The large groups of family units and unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to turn themselves over to Border Patrol are some of the easiest ways to see the current crisis, but the problem is multifaceted as the recent shootings in the El Paso Sector exemplify.
In less than a week, different Border Patrol agents were shot at while conducting their regular patrols from people on the Mexican side of the border. Thankfully, the bullets never hit their intended targets, but who is to say the next ones won’t?
There could be a few things motivating the shootings. If the incidents are cartel-related, which they most likely are, it could be a rival cartel trying to “heat up” the plaza so that law enforcement on both sides of the border crackdown on the main cartel controlling the area to make it harder for them to do business.
Speaking with former Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and former Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan, they each said while cross border shootings have happened in the past, it is almost unheard of to have two shootings take place within a week of each other in the same area of one sector.
“Having two [shootings] within a week’s period is a little bit different. I think what it shows you…is how emboldened the cartels have become over the last several months. I think it’s important to remember…is the fact the cartels are making millions of dollars a day, that’s not a week, that’s not a month, a day on this illegal traffic that’s occurring; off of the back of these migrants because of the policies being pursued here in the U.S. by this administration,” said Wolf.
“Any time you attack law enforcement, and you under resource law enforcement and you don’t support law enforcement, you’re going to see crime go up. It’s the same thing with cartels; they know what’s going on…they know that Border Patrol agents are pulled off the line. The human smuggling [organizations] and the cartels, they’re becoming embolden…they’re going to take more risk,” Morgan said.
“It’s not surprising at all that you’re seeing this type of activity,” he added.
Both Morgan and Wolf warned the massive influx of money the cartels are getting from the increase in people paying to illegally cross the border makes the cartels feel not only untouchable in Mexico but the United States as well.
“It emboldens you. If you’re making that type of money and you are trafficking and smuggling humans across the border within sight of Border Patrol, and they’re not doing anything about it because they can’t do anything about it…what does that do day after day, month after month for six months? It emboldens you,” Wolf explained.
Whatever is happening, it is clear someone feels emboldened enough to attempt to kill U.S. law enforcement, and if they do manage to kill a border agent, one can hope the Biden administration has the will to bring the hammer down.