Mexican Army troops cross border into U.S. 300 times since 1996

US Mexico border map

Lupita Murillo and Michel Marizco report from Sásabe, Sonora, for KVOA News4 Tucson, April 30, 2014, asking if “a unit of Mexican Army soldiers who patrol right on the Arizona border” has “gone rogue.”

This small group has attacked U.S. citizens, and even challenged U.S. federal agents within the U.S.:

  • In January 2014, soldiers from this lonely outpost of the Mexican Army drew their guns on U.S. Border Patrol agents just 50 yards into the United States. The Mexican soldiers carried G-3 rifles and claimed they’d gotten lost while pursuing a drug smuggler.
  • In March, they opened fire on Javier Jose Rodriguez, a young Tucson man visiting family in Sásabe when he was driving around the town early on a Saturday morning after drinking beer with friends. Shot in the arm and in the side, Rodriguez spent three weeks at the University of Arizona Medical Center. His medical bills are now over $43,000 and he wants justice.

The United States’ reaction has been tepid, angering people who live and patrol along the Arizona border.

“From what I understand, this has happened hundreds of times before,” says Sylvia Longmire, a border security analyst whose recent book, Border Insecurity, details the challenges and failings of some Homeland Security operations along the Arizona-Sonora border. Referring to the incident between the Border Control agents and the Mexican soldiers, Longmire says, “I believe there was some confusion as to whether that’s what the Mexican Army was doing because there was no evidence found by the Border Patrol of any drug smugglers in the area.”

Reports obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act show that members of Mexico’s Army have crossed into the U.S. at least 300 times over the past 18 years. The reports show that across the entire border, Mexican soldiers have driven into Texas, landed helicopters in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and encountered Border Patrol agents within the United States.

“I mean, it’s very nerve-wracking,” said Art del Cueto, President of the Border Patrol’s union in the Tucson Sector, Local 2544. “A lot of these encounters happen in the middle of the night where, you know, the lighting is low and you don’t know who you’re encountering. You’re sitting there and seeing a group of guys coming up to you and they’re all carrying long-arms, you don’t know what you’re encountering.”

Sources in the U.S. State Department say they believe Mexico’s Attorney General is looking into that March attack. But nobody is investigating why these soldiers cross into Arizona.

Arivaca resident, Ronald Ayers 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,” Ayers recalls. What frustrates him, even now, is that he never heard another word about the incident after he was interviewed by both the FBI and Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) had ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to produce answers into the Mexican Army incursion by early February. But as of April 30, 2014, DHS hasn’t responded to the senator’s demand.

UPDATE (June 28, 2014):

On June 26, 2014, a Mexican military helicopter flew across the border into Arizona, west of the San Miguel Gate on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation, and fired two shots at two U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Tomás Zerón, the director of the Mexican attorney general’s office investigative office, denied the incident ever happened. But Border Patrol Tucson Sector union president Art Del Cueto and Border Patrol spokesperson Andy Adame said the Mexican chopper did fire two shots at the border agents who were a mere 15 yards away, and that the Mexican government apologized. (Source: CBS Las Vegas and the AP)

~StMA

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11 responses to “Mexican Army troops cross border into U.S. 300 times since 1996

  1. Looks like it has more than doubled since I was aware of these back in the early 90’s. I have also exposed this statistic to the public as Congress appeared to be keeping this quiet while the DHS was trying to cover this up. Any “armed” Military at the U.S. American Border is a direct violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo 1848.(USA won the war and paid $15 Million USD for ALL the remaining southwest states.) See my web site: http://www.customscorruption.com

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  2. anchorageknight

    My first reaction is one of irony: how many (hundreds? thousands?) of times did the US Army cross into Mexico? Several times on expeditions to annex territory (to the extent more of former Mexico is now US territory than is current Mexican territory) – at for sure what we call the Mexican war was illegal in our own terms and unprovoked. Many times on punitive expeditions re “Indians” and raiders – some of those with Presidential (secret) authorization. And many, many times because of some local officer making a decision (or even being confused – which is not as hard as you might think on unmarked border sections with shifting channels). Apparently at this time the shoe is on the other foot.

    My second reaction is that the writer overstates conclusions at times. “What must surely be fully automatic weapons” is a case in point. There is no way to distinguish purely semiautomatic, selective fire and fully automatic weapons at a distance – all three version of most models exist. More qualified language was appropriate and would certainly have been true and somewhat less alarmist. Since, in that case, the bearers were masked and in black, there is also a possibility they were not Mexican Army at all. Tactical black is used by military, police and even civilian groups on both sides of the border. To write as if this is clear evidence of Mexican military incursions is overstating the evidence. It is possible evidence and ought to be put in qualified terms. These are only two clear examples of my point of several in the article. It is true that sensationalist writing sells more newspapers – it just isn’t the best basis to decide you know what happened or what officially should be done about it?

