Agents Put on High Alert After IEDs Found Near US-Mexico Border: Report

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
December 15, 2023Border Security
Agents Put on High Alert After IEDs Found Near US-Mexico Border: Report
A car drives alongside the border fence at the U.S.-Mexico border in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2023. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has warned agents in an internal security memo to be on high alert after the Mexican military seized nearly a dozen improvised explosive devices (IED) near the border, according to a report.

Mexican authorities found the IEDs after a Tucson border patrol agent reported gunshots near the border, leading to the arrest of an individual on the U.S. side of the border armed with an AK-47, according to Fox News.

Law enforcement sources also provided the outlet with an internal officer safety alert bearing the date Dec. 13, 2023, which reportedly warned border patrol agents to “exercise extreme caution” and “report any possible armed subjects approaching the border with possible explosive devices.”

A CBP spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the agency “cannot comment on the information contained in leaked communications” but added that sectors routinely provide officer safety alerts to agents to notify them of potential dangers in the field and “remind them to maintain their vigilance.”

The spokesperson confirmed that on Dec. 13, Tucson border patrol agents encountered an armed individual on the U.S. side of the border, who “lowered his weapon to the ground and gestured to the Mexico side of the boundary, where multiple additional armed subjects were located.” Multiple aircraft and special operations agents responded to the scene, with the spokesperson adding that no injuries were reported on the U.S. side of the border.

This is not the first time there have been reports of explosive devices found near the U.S.-Mexico border, while the FBI recently expressed “great concern” that some people crossing the border illegally may pose a terror threat.

NTD Photo
A border patrol agent drives at high speeds to track smugglers along the United States border wall in Jacumba, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

IEDs In Border Areas

At the end of October, a group of Republican senators who toured the border area said that some illegal border crossers were caught carrying explosives that seemed designed for terror attacks.

Later, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sounded the alarm on the potential national security threat posed by bomb-carrying drones near the border.

“These drones are used by the cartels to carry out targeted assassinations and violent attacks by dropping explosives in Mexico, monitor and gain reconnaissance on the movements of U.S. Border Patrol agents and other U.S. law enforcement officers, and track the progress of their smugglers illegally crossing into the United States,” Mr. Grassley wrote in a letter to law enforcement agencies.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers in a November server that, while the terrorism threat has been elevated through the whole of 2023, the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war “raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level.”

Mr. Wray added at the time that the agency’s most pressing worry was that homegrown violent extremists would draw inspiration from the Hamas terror attack on Israeli civilians and carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives.

NTD Photo
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, on Dec. 5, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Barrasso, one of the four senators who traveled to the southern border at the end of October, told a press conference in Washington that the IEDs that were found by law enforcement agents along the border were the “size of cannonballs.”

John Darko, vice president of product development at Inert Products, a Pennsylvania-based company that provides training aids to the military and police, wrote in a recent post on LinkedIn that the use of IEDs by Mexican drug cartels has been a growing concern for law enforcement agencies.

“The cartels have been known to use tactics and techniques like those used by terrorist organizations such as ISIS,” he wrote, adding that Mexican cartels also often use car bombs that can be remotely detonated and use IEDs in booby traps to protect drug stashes or target law enforcement officials.

“Furthermore, the cartels have been known to use drones to drop IEDs,” Mr. Darko continued, noting that this is a tactic that lets them carry out attacks from a distance and avoid the risk of confrontation with rival cartels or law enforcement.

“In addition to these tactics, Mexican drug cartels have also been known to use tunnels to transport and deploy IEDs. These tunnels, which often run under the U.S.-Mexico border, allow the cartels to move their explosives undetected,” Mr. Darko wrote, adding that the use of IEDs by Mexican cartels represents a serious threat to law enforcement and civilians.

Besides the threat posed by the use of weaponized drones by Mexican cartels near the border, there has also been an explosion in the number of people arrested crossing the border illegally whose names appear on the terrorist watchlist.

In fiscal year 2023, there were 169 people whose names appear on the terrorist watchlist who were arrested trying to cross the southern border, an all-time record.

NTD Photo
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents detain a camouflaged family from Mexico after they had illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border near Naco, Arizona, on Nov. 4, 2022. (John Moore/Getty Images)

‘Close the Border Down’

Republicans have blamed President Joe Biden’s policies for fueling the border crisis.

During his first 100 days in office, President Biden took dozens of executive actions on immigration, including ordering a halt to the construction of the border wall.

The latest data from CBP shows that October marked the thirty-second straight month where illegal immigrant encounters were higher than even the highest month seen under former President Donald Trump.

Many Republicans see illegal border crossings as one of the country’s most pressing issues, while polling shows that for Democrats, it’s of relatively low priority.

Biden administration officials have been reluctant to call the situation along the border a “crisis,” while White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has accused Republicans of turning the border issue into a “political stunt.”

Some Democrats do view it as a major problem, however. One of these is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the seriousness of the problem is gravely.

“For any Democrat—or anybody—to say it’s not in jeopardy right now … we have to close our borders down. We’ve got to control the borders,” Mr. Manchin said.

Mr. Hannity expressed national security concerns relating to the border crisis—singling out the threat of terrorism.

“I am 100 percent certain that we have—because those borders have been wide open—terror cells now in this country,” Mr. Hannity said before asking Mr. Manchin if he agreed.

“I’m as concerned as you are,” the West Virginia senator replied. “Our borders are a mess.”

*This article has been updated with comments received from CBP.

From The Epoch Times

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