SAN ANTONIO (The Blaze/AP) – Texas authorities said suspected drug runners in Mexico began shooting at U.S. law enforcement agents from across the Rio Grande on Thursday, forcing the U.S. officers to return fire and injuring at least three of the suspects on the other side of the border.
Few details about the early morning shootout in Hidalgo County were immediately available. The shootout began after U.S. agents patrolling in boats tried to seize a drug load on the Rio Grande, Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said.
However, local paper The Monitor has pieced together some information:
As they [police] arrived, people from the Mexican side began throwing rocks that struck two game wardens, Cox said. The two game wardens were later taken to a local hospital for treatment and subsequently released.
“At that point the officers were in fear for their lives and the shooting began soon after,” he said. “Our wardens did fire shots to defend themselves.”
DPS confirmed at least three were injured as a result, but officials did not disclose how many officers discharged their weapons.
Sources with direct knowledge of the case from both U.S. and Mexico stated that about 20 individuals were moving a load of narcotics back to Mexico in an apparent effort to elude capture. In addition to the rocks, the suspects on the Mexican side fired about six shots presumably from pistols. Upon hearing the shots, U.S. authorities opened fire as well.
Mange said she could not disclose whether any U.S. officers were struck or injured. She said the agents came under "heavy fire" but would not say how long the ensuing shootout lasted.
However, the "heavy fire" charge is now in dispute.
The Monitor explains that sources now say that authorities faced only six shots from the drug runners that were fired from pistols:
New information obtained from several sources raises questions regarding the claims made by the Texas Department of Public Safety regarding a shootout where U.S. authorities near the Rio Grande came under “heavy fire” Thursday.
Two independent sources from both the U.S. and Mexico said that only six shots from the Mexican side were heard. The rounds hit the ground near the U.S. authorities, raising the question that the incident might not have been that different from any other police-related shooting in the United States.
DPS officials confirmed that the incident occurred shortly after 6 a.m., but wouldn’t disclose the location; other sources placed it south of Abram at 6:23 a.m.
U.S. Border Patrol referred questions to the DPS, which used its elite team of Texas Rangers Recon agents in the attempted drug seizure.
It is not the first time shots have been exchanged along the Texas-Mexico border. Since January of last year, DPS has tracked at least a dozen incidents of shots being fired from Mexico and into Texas, with U.S. officers shooting back in some cases.
No U.S. authorities have been reported hurt in those cases.