Border Patrol agents along the Rio Grande Valley have reported violent attacks from drug smugglers who have fought back, rather than retreated, when caught, television station KRGV
The incidents of ramped-up violence stand in stark contrast to federal government reports, which suggest the border is under much better control.
Two agents told KRGV they were attacked with rocks, with one sustaining a direct hit to his face that broke the bone around his eye and left him recovering from multiple reconstructive surgeries.
That agent, Randy De Leon, caught a contingent of 10 to 15 drug mules loading about 1,000 pounds of drugs into a vehicle. He chased them to the Rio Grande River, hoping they'd get out and flee. Instead, they picked up concrete rocks placed along the banks to prevent erosion and began to hurl them at him.
"I'm getting attacked from both sides. … It's like a massive hail storm," he told KRGV.
The chunks of concrete smashed his own vehicle's windows. One piece the size of the football hit his hat and then one side of his face, shattering it and causing him to nearly lose an eye.
"I can feel the blood rushing down my face. I can't see out of this eye. It's like blurry and my head's ringing. And I'm just wiping the blood off of my hand and my face," De Leon told KRGV for a special news report about border violence in his territory. "And I'm chasing the vehicle, and I'm putting on the radio that I need backup immediately."
Unaware of his injuries and struggling to stay conscious as fellow agents helped him get to an ambulance, De Leon asked how bad he was hurt. Hoping not to scare him, one told him, "'It's just a, it's just a scratch. It's a cut,'" De Leon remembered.
But the bone that holds up his eye was shattered.
Border Patrol agents report an increase in the number of people smuggled across from Mexico into Texas, many trapped inside vehicles only to be apprehended at checkpoints, El Paso TV station KVUE
Dogs working at highway checkpoints have helped border agents find the hidden cargo. KVUE said that Rio Grande Valley incidents are rising, with 49 smuggled immigrants found in one 24-hour period in April. Some have suffocated on their journey, traveling in trunks, in stereo compartments and even sewn into car seats.
KVUE said about 30,000 vehicles enter from El Paso county alone each day, with smugglers using such heavy traffic as cover to slip into the U.S.
Even as agents decry the violence and increasing flow, federal authorities report that border arrests have slowed, down 31 percent since October, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the Houston Chronicle
Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is skeptical about the federal figures and has requested a 2016-17 budget of $735 million, more than double the previous budget directed toward border security, the Chronicle said.
Said Abbott spokeswoman Amelia Chasse: "The federal government's abject failure to secure the border has forced Texas to step up and divert taxpayer funds and law enforcement resources to perform what is a core responsibility of the federal government.
"With Texas continuing to spend millions in taxpayer dollars and cartel and gang activity posing a constant threat to Texas communities, it is egregious for the Obama administration to even remotely suggest the border is secure."
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