Arizona

Jun 27, 2014 9:56 PM by Lupita Murillo

Mexican officials won't confirm or deny border incursion

TUCSON - U.S. officials say Mexican law enforcement fired shots from a helicopter towards U.S. Border Patrol agents. In a statement, the U.S. Border Patrol said the Mexican law enforcement chopper crossed about 100 yards north into the Arizona desert on Thursday morning.
News 4 Tucson Investigators broke the story. Agents were outraged over the incident. The Mexican consulate released a statement Friday regarding a joint operation with Customs and Border Protection.
The statement came from the Attorney General's office in Mexico City. It said, the Mexican government was working an operation that rescued 39 migrants, made 4 arrests and seized a ranch called "La Sierrita" in Altar, Sonora.
The only mention of helicopters was that the traffickers fired at the choppers, and that tactical support arrested those firing the shots.
The news release goes on to say the "Operation was agreed upon and coordinated with the agency of Customs and Border Protection."
That's a completely different story from what the Border Patrol agents say happened, said Art Del Cueto, president of Local 2544, the Border Patrol union in the Tucson Sector. He said of the agents who were fired on: "they are obviously upset. You are working in the U.S., you don't expect a helicopter to come into your area and start shooting at you. "
This happened in one of the most heavily trafficked areas used for drugs and people smuggling. It's on the Tohono O'Odham nation near the San Miguel Gate. Del Cueto was furious when he heard the incoming shift of agents was never notified about the shooting. "The oncoming shift has a right to know. It's a case of officer safety. You need to let them know shots were fired. "
Del Cueto read the statement from the Mexican Attorney General's office. He said he stands 100 percent by what the agents witnessed. He said the Mexican government should be held accountable. He adds, the American people need answers.
When News 4 Tucson Investigators pressed the Mexican consulate for answers regarding the incursion, we were told everything they had to say was in the news release
Here is the entire release:
Statement to the Media, from Tomás Zerón de Lucio, Senior Director of the Criminal Investigation Agency of the Mexican Attorney General's Office, Independence Room in the Mexico Attorney General's Office Building

México, D. F., June 27, 2014

Senior Director of the Criminal Investigation Agency of the Mexican Attorney General's Office: Good afternoon to all the media present.

The Deputy Attorney General's Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime, with the support of the Agency for Criminal Investigation of the Attorney General's Office, the National Secretariat of Defense and the State Police of Sonora rescued 39 migrants, among them Mexicans and Central Americans, and arrested four individuals and seized a ranch called "La Sierrita" in Altar, Sonora.

Intelligence work on drug and human trafficking routes located a premises near the border with the United States which was utilized to illegally pass migrants and drugs across the border since 2006.

We estimate that 400 migrants per day crossed at this point during the summer season with each migrant paying up to seven thousand dollars to cross.

Through the use of satellite images, the building housing the migrants was identified, its location just 150 meters from the border.

In one operation, 27 migrants of Mexican nationality and 13 migrants of foreign nationality were freed. The manager of the ranch, supply store and the person in charge of collecting payments for the migrant guides, Ramón Ernesto Moreno Miranda, was arrested.

Additionally, two workers were arrested and packages containing drugs and ammunition were seized and are being analyzed.

During the air operation, a radio antenna used by the traffickers to signal the presence of authorities was disabled.

As the helicopters from the Attorney General's Office and the Secretariat of National Defense closed in on the premises, they were fired upon by the traffickers. Quick action by the tactical support operating in the area resulted in the arrest of those firing the shots.

This operation was agreed upon and coordinated with the Agency of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The ranch has been seized by the Federal Prosecutor´s Office and those arrested are in its custody.

The foreign migrants were taken to the Sonora State Migratory Station where authorities will determine how they should be repatriated.

With the seizure of the "La Sierrita" ranch, the flow of a large quantity of migrants and drugs crossing from Mexico to the United States has been stopped. These actions by the Mexican government reaffirm our commitment to combating organized crime in a coordinated manner between different government agencies to achieve a Mexico in peace.

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