He's found after shootout between Mexican troops and smugglers.
By Jason Buch and Lynn Brezosky
Residents near the small border town of La Rosita reported helicopters circling Tuesday afternoon as law enforcement officials searched for a man shot in Mexico who fled to the U.S.
The wounded man was apparently a drug smuggler fleeing a confrontation between traffickers and Mexican troops responding to a call from U.S. Border Patrol agents, authorities said.
Sheriff Rene Fuentes said agents found a man in his mid-30s with gunshot wounds to the neck, leg and shoulder.
“The Mexican military actually got into it with some dope dealers, some cartel members,” Fuentes said. “One of the suspects made it across the river with multiple gunshot wounds. But it occurred in Mexico.”
The wounded man is a Starr County resident who was in the U.S. illegally and has prior arrests, he said. He was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive, Fuentes said.
There was no indication anyone else had crossed into the U.S., he said.
Border Patrol agents patrolling in the La Rosita area ran across smugglers with a load of narcotics near the Rio Grande at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, said supervisory agent Rosalinda Huey.
The traffickers fled back across the river, and agents called Mexican authorities to alert them, Huey said. She would not comment about what happened on the Mexican side of the river.
The incident brought swarms of local and federal law enforcement to a rural intersection near La Rosita, a small community between Rio Grande City and Roma where residents can sometimes hear the gunfights in Mexico.
Porfirio Alaniz, a tire repair shop owner, said the response, which included both U.S. and Mexican helicopters circling overhead, raised fears among local residents that dangerous cartel operatives had escaped to this side and Border Patrol and police were looking for them.
“That's what we thought was going on,” he said. “If they get into a battle with the cartels, that's going to be something. But right now it was just the random smugglers.”
Staff Writer Lynn Brezosky contributed to this report from La Rosita.