Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juaarez

By Howard Campbell | Go to book overview

Patrolling the Drug War Zone: A Border
Patrol Agent in the War on Drugs

On January 21, 2008, a Border Patrol agent from El Paso named Luis Aguilar Jr. was run over and killed near Yuma, Arizona, allegedly by a drug smuggler driving a Hummer vehicle. Aguilar was apparently the first agent murdered by smugglers in recent years. Other agents who died in the line of duty perished by drowning or in vehicle accidents (Sanchez 2008).

In 2006, a military Humvee loaded with marijuana and driven by a large group of heavily armed men with mounted machine guns and dressed in Mexican army uniforms crossed the Rio Grande near Ft. Hancock, Texas. The drug traffickers behaved menacingly toward Border Patrol officers. In another incident, in 2002, seventeen bandits robbed a U.S. train in the Sunland Park, New Mexico, border area. This led to a brawl involving the train robbers and members of a multiagency task force including Border Patrol agents; several FBI agents were severely beaten on Mexican soil in Anapra, an outlying barrio of Ciudad Juárez (Valdez 2002).

There have also been many rumors about Mexican drug cartels offering rewards to those who kill Border Patrol agents, though to date there have been no proven cases of such killings. However, such threats do psychological harm. In addition to the many physical risks confronted by Border Patrol agents—which are amply discussed in this account— they live in a constant state of low-level fear from having to work in hazardous rural settings (for example, canyons, rivers, and mountains) as well as in dangerous urban settings (train trestles, international bridges, river beds, urban barrios, etc.). Additionally, Border Patrol agents face unpredictable attacks by often well-armed immigrant smugglers, common criminals, and drug traffickers, although drug smugglers make up

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