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01-29-06, 08:23 AM #1
Mexican military in the US, not that uncommon
Border law enforcement, civilians say military incursions common
By Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Sara A. Carter and Wendy Leung
Behind the war of words between Mexico and the United States concerning military incursions, the people who live and work along the border tell stories of helicopters, soldiers and dangerous encounters.
A survey by the Daily Bulletin of border-area county and city law enforcement officers found a variety of experiences involving what some believe is activity by the Mexican military in the United States.
On Monday, local law enforcement and Border Patrol agents had an armed standoff 50 miles east of El Paso with what they said they believed were Mexican soldiers. No shots were fired and the soldiers retreated back across the Rio Grande.
Residents and lawmen along the border have reported similar stories for more than 10 years, said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, a member of the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition, a group of 16 departments along the border, said incidents similar to the standoff near Sierra Blanca are common.
But, he said, some are worse than others.
On March 3, 2005, a special task force investigating reports of Mexican soldiers crossing the border encountered what appeared to be a military incursion.
"These individuals were wearing (battle dress uniforms), very clean-cut and in good physical condition," Gonzalez said. "They were walking in with backpacks and long-armed weapons inside our border."
That night, 18 miles southeast of Laredo, Texas, the task force, which was made up of people from more than three law enforcement agencies, conducted a stakeout for what they said they believed were Mexican military. The group hid in the brush near an old gravel path called Caliche Road and waited, Gonzalez said.
Later that night, one of Gonzalez's deputies spotted a group of five men in fatigues scouring the brush. Minutes later, more than 20 men followed them, dressed in military fatigues, wearing backpacks and armed with machine guns.
"The (task force members) were scared and way out-numbered," Gonzalez said. "The surveillance team got out of the area and called for backup. (The deputy in charge) was afraid if they encountered these people there was going to be a shootout."
By the time federal, state and county officers arrived on the scene with helicopters, the men could not be found.
Later that night, Border Patrol captured 19 men a few miles away, Gonzalez added.
"These looked like the same men but this time they were not wearing (fatigues)," he said. "They no longer had backpacks or uniforms on. We suspect they heard the helicopters and dumped what they had."
Such reports of Mexican forces entering the United States pose problems for U.S. officials seeking to keep relations between the two countries on an even keel.
However, Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Michael Friel said his agency "can not rule out" that these reports are true.
The Border Patrol is taking Monday's incident in Texas seriously, he said, and reiterated that the U.S. government has urged Mexico to look into the matter.
"We are also investigating it on our end," he said. "No matter who was there; they're criminals who are conducting illegal activities and we're going to shut them down."
Mexican officials said they would investigate Monday's incident but have vigorously denied its troops have crossed the border.
Officials from both countries have suggested the reported incursions could be explained by smugglers disguised as military or soldiers who have gotten lost.
Across that often uneasy border, from California to Texas, many law enforcement officers and civilians say they have no doubt their experiences on the border have involved Mexican soldiers.
Just this month, Lt. Frank Cathey of the Luna County Sheriff's Department in New Mexico has received two reports from Border Patrol about unconfirmed incursions.
According to Cathey, one family that lives 200 yards north of the border called Border Patrol to report armed military on its property.
A rancher also reported seeing a group of people on his property carrying backpacks that Cathey said likely carried marijuana.
After realizing they had been seen, the group was escorted back across the border by people the rancher said he believed were Mexican soldiers, Cathey said.
Although similar reports have been made in the past, Cathey, a 26-year veteran of the department, said two in one month is rare. In Arizona this past May, two Border Patrol agents near Nogales were shot in the leg by a sniper wielding a high-power rifle.
Both agents survived, but Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said the skill and training of the attack were consistent with current or former military personnel.
At Arizona's southwest corner, where the Colorado River runs into Mexico, Yuma County sheriff's chief deputy, Maj. Leon Wilmont, said his department has reports of illegal immigrants being robbed by suspected military personnel.
Wilmont said the victims' reports described uniforms, weapons and actions consistent with military or police training.
While conducting an aerial patrol of the border in July 2004, Commander Raul Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Metro Task Force spotted a Humvee in a rural area east of Nogales, inside U.S. territory.
When he turned around for a second pass, he said, the Humvee retreated back across the border.
He took photos of what looked like five soldiers standing on the Humvee near an open ranch gate.
In April 2005, northwest of Nogales, a rancher reported a Mexican military helicopter landing at his ranch in the Arivaca, Ariz., area, Rodriguez said.
"He said he was stopped on the roadway by the helicopter and about four or five Mexican army soldiers got out," he said.
Media reports said the rancher ordered the soldiers to leave, which they did only after a heated argument. The helicopter then flew back over the border.
One civilian border watch group, the American Border Patrol, flies aerial patrols of the border between Naco, Ariz., and Nogales.
Last June, Mike King said they filmed what he believed were Mexican soldiers exiting a Humvee just south of the border and taking an "aggressive" position near a Border Patrol agent just on the other side of the border.
"I definitely know what military tactics are, and I definitely know when people are maintaining tactical positions," said King, a 12-year U.S. Army veteran. "Those were uniformed military personnel."
The troops did not cross the border and the incident ended.
Police Sgt. Benjamin Reyna said over the years he and others from the police department in Bisbee, Ariz., have seen people who looked and acted like Mexican military.
"Some of their actions mirror basic military-style actions," he said. "These drug runners tend to be a little more unorganized."
During one sweep, Reyna and the narcotics task force detail spotted two vehicles and 15 to 20 men in military-style garb in a National Forest area.
Although he was unsure if they had crossed the border, Reyna said they assumed a tactical "semi-perimeter" with their vehicles and personnel.
Even if they ever knowingly encountered any Mexican soldiers, Reyna said the officers could at best only report it.
"You're schooled pretty intensely on avoiding something that might create some kind of incident that might be uncomfortable for the U.S.," he said.
The number of incursions by Mexican military detailed by a recently released Border Patrol document was said to be more than 200 since 1996, some of which are believed to be in support of drug smuggling.
Mexican authorities continue to deny their military is crossing the border for any reason, except for possible errors in navigation.
On Thursday, Mexico's foreign relations secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez went so far as to suggest U.S. soldiers may have been disguised as Mexican soldiers to smuggle drugs during Monday's incident near Sierra Blanca, Texas.
Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West dismissed that suggestion as absurd.
"When it proves it's not the American military, he'll come up with Mickey Mouse next," he said. "There is no doubt in my mind: it was the Mexican military. He's a complete idiot."
While the U.S. government has asked for investigations of these reported incursions, officials still attempt to keep relations calm, even during these days of emotional debate over illegal immigration and protection of the border.
Friel with Customs and Border Protection said cooperation with Mexico was important for safety and security.
1. Yuma County Sheriff’s Department received several reports of illegal immigrants robbed by suspects dressed and operating consistent with military training.
2. A military helicopter carrying Mexican soldiers landed inside the border at a ranch in Arivaca, Ariz.
3. Two border patrol agents shot in the legs by a sniper east of Nogales, Ariz.
4. A Mexican military Humvee carrying five men in uniform was spotted several hundred feet inside the United States by the Santa Cruz Metro Task Force.
5. About 10 Mexican soldiers from a Humvee took up offensive positions around a Border Patrol agent south of Sierra Vista, Ariz.
6. Bisbee police officers working a night time narcotics task force spotted 15 to 20 uniformed men with two vehicles.
7. Two reports from ranchers alleged incursions by Mexican military on their property.
8. Mexican soldiers had an armed standoff with U.S. law enforcement officers as they facilitated the escape of narcotics-laden vehicles.
9. Mexican soldiers pulled a dump truck being used to transport drugs back across the border into Mexico during an armed standoff with Border Patrol Agents.
10. Multiagency law enforcement task force investigating reported military incursions spotted about 20 men dressed in military fatigues with machine guns.
01-29-06, 12:44 PM #2
Can we get that wall up, they have a big one in china we could model after. I have an idea for illegals, If we catch illegals from mexico we send them to russia, if there from cuba send them to greenland and from canada to mexico... My other idea is to invade mexico but the problem with that is it would be hard to find people who would go, we could gather up all of our meth and crackheads and send them there then they would see no reason to import drugs here, plus it would confuse the shit outta everyone that there was a big migration to mexico.
01-29-06, 09:04 PM #3
I've heard Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez on a Dallas Talk Show a couple of times... He makes a lot of sense, and paints a omnious picture.
I also talked to some Texas Minutemen yesterday, who said exactly the same thing. I threw a donation their way, and if I were closer to the border, I'd volunteer. Here's their web site, but it's relatively new so not much content yet:
if that doesn't work, try:
The ORIGINAL Minuteman Project (more content):
Despite their extremely diligient efforts to do this legally (like a "Neighborhood Watch" group, but armed only for their own protection, with a strict non-confrontation policy unless attacked), the Federal Government and even President Bush are unjustly critical of them, I think - Bush called them vigilantees, and the National Park Service's SWAT team was even training to engage them as early as last year, or so I heard.
I know the Feds have to plan for every contingency, but still seems bass-ackwards to me - They should be down there helping the Minutemen, if anything, instead of treating them as possible hostiles. At least that way the NPS's presence would serve a dual purpose
Last edited by TXCharlie; 01-29-06 at 09:17 PM.
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