SAN ANTONIO – Suspected drug runners in Mexico began shooting at U.S. law enforcement agents from across the Rio Grande on Thursday, forcing the U.S. officers to return fire and injuring at least three of the suspects on the Mexico side, Texas authorities said.
Few details about the early morning shootout in Hidalgo County were released. The shootout began after U.S. agents patrolling in boats tried to seize a drug load on the Rio Grande, Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said.
Mange said she could not disclose whether any U.S. officers were struck or injured. She said the agents came under "heavy fire" but would not say how long the ensuing shootout lasted.
Mange said details remained guarded for security reasons, but Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Mike Cox said two game wardens were taken to a hospital and treated for cuts and abrasions after being struck with rocks from the Mexican side. The game wardens were in the boats, and the rock-throwing preceded the shooting, Cox said.
Authorities said Mexican officials were notified about two "drug-laden" boats that were abandoned after the shootout.
The U.S. Border Patrol referred questions to the DPS, which used its elite team of Texas Rangers Recon agents in the attempted drug seizure.
It is not the first time shots have been exchanged along the Texas-Mexico border. Since January 2010, DPS has tracked at least a dozen incidents of shots being fired from Mexico and into Texas, with U.S. agents shooting back in some cases.
No U.S. authorities have been reported hurt in those cases.
The most recent prior incident was in May, when Border Patrol agents who overheard a handful of shots saw a person on the Mexico side of the border pointing a handgun at them, according to DPS. The agents fired more than a dozen shots but were unsure if the suspect was hit.