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Ecuadorian man arrested after hitting BP agent 'several times'

A 37-year-old man from Ecuador was arrested Wednesday evening after he allegedly assaulted a U.S. Border Patrol agent on a remote mountain trail near Patagonia, authorities said. 

Agents from the Sonoita Station were tracking a group of people suspected of being in the country without authorization near Lone Mountain outside of Patagonia, about 47 miles southwest of Tucson, when they came across three men. As agents attempted to apprehend them, a man in the group struck a Border Patrol agent "several times," said Rob Daniels, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

"The man fought the agent for several minutes, even as they both slid down a hillside," said Daniels. "After several minutes, additional agents were able to aid in handcuffing the man and ending the struggle." 

Both the agent and the Ecuadorian man were evaluated by medical personnel, and both declined further medical attention, he said. 

The Ecuadorian man is facing charges for assaulting a federal agent, Daniels said. 

The other two men, identified only as Mexican nationals, were also arrested and will face charges for violating immigration law, Daniels said. 

The agency has not released figures for the current fiscal year on the number of assaults or the number of times that agents used force. However, statistics from the agency show that assaults have declined six percent from 2017 to 2018, even as the time that agents used force increased from 398 incidents to 462. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

A Border Patrol vehicle patrolling outside of Naco, Arizona.