Border agent assaulted, 2 suspected drug scouts arrested over Memorial Day weekend
Two men were arrested by Border Patrol agents Sunday during an operation targeting scouts working for drug smugglers in the mountains outside of Casa Grande. One of the men assaulted a Border Patrol agent during his apprehension, authorities said.
Members of the Mountain Team assigned to the Casa Grande station launched their operation around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, targeting a hilltop observation post in the Sawtooth Mountain Range, roughly 10 miles south of Casa Grande, said Tucson Sector Border Patrol's public affairs office.
As the team approached the observation post, one man tried to flee, but ran into an agent and attacked him. The men engaged in a struggle, and the agent used pepper spray, eventually subduing the man with other agents.
The man was identified only as a Mexican national, and will be charged with assault on a federal officer and conspiracy to smuggle drugs, said Border Patrol.
A second man suspected of being a scout was also apprehended. The man, identified only as a Mexican national has an active felony warrant for homicide in Mexico, said the agency. He will also be charged with conspiracy to smuggle drugs.
Agents seized a wealth of equipment used by scouts to relay the movements of law enforcement at the site, including four solar panels, two pairs of binoculars, eight cell phones, two radios, as well as chargers for the radios.
The scouts are "hired by criminal organizations to work from hilltop outposts, guiding human and narcotic smugglers," said the agency.
This was the third assault on an agent by men suspected of working as scouts in Tucson Sector in the past two months, said Border Patrol.
According to statistics released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol agents have been assaulted 148 times in the last year, down 21 percent from the year before. CBP did not breakdown statistics at the sector level, however, in Tucson Sector's public affairs office said that in the 2015 fiscal year, agents were assaulted 87 times.