Citizens along the southern U.S. border are scared for their lives, but it isn’t because of criminals with weapons.
In this case, they’re more afraid of the Mexican army.
In January, two heavily armed, camouflaged Mexican soldiers from a remote Mexican army outpost drew their guns on U.S. Border Patrol agents 50 yards into the United States border.
Then, according to KVOA-TV, in March the same group opened fire on Javier Jose Rodriguez, a young Tucson, Arizona, man visiting family in Sásabe when he was driving around the town early on a Saturday morning after drinking beers with friends.
Rodriguez was shot in the arm and in the side; he spent three weeks at University of Arizona Medical Center.
Another border town resident said in 2006, a Mexican army helicopter in the area crossed the border and landed in the U.S. about 300 yards across the border.
“A helicopter flew very low. Flew around behind the barn, landed and then several men got out all clad in black with masks over their face and body armor, carrying what looked to be full automatic weapons,” Ronald Ayers recalled.
Ayers said the FBI took his report, but then he never heard another word. What angers the residents most is the slow response to the incidents by the U.S. government.
U.S. State Department sources told KVOA they believe Mexico’s attorney general is investigating the March attack, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) — the senior Republican senator on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee – ordered the Homeland Security Department to produce answers about the Mexican army incursion by early February.
Coburn’s office didn’t immediately respond to TheBlaze with confirmation that DHS has ignored the order, but KVOA reported that as of this week, the agency hasn’t responded to the senator’s demand.
U.S. officials said the January incident was one of nearly two dozen border incursions by Mexican soldiers into southern Arizona in the last four years, and on Tuesday — despite weeks of denials that the incident was caused by the Mexican army — when presented with the U.S. confirmation of the incident, the Mexican embassy confirmed that the men were soldiers.
“Those individuals were part of a counter-narcotics operation, which had taken place a few minutes prior on the Mexican side of the border,” said Ariel Moutsatsos, minster for press and public affairs at the Mexican Embassy, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The two members of the Mexican army did not see any sign notifying them that they were crossing the border.”
Moustsatsos said the incident was “an isolated and unintended occurrence” and noted that U.S. border agents also crossed the border from time to time.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.