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Attack on Arizona border patrol agent highlights dangers along the border

CBS News logo CBS News 6/14/2018 Mireya Villarreal
a man standing in front of a mountain: 180612-twitter-us-border-patrol-generic.png © Twitter/Customs and Border Protection Arizona 180612-twitter-us-border-patrol-generic.png

LOS ANGELES -- A U.S. Border Patrol agent is in stable condition after being shot several times at close range Tuesday, border patrol said. In a desolate part of southern Arizona near the Mexican border, the lone agent was investigating activity picked up by sensors, and was ambushed just before dawn.

"The agent was attacked by an unknown number of assailants, one of whom fired several shots at the agent in close proximity," said Chief Rodolfo Karisch.

The 21-year veteran is also a trained paramedic, and treated his own gunshot wounds in the field.

Jim Chilton, who owns land nearby, says it's often used by drug cartels.

"We're undoubtedly being watched right now by the Sinaloa cartel scouts," he told us.

According to the FBI, the number of assaults on agents averages 428 per year. But under a new reporting policy, U.S. Border Patrol says that number is dramatically higher. They multiply all the variables, so a 2017 incident in south Texas, involving six suspects, seven agents and three kinds of weapons, was reported as 126 assaults.

Despite the reporting differences, agents along the Arizona border say the threat is real.

Several people were picked up near the shooting scene and are being held on immigration violations. But so far, they have not been connected with the shooting of the agent.

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