    The Mexicans have, in addition to an Army, a national police force which has always been very para-military. This is very similar to most Hispanic countries, and also to what the US Army organized in the Philippines (see the Philippine Constabularly – which today has morphed into the Philippine National Police). There is no US comparison, although the US Marshall Service comes fairly close: US Marshall’s, even when they patrolled US territories otherwise devoid of law enforcement did not patrol in platoon and company sized formations with full military arms, but Federali’s long have done. Border patrol along 1200 miles of border with massive numbers of unlawful incursions on a daily basis is anything but simple – just ask the US Border Patrol, US Customs, US Army and Marines assigned to certain points of that very border, and local sheriff’s and city police along it. A wide variety of situations occur virtually every day – many of them in relatively or absolutely remote areas. There are both legitimate and unlawful options on the table for every agency (and non-official
    group) all the time, and even some potential for confusion and actual mistakes being made by all of them. Both the Federali’s and the Mexican Army have long traditions of being fairly civil and under discipline – even when they don’t intend to do what someone asks them to do they will apologize, for example – and that goes back more than a century. It is then their tradition to explain the legal or policy foundation of the decision. They have in my view a somewhat better history in such matters than US Federal border officials do – just ask lawful US citizens on our side of the border who run afoul of the suspicions of the Border Patrol. We even had a child shot to death on his own land by Marines, who at best were confused – although possibly understandably so – I expect better of Marines in teams who encounter a child – regardless of details (because I was trained to USMC standards of fire discipline and fire control).

    There may indeed be a problem with the Mexican Army: 300 reports seems excessive. On the other hand, some of these may not be Mexican Army at all – or even Mexican at all – given the quality of the data in the few instances cited here. Any serious analysis or investigation needs to be done with an open mind, meaning you do not start already “knowing” what happened, or who did it? What is being investigated isn’t (or should not be) the Mexican Army – it is what is the basis of these reports? It is likely there are several different causes. There are likely several different explanations even within a single “cause” by a single institution’s people. A good report will seek to identify all of the people involved, and all of the kinds of circumstances, and will admit what is unknown as well as what is certain. Only after such an investigation is done can reasonable conclusions be reached, even in an academic sense, never mind in a policy sense. I am reminded of the lady detective who once said “I like working with you: you don’t want to believe even what you strongly suspect is true. You have to be dragged kicking and screaming by the evidence to the conclusion you are right. I don’t have to worry about getting into trouble because of what we conclude: if you conclude it, surely it will stand the test of any kind of later evaluation.” Laymen tend to follow the suggestion of the speaker or writer and then reason from conclusions – and that is quite unwise.

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    • anchorageknight, not to be picky ,but you said:

      My second reaction is that the writer overstates conclusions at times. “What must surely be fully automatic weapons” is a case in point.

      I believe the writer was quoting Arivaca resident Ronald Ayers, who said: “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,” Ayers recalls.”

      Just saying. 🙂
      Steve

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  3. In point of fact, the USA has treaties with both Canada and Mexico allowing police and/or military units to cross borders in “hot pursuit” of criminals and/or terrorists. I know of no incident where Mexican army or police have crossed the border and engaged in a firefight with US police or military. An “encounter” just means the two groups met, not that there were hostilities. US law enforcement agencies have entered Mexico on similar missions. The original treaty with Mexico in 1880.

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    • rthurs666,

      It never ceases to amaze me how absolutely CERTAIN you are in your assertions. How exactly do you know that the 300 incidents of Mexican troops crossing the border into the U.S. were all “in hot pursuit” of criminals/terrorists? Was Jose Rodriguez a criminal and/or terrorist? And if all those 300 cross-border incursions were legit, why won’t the DHS respond to Sen. Coburn’s request for answers?

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  4. Reblogged this on Fellowship of the Minds and commented:
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  5. Ditto to Dr Eowyn’s comment!
    Trillions for war, but only millions for defense…. [Metaphorically intended, of course, to make a point.]

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  6. Pingback: Mexican Army troops cross border into U.S. 300 times since 1996 |

  7. Thank you StMA for this amazing post. Good for Senator Coburn. He is really persistent. I have great respect for the State of Oklahoma. These 300 such infiltrations into our country must be examined and the truth must come out in this matter as well.

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  8. Pingback: Report: Mexican Military Chopper Crosses Into U.S., Shoots At Border Agents | pundit from another planet

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