At midnight on Saturday, the U.S. Border Patrol launches "Operation River Freedom Denial," a response to several clashes between agents and drug smugglers this week along the border.
The operation will move more agents to the Brownsville and McAllen areas, to assist sheriffs' departments and local police. On Monday, sheriff's deputies near Abram, Texas, reported an across-the-river gun fight with smugglers, only the second such incident in the last 10 years, according to Daniel Doty, public affairs officer for the border patrol.
There was another shootout in downtown Matamoros, Mexico – across from Brownsville – on Thursday that didn't involve American agents. Another group of smugglers reportedly rammed a border patrol truck this week, trying to escape.
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"I don't know if we've had as much as a problem as they've seen in the Laredo area, but I'm not sure that we don’t either. There has been a lot of clashed between the cartels and the Mexican government south of the river," Doty tells Hair Balls. "Over the last three or four years, it's really increased."
An Associated Press story reported that "more heavily armed deputies will be authorized to return fire across the Mexican border," but Doty says that agents have long been allowed to shoot into Mexico, as long as there was a perceived threat.
Of course, the judgment of border agents hasn't always been solid, resulting in some officers charged with murder. In August, Border Patrol agents in California were criticized for firing at a group of immigrants after they threw rocks at the agents.
-- Paul Knight