PHOENIX — A new report alleged that the Mexican military could be working in partnership with a drug cartel along the Arizona border.
According to the report from BuzzFeed, authorities were tipped off about the possible collaboration after a Border Patrol agent encountered two armed men dressed in Mexican military fatigues who had illegally crossed the border on Jan. 26 near Sasabe, Ariz.
Within minutes a border patrol agent confronted the two men. Weapons were drawn. Asked for identification, the two men provided their names — which didn’t correspond with the names on their uniforms. After a brief, tense standoff, the two men retreated back across the border just as reinforcements were arriving.
The men said they were part of Mexico’s 80th Battalion. American calls to the Mexican military were not returned.
While forces from each country have crossed the border in pursuit of a suspect, those instances are rare and agents said they did not see anyone cross the border ahead of the two men in fatigues.
In a January letter to the head of Customs and Border Protection about the incident, Sen. Tom Coburn asked if the agency has “concerns that some members of the Mexican Military could be providing security and/or intelligence to Drug Trafficking Organizations.” The Sinaloa Cartel, widely considered one of the world’s most powerful drug syndicates, operates along the Sasabe stretch of the border.
Coburn wrote a letter after the incident requesting more information from the Border Patrol. He has not received a response.
Numerous agencies did not return BuzzFeed’s requests for comment.