Mexican cartel members dressed in military-like outfits and toting AK-47 rifles have been taunting U.S. soldiers assigned to the southern border, an unprecedented act of aggression, Texas authorities say.
“What’s been happening actually this past week is we see a group of individuals that are coming across — they’re smuggling people — but what they’re doing is they come across the river into the U.S. and smuggle people, they go back into Mexico, and they get their weapons,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. Christopher Olivarez said during an interview Wednesday.
“These are assault rifles, OK, AK-47s. They’ll stand in the middle of the river, and then they’re brandishing their weapons and taunting the National Guard, who’s across on the U.S. side,” Olivarez said.
Such threats did not occur before this week. Brandon Judd, the Border Patrol union’s national president, said Wednesday that the cartels are profiting more than $400 million each month from smuggling people over the border.
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The Mexican men are always in tactical vests and carry high-powered rifles, said Olivarez, who speaks on behalf of the state troopers assigned to the border as part of Operation Lone Star.
The international boundary is the middle of the river, so the men are not on U.S. soil.
Olivarez said U.S. troops would be allowed to take lethal action, including shooting, to defend themselves “if they make a threat towards National Guard or if they raise that weapon.”
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Earlier this week, several miles away in the city of McAllen, five people were shot during a gun battle that Olivarez said came across the border from the Mexican city of Reynosa and involved Mexican cartel operatives and Mexican officials.