Thursday, January 26, 2006

Border Wars

Seriously. John Cole blogged about this story yesterday:

Men in Mexican military-style uniforms crossed the Rio Grande into the United States on a marijuana-smuggling foray, leading to an armed confrontation with Texas law officers, authorities said Tuesday. No shots were fired.

The men retreated and escaped back across the border with much of the pot, though they abandoned more than a half-ton of marijuana as they fled and set fire to one of their vehicles, authorities said.

The Mexican government denied its military was involved.

The confrontation took place Monday and involved three Texas sheriff's deputies, at least two Texas state troopers and at least 10 heavily armed men from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, said Rick Glancey of the Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition.

This is some pretty scary stuff. First because of the use of military uniforms in the operation and second because this escalated into a big gunfight. Today we're at least getting some confirmation that the Mexican military was not, in fact, involved.

Mexico insisted Wednesday that men in Mexican military-style uniforms who crossed the Rio Grande River and sparked an armed confrontation with Texas law officers earlier this week were drug smugglers, not Mexican soldiers.

Mexico’s presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said the FBI supported that view, but he gave no evidence of the claim.

“These were not Mexican soldiers,” Aguilar said at a news conference. “It is known that these are drug traffickers using military uniforms and they were not even regulation military uniforms.”

But there is this little nugget:

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario, Calif., reported Tuesday that the incident included an armed standoff involving the Mexican military and suspected drug smugglers. The incident follows a story in the Bulletin on Jan. 15 that said the Mexican military had crossed into the United States more than 200 times since 1996.

In a news conference, Rick Glancey of the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition, said three Hudspeth County deputies and at least two Texas Department of Public Safety troopers squared off against at least 10 heavily armed men from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

U.S. officials who pursued three fleeing SUVs to the Mexican border saw what appeared to be a Mexican military Humvee help one of the SUVs when it got stuck in the river, he said.

I think both of these people are right. I don't think the Mexican military is officially doing it, but there's some evidence that they're receiving aid from someone in the military. The Humvee and uniforms didn't come from thin air. There's a chance they could be stolen, or any number of other things, but it clearly doesn't look good. If these incidents continue, as they do apparently have precedent, the politics of immigration is only going to heat up and be evermore important in 2008.