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Mexico arrests 2 in agents' shooting

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

From Wire Reports
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 8:28 p.m.
 

PHOENIX — Mexican troops arrested two men on Wednesday suspected of involvement in the killing of a Border Patrol agent fatally shot in Arizona while responding to a tripped ground sensor, Mexican security officials said.

The agent who died was among three who were patrolling on foot about 5 miles north of the international border when gunfire erupted well before daybreak on Tuesday. A second agent was wounded while the third, a woman, was unharmed. The wounded agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks and released from the hospital on Wednesday after undergoing surgery.

The agents involved in the incident had been patrolling in an area near the border town of Naco, well-known as a corridor for smuggling, and the Cochise County Sheriff's department has said that tracks were found heading south after the shooting.

The two suspects detained in Mexico were arrested in a Mexican military operation in the city of Agua Prieta, in Mexico's northern Sonora state, a few miles from the spot where Nicholas Ivie, 30, was killed, a Mexican Army officer, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

A Mexican police official in Naco, across the border from the Arizona town of the same name, confirmed the arrests, which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday.

The killing marked the fourth death of a Border Patrol agent in a violent confrontation in Arizona in less than two years and reignited concerns about border security in a state that is already at the forefront of the national immigration debate.

The violence drew sharp words from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a vocal foe of President Obama's administration on immigration. She said it should lead to anger over “the federal failure and political stalemate that has left our border unsecured and our Border Patrol in harm's way.” Authorities on the United States side of the border combed rugged terrain looking for clues into the shooting near Naco, which remains a smuggling corridor despite the construction of a tall, steel fence along the border.

“We're still out there collecting evidence,” said Brenda Nath, a Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman in Phoenix, declining to say what had been found so far.

Cochise County Sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas could not immediately comment on the arrests in Mexico, saying that she had not received any information about them. Nath also declined to comment on word of the arrests.

Ivie, a border agent since 2008, was found dead at the scene.

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