Border Patrol fires pepper balls in confrontation with Mexico swimmers in Rio Grande

Tuesday, August 13, 2019
By Paul Martin

Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
Aug. 13, 2019

U.S. Border Patrol agents fired pepper ball shots at swimmers in the Rio Grande during a confrontation Sunday evening on the El Paso-Juárez border.

A Border Patrol spokesman said agents fired the non-lethal rounds after a security guard from the International Boundary and Water Commission was allegedly assaulted by a group throwing rocks.

Juárez families regularly use that portion of the Rio Grande for recreational swimming in summers when the river is flowing with water.

The confrontation occurred as dozens of Mexican families with children were playing in the river across the border near the old Asarco site in El Paso.

A cellphone video showed at least a half-dozen Border Patrol agents on U.S. soil confronting more than a dozen swimmers in the water on the U.S. edge of the river.

The video was shared on the YouTube page of La Polaka, a tabloid news website.

El Mexicano newspaper reported that a confrontation began when a guard told swimmers not to be crossing the middle of the river to the U.S. side. Swimmers were trying to dive from the U.S. side into the river.

Agents responded to a report by a guard for the International Boundary and Water Commission saying that he had been assaulted, Border Patrol spokesman Agent Ramiro Cordero said.

The six-minute video shows Border Patrol SUVs rushing to the scene and agents standing on land while the swimmers remