Shots fired in drug bust in desert; FBI investigating

Shots fired in drug bust in desert; FBI investigating

Shots fired in drug bust in desert; FBI investigating

by Astrid Galvan / Associated Press
April 22, 2016 via The Arizona Republic

An 18-year-old drug-smuggling suspect wasn’t injured when a U.S. Border Patrol agent fired two shots at him during an encounter Tuesday in the southern Arizona desert.

The FBI and a Customs and Border Protection internal review board are investigating the incident, which took place on Tohono O’odham land southwest of Tucson.

Tucson Sector spokesman Matthew Eisenhauer said the encounter unfolded shortly after 4 p.m., when agents who had been tracking a trio of smugglers carrying marijuana bundles attempted to make an arrest.

One of the smugglers, an 18-year-old Honduran who has previously been deported, ran away and was chased by an agent. The suspect stopped, picked up rocks from the ground and threw them at the agent while making verbal threats, Eisenhauer said.

The Border Patrol has not named the man or the agent. The agent is a 12-year veteran who has been placed on standard administrative leave.

Eisenhauer said rocks can seriously injure or even kill agents.

“Any type of projectile can be used to incapacitate or seriously maim or injure,” he said.

The agent fired two shots at the man but missed. The man was arrested along with two other suspected smugglers.

Agents seized 247 pounds of marijuana following the arrest.

Border Patrol data released this month shows that use of force by agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers has been on the decline.

Civil rights groups say that agents resort to using force too quickly, especially in cases involving rock-throwers.

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