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B.P. agents face danger Group offers $10,000 bounty for patrolman's death

BY ROBERT GARCIA
Laredo Morning Times staff writer
June 6, 2000

A proposed reward of $10,000 for the murder of a U. S. Border Patrol agent is being taken seriously by Laredo Sector agents who are on a heightened state of awareness. The calls for a bounty also brought reaction from a U.S. senator who wants Mexico, "to block any provocations." The job of patrolling the Rio Grande area and nearby ranches took a new dimension for agents Monday after a Reynosa Mexican activist proposed setting up a $10,000 reward for anyone who would kill an agent.

Assistant Border Patrol Chief George Gunnoe said, "our stand is that any threat that is made is taken seriously." The latest verbal assault comes from Carlos Ibarra Perez; president of a group called Citizens Defense Committee located in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Perez wants his 5,000 members to donate $2 each to raise the money for the Border Patrol bounty. In Washington, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison reacted to the bounty reports. "I condemn this bounty on U.S. Border Patrol agents who risk their own lives every day to protect American and Mexican citizens," Hutchison said.

Hutchison called on the Mexican government to react to the verbal attack. "Threats against U.S. Border Patrol agents make the border more dangerous for everyone," she said.

Gunnoe said that since 1986 Laredo Border Patrol agents have seen a more dangerous and life-threatening attitude from Mexicans and occasional random shots at them from the Mexican side is nothing new. However, if anyone fires on the agents, they have the jurisdiction to return fire, even into Mexico.

"Our agents have the basic rules of engagement for self-defense, in defense of their partner or third party regardless of where the shots are coming from," he said. While trying not to give the Mexican group too much credibility and draw attention to them, which is what he believes they are seeking, Gunnoe said "How would anyone risk going to jail for life for two dollars?"

Gunnoe said their agents have always been exposed to danger. "This (threat) only gives them a heightened state of awareness. They should keep a good eye towards the south side," Gunnoe said. Unlike the reputation of the Border Patrol along the Mexico-Arizona border, in Texas things are not that confrontational, he said.

"Our agents are very well prepared and very well equipped with cameras, sensors and weaponry," he said. Currently the Laredo sector has 770 agents, he added.