June 09, 2011 11:51 AM
By LAURA B. MARTINEZ, The Brownsville Herald
The Texas Department of Public Safety is reporting a shootout occurred this morning between U.S. law enforcement and a Mexican drug cartel.
The shootout happened as a multi-agency Texas Ranger Recon Operation were attempting to interdict a large drug load along the Rio Grande, the DPS is reporting.
The incident happened in Mission, near the Chimney Park area.
Authorities said three suspected drug runners were injured in the shootout.
A "suspicious" vehicle on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande along with two "cartel drug recovery boats," were spotted by U.S. lawmen.
As three law enforcement patrol boats approached the groups, the came under heavy gunfire from the Mexico side, the DPS said.
Among the agencies involved in the shootout were U.S. Parks and Wildlife, Texas Rangers and the U.S. Border Patrol.
DPS spokeswoman Lisa Block says one agent suffered only minor injuries. Spokeswoman Tela Mange said the agents came under "heavy fire" but would not say how long the ensuing shootout lasted.
Mexican authorities were notified of the abandoned vehicle and boats. They are on the scene.
In a statement, Border Patrol Chief Rosendo Hinojosa said his agents were fired upon and returned fire.
"A multi-agency investigation is currently under way and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Government of Mexico are working closely to determine the complete circumstances of the shooting," Hinojosa said.
"U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas said in a statement, "Despite the repeated assurances of President Obama and Secretary Napolitano that our border is secure, today’s brazen attack on law enforcement provides further evidence for what Texans already know."
"Cartel-related violence along our border is real and escalating, and the Administration cannot continue to deny it when American lives – particularly those of our law enforcement – are directly in harm’s way," Coryn's statement said.
It is not the first time shots have been exchanged along the Texas-Mexico border. Since January of last year, DPS has tracked at least a dozen incidents of shots being fired from Mexico and into Texas, with U.S. officers shooting back in some cases.
No U.S. authorities have been reported hurt in those cases.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)