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Border shooting of teen spurs outrage in Mexico

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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.

By The Los Angeles Times
Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 9:26 p.m.
 

MEXICO CITY — The fatal shooting of a teenager suspected of throwing rocks at U.S. Border Patrol agents has prompted strong condemnations from Mexican officials and human rights groups amid a sharp increase in agent-involved killings along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The suspected smuggler was shot on Wednesday night by agents after they ordered a group of youths near downtown Nogales, Mexico, to stop throwing rocks, according to U.S. officials. Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, died at the scene from several bullet wounds, according to Mexican authorities in the state of Sonora, across the border from Arizona.

Under agency guidelines, repelling rock attacks with bullets can be regarded as a justifiable use of force in part because rocks have inflicted serious injuries on agents. But critics have grown increasingly vocal at the frequency of such incidents and what they call a lack of transparency in follow-up investigations. Wednesday's confrontation was the third incident since September; at least 15 civilians have died in agent-involved confrontations since 2010.

“The disproportionate use of lethal force in the exercise of immigration control functions is unacceptable under any circumstances,” the Mexican Ministry of Exterior Relations said.

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