Cartels threaten to kill Texas Rangers, ICE agents

A new law enforcement bulletin warns that members of drug cartels have been overheard plotting to kill federal agents and Texas Rangers who guard the border, officials in Washington reported Thursday.

The bulletin, which was issued in March, said cartel members planned to use AK-47 assault rifles to shoot agents and Rangers from across the border. It did not name the cartels.

The information was released at a hearing before a panel of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management addressed “The U.S. Homeland Security Role in the Mexican War Against the Drug Cartels.”

U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, talked briefly about the bulletin at the hearing. He said this and other findings he cited “are acts of terrorism as defined by law. The shooting of Special Agent Zapata and Avila is a game changer, which alters the landscape of United State’s involvement in Mexico’s war against drug cartels.”

He was referring to Jaime Jorge Zapata, 32, a Brownsville native and special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who was killed on Feb. 15 while on duty in Mexico. Injured in the same attack was Special Agent Victor Avila. Members of the Zetas criminal organization are suspected in the attack.

Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Thursday in a statement: “DPS constantly keeps our officers and our law enforcement partners informed of any intelligence that suggests possible threats to their safety. However, we cannot comment on specific law enforcement bulletins.”

In a response to the threats, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we routinely share information that could impact our frontline personnel in order to ensure that they are aware of any and all threats.”

The news comes at time when ICE reportedly is having a difficult time recruiting agents willing to work in Mexico, said Luis Alvarez, assistant director for ICE International Affairs, who testified at the hearing.

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Mexico: 13 Dead in Massacre at Ciudad Juarez Party

Gunmen stormed two homes and massacred 13 young partygoers in the latest large-scale attack in this violent border city, even as a new government strategy seeks to restore order with social programs and massive police deployments.

Attackers in two vehicles pulled up to the houses in a lower-middle-class neighborhood late Friday and opened fire on about three dozen youths attending a party. The dead identified so far were 16 to 25 years old, the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office said Saturday in a statement. Fifteen were wounded, including a 9-year-old boy.

Police found 70 bullet casings from assault weapons typically used by drug gangs whose bloody turf battles have killed more than 2,000 people this year in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The attackers escaped, and police said they had no immediate information on any suspects or possible motive.

Ciudad Juarez has become one of the world’s deadliest cities amid a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels, which frequently go after each other in mass attacks on bars, drug rehab centers and parties.

Some have resulted in apparently innocent people being killed, either because someone else at a gathering was the target or gunmen simply had the wrong address.

Most recently, attackers stormed two homes on Oct. 17, killing seven at a party and two more in another house nearby.

Read More here.

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