If true, this would fit with a Drug Enforcement Administration bulletin obtained by Homeland Security Today in early June, which claimed that “the Gulf Cartel has directed [that] no more ‘drug loads’ in the US will be lost (to law enforcement).”

However, the vast majority of these “clashes" are instances of unarmed civilians throwing rocks, sticks and bottles at border agents, who frequently fire their weapons in retaliation. In fact, this has long been a vexing diplomatic issue between the U.S. and Mexico, and the latter country has repeatedly accused U.S. agents of using excessive force.

The most recent such incident occurred in Tijuana on June 21, when three men attempted to jump the border fence which separates the city from San Diego. When U.S. law enforcement officials captured one of them, his associates began to throw rocks and other projectiles at them, according to the agents. In response, a Border Patrol agent shot one of the men in the head. As CNN reports, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has condemned the killing, and asked the United States to punish the officer responsible.

Although McCraw’s remarks are sure to fuel fears of “spillover violence” and trigger more calls for increased security at the border, it’s worth pointing out that the incidence of attacks is still relatively low, considering the number of Border Patrol agents along the border. As an internal Customs and Border Protection study obtained by the Associated Press last year revealed, only three percent of Border Patrol officers were assaulted in 2009, compared with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff's deputies assaulted nationwide during the same period.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

FEATURED / 28 APR 2021

The deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl has displaced heroin as the leading driver of the ongoing opioid crisis in the United…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 28 JAN 2022

A number of media workers in Mexico have been shot and killed, stabbed to death and ambushed in armed attacks…

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 JUN 2021

The embattled governor of a northern border state in Mexico is touting the timely arrests of those allegedly responsible for…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…