Friday, 16 March 2012

Gunfight at Mexican Border Forces Unusual Crossing Closures

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On Wednesday, March 14, reported that gun battles between Mexican military and Mexican drug traffickers caused U.S. authorities to shut down two international crossings in Texas. The two bridges form the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry in Eagle Pass (county seat of Maverick County) Texas, about 140 miles southwest of San Antonio. They connect the city to Piedras Negras in the Mexican border state of Coahuila. The Eagle Pass Business Journal (EPBJ) reported that traffickers used high-powered automatic weapons, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades.

The cnsnews report came eight days after the shutdown, which began at 9 p.m. on March 6 and lasted until 8 a.m. the next day. Douglas Mosier, CBP spokesman in El Paso could not provide details on which government agency ordered the shutdown, but Mexican media reported that the U.S. State Department ordered the bridge closings. A different report from the EPBJ article claims the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was responsible for the closing. Surprisingly, southbound traffic into Mexico was stopped, but northbound traffic from Mexico continued, albeit rerouted across another bridge, until the following morning when traffic resumed.

Eagle Pass Police Chief Tony Castañeda was quoted by cnsnews about the armed criminals: “This is not out of the norm. There have been several gun battles going on here with the narcotics traffickers for quite some time. But it's never gotten to this magnitude where they close bridges.”

Both U.S. and Mexican media reported that drug traffickers established a road block about a quarter mile from one bridge by using a flaming 18-wheeler. At least six Mexican military members were wounded in the ensuing battle and, according to, a police officer was killed.

Mosier stated in an e-mail that the bridge closings came “in response to violent activity occurring in Piedras Negras and as per coordination between the Government of Mexico, the Eagle Pass Police Department and the Maverick County Sheriff's Department. CBP has protocols in place to handle these types of situations and enacted those protocols in response to this incident. Our primary concern is for the safety of the traveling public and the safety of our officers.”

Just a month earlier, the CBP seized a cache of ammo at the Eagle Pass port of entry and, in a separate incident, a large supply of currency. Although border violence continues along the largely unsecured U.S./Mexico border, critics say incidents have often gone unreported or been eclipsed by America’s presidential candidate news.

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