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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