ARIZONA-MEXICO Smugglers attack Border Patrol agents with rocks
More enforcement along illegal entry points is causing violent reactions.
PHOENIX (AP) -- As the U.S. Border Patrol steps up surveillance along the Arizona-Mexico border, smugglers are getting more desperate and agents say they are the victims of a dramatic increase in violence involving rocks and vehicles.
Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame said there have been about the same number of assaults this year as there were at this time in 2003, but the degree of violence is significantly higher.
Smugglers have been ramming Border Patrol vehicles with their cars and chasing down agents while driving or on foot. There also has been a rise in smugglers attacking agents with softball-sized rocks to divert their attention away from border crossers.
"We're not talking about the rocks you throw at the lake or around the neighborhood as a kid," said Border Patrol spokesman Rob Daniels. "We're talking about big, honking rocks."
Adame said smugglers are losing money as enforcement is beefed up in Arizona, the busiest illegal entry point along the 2,000-mile border. "They're starting to see some losses," he said. "And when you talk financial gain with smugglers and the loss of it, they're going to react violently."
The most serious rock-throwing incidents result in agents losing consciousness and blood, and requiring hospital and recovery time.
Steve McPartland, a Border Patrol agent in California, said he can't count the number of times he has been attacked with rocks. The most memorable of those times, though, was three years ago when a group of illegal immigrants trying to cross in Douglas, Ariz., threw dozens of rocks at him at once.
"I was absolutely terrified," he said. "You're just thinking, 'God, I hope the other guys get here quick.'"