FROM: Reuters ~
By Tim Gaynor
A U.S. Border Patrol agent was shot dead by suspected smugglers in a gun
battle close to the Mexico border in southern Arizona and four suspects have
been arrested, authorities said on Wednesday.
Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, was shot dead after he confronted several suspects
while on duty with a special tactical team in a mountainous area a few miles
northwest of the border city of Nogales late on Tuesday night, local and
federal police said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Terry family for their tragic loss,"
CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin said in a statement.
"Our commitment to Agent Terry and his family is that we will do everything
possible to bring to justice those responsible for this despicable act," he
The shooting comes amid growing concern in the United States over the
potential for drug cartel violence to spill across the border from Mexico,
where more than 33,000 people have been killed since President Vicente
Calderon took office in 2006 and vowed to crush the cartels.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer ordered state flags flown at half staff in
tribute to Terry, a Marine Corps veteran from Detroit, Michigan, who served
in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector.
Agents patrolling the sector's 262-mile stretch of the Mexico border make
around half of the illegal immigrant arrests and marijuana seizures recorded
along the southwest border.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said the assailants were likely to be
either smugglers who use the rugged, mountainous area west of Nogales to
haul both drugs and illegal immigrants into the United States, or bandits
who frequently prey on them, he said.
"That area is known to be a smuggling area, both human and drug smuggling,"
Estrada told Reuters.
"We don't know if they were protecting a load or preying on people who were
coming through ... the area ... with drugs or humans," he added.
The FBI is leading the investigation into the agent's death, with the
assistance of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.
The last Border Patrol agent to be killed on duty was Robert Rosas, 30, who
was shot to death near Campo in southern California in July 2009. Police
caught the killer, who was subsequently jailed with a 40-year sentence.
Officials: Gunbattle on border leaves agent dead
FROM: The Associated Press ~
A shootout between border patrol agents and bandits in the rugged canyons
near Mexico's border left one officer dead and a suspect injured, a union
official said Wednesday, the latest outburst of violence along the busiest
smuggling corridor into the U.S.
The killing in southeastern Arizona was a stark reminder of the complicated
nature of border security: It was Brian A. Terry's job to turn back illegal
border crossers, but he was apparently killed by bandits who prey on those
"This is a sign that the politicians and bureaucrats are overly optimistic
in their assessment that the borders are more secure now than at any point
in our history," said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol
Council, which represents 17,000 agents.
Terry, 40, was part of a team of officers whose job was to drop into
hotspots, and quell the violence.
The shooting took place about 13 miles north of the border, near Nogales
late Tuesday night, at the bottom of a flat canyon with scattered oak trees
and knee-high grass. Rugged trails through mountains make the spot difficult
Terry was waiting with three other agents when a gun battle with bandits
began, Bonner said.
Terry and the other agents came across a group of five people. There was no
sign that they were hauling drugs, but two were carrying rifles, said Border
Patrol Agent Brandon Judd, president of the local agents' union. Judd said
he did not know what prompted the firefight.
No other agents were injured, but one of the suspects was wounded. Bonner
said the wounded suspect was from Mexico, but the country of origin of the
remaining suspects hasn't been publicly released.
Bonner and Judd said their accounts were based on information they got from
agents in the field.
The Border Patrol and the FBI have refused to confirm the details of
Bonner's account, beyond saying that authorities have four suspects in
custody and are searching for a fifth. At a Border Patrol news conference on
Wednesday, officials released few details.
Bandits have operated at the border for decades, robbing and sexually
assaulting illegal immigrants crossing into the country.
The bandits stake out heavily traveled smuggling paths used by illegal
immigrants and sneak up on them, pointing guns, forcing border-crossers to
the ground and stealing all their valuables. Bandits, however, avoid run-ins
with drug smugglers.
"You won't have much of a life expectancy if you play around with the
cartels," Bonner said.
Terry, a former Marine and Michigan police officer, was part of an elite
squad similar to a police SWAT team that was sent to the remote areas north
of Nogales known for border banditry, drug smuggling and violence.
"His dream all his life was to be a federal agent," Terry's sister, Michelle
Terry-Balogh, 42, told The Associated Press from Flat Rock, Mich., just
"It was always 'I want to be a cop, I want to get the bad guys.'"
After he left the Marine Corps, Terry got a degree in criminal justice and
then worked as a police officer in Ecorse and Lincoln Park, both in
Michigan, she said. Terry joined the Border Patrol three years ago, and
Terry-Balogh said he just loved it.
"It was his life," she said. "He said it was very dangerous but he loved
what he did and wanted to make a difference."
She said Terry had focused all his life on his career, but had recently met
someone special in Michigan and was hoping to have children someday. He also
had planned to fly out Friday for a 10-day visit with his family in
The last time an agent was killed in the line of duty was in September.
Agent Michael Gallagher died in a wreck during a patrol in Arizona.
"It is a stark reminder of the very real dangers our men and women on the
front lines confront every day as they protect our communities and the
American people," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. She
said last October that the border was more secure than ever before.
Napolitano plans to be in Arizona on Thursday and Friday to meet with Border
Patrol agents in Nogales and Tucson.
The shooting occurred in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, the busiest
gateway for illegal immigrants into the United States. Half of the marijuana
seizures along the 1,969-mile southern border are made in the sector, which
covers 262 miles of the boundary.
As the busiest illegal entry point for drugs and immigrants into the U.S.,
Arizona has become the backdrop of the heated immigration debate.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who has criticized the federal government's efforts
to secure the border and signed Arizona's illegal-immigration law this year,
said the killing reminded people of "the threats facing all who serve in
protecting our state and nation."
Way back in the early 1970's they looked at the Mexican border as the
Germans looked at the Eastern Front.
MAINE is VACATIONLAND to them.