House Republicans Want Mexican Military Incursions Explained

Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Friday, January 27, 2006

House Republicans Want Mexican Military Incursions Explained

( - Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security have sent letters to top Mexican and U.S. officials, requesting information about recent incursions into the United States by members of the Mexican military.

Press reports say heavily armed Mexicans, dressed in military uniforms, have been spotted on the U.S. side of the border -- apparently escorting illegal drug convoys.

The U.S. Border Patrol recently warned agents in Arizona about such incursions and potential confrontations.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), along with Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), and Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) announced on Friday that they have asked Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Carlos de Icaza to explain what's going on.

They've also written to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, asking them to investigate and report back to Congress.

"This is yet another example of the clear security problems we face along our southwest border," King said in a press release. "These episodes further illustrate the need for comprehensive border security reform."

Rep. Rogers said reports of incursions and armed confrontations involving members of the Mexican military "make a mockery of our border security efforts. We need to know why this is happening, and we need to know now."

McCaul expressed concern about individuals in Mexican military uniforms helping drug smugglers cross the border. He pointed to a recent press report saying that law enforcement officers on the U.S. side observed Mexican military humvees equipped with .50 caliber weapons escorting drug traffickers back into Mexico to provide them safe haven.

"Regardless of the true source of these incursions, the Mexican government must not evade its responsibility to help us stop illegal activity on the border," Rep. Pearce said. "I hope that this letter will lead to a more productive partnership toward that goal."

The Republicans said they expect the House Committee on Homeland Security to hold hearings on the reported military incursions.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there have been 231 such incursions since 1996, an average of more than 28 per year, the Republicans said.

"This is an issue that deserves the attention of Secretary Rice and Secretary Chertoff," King said. "And the Senate needs to follow the House's lead in passing a border security measure that will help bring episodes such as these to an end."

The Washington Times last week quoted Rafael Laveaga, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, as "strongly" denying that any Mexican military personnel have been crossing into the United States.

"The Mexican military is a well-respected institution with strict rules on how to control Northern Mexico. It maintains a protocol of not going within a mile of the border, and those who would trespass would be severely punished," Laveaga said.

He suggested that drug smugglers may be dressing in uniforms and driving military-type vehicles to confuse U.S. authorities, but many in the United States aren't buying that explanation.

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