Saturday, January 14, 2006

FBI Warns that Smugglers Target Border Agents

Federal officials have warned U.S. Border Patrol agents that they could be the targets of assassins hired by immigrant smugglers, according to a confidential memo.

"Unidentified Mexican alien smugglers are angry about the increased security along the U.S./Mexico border and have agreed that the best way to deal with U.S. Border Patrol agents is to hire a group of contract killers," the Department of Homeland Security said in a Dec. 21 Officer Safety Alert.

The alert states that the smugglers intend to bring members of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang – known as MS-13 – into the country to perform the killings. Federal officials consider MS-13, with an estimated 30,000 members in 33 states, to be one of the most dangerous gangs in the country. It was formed in Los Angeles by immigrants from El Salvador.

The safety alert was based on an FBI report. An FBI spokesman in Washington said he could not comment on that report.

Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he could not comment directly on the confidential memo but said agents' lives have been threatened before.

"It's no surprise that these smugglers, these criminals, would be threatening our agents," Friel said Monday. "And that would be a huge mistake on their part if they try."

Border Patrol officials say assaults on agents increased significantly during the past year.

source: Associated Press, Jan. 10, 2006

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