On Saturday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that a Border Patrol agents from Laredo sector shot and killed the driver of a vehicle in that city on Friday night. The driver had used his vehicle to pin another agent and a suspect against another vehicle at an apparent smuggling site. The FBI, local police, and the CBP and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility are investigating the incident.
CBP explains that its agents were working with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) component (which has jurisdiction over smuggling in the interior) and the Webb County Constable's Office in response to a report of possible human smuggling in a residential section of Laredo. Agents found a tractor-trailer with illegal aliens inside.
While they were there, a separate vehicle arrived at the scene. According to a video from Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Matthew Hudak, a second vehicle approached and the driver suddenly accelerated in reverse, in an attempt to flee. That vehicle struck a parked vehicle, pinning a Border Patrol agent and a suspect the agent was interviewing between the two vehicles.
Agents ordered the second vehicle to stop, according to Hudak, but the driver continued to accelerate in reverse. To prevent further injury to the agent and the suspect, agents "deployed lethal force", shooting and killing the driver and injuring two passengers in the second vehicle.
Not surprisingly, given the violent force of the escape attempt, the agent suffered "significant injuries to his legs". He was treated at a local hospital and released the next day. One of the two passengers has also been treated and released, while the second remains hospitalized.
It was just the latest incident in the past week in which Laredo Border Patrol interrupted smuggling attempts.
CBP reported on Friday that in just a 30-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday, agents arrested 106 illegal aliens (92 from Mexico, the rest from Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, and El Salvador) in nine incidents involving just about every smuggling scenario you could think of: stash houses, vehicle stops, checkpoint investigations of commercial vehicles, bailouts, and a train-check operation (in which 19 aliens were found on a freight train).
And, of course, four separate incidents in which migrants had been abandoned by their smugglers in the brush.
In one of the vehicle stops (followed by a bailout), agents found "16 individuals" in what appears to be the cab of a pickup "packed so tightly that some at the bottom of the pile were having difficulty breathing. They immediately asked for assistance due to the high temperatures in the vehicle and lack of water.
Smuggling has always had its fair share of dangers for everyone involved: migrants, agents, and the smugglers themselves. These incidents show that, in Laredo at least, smugglers are getting more desperate. And callous.
The investigation of the incident is ongoing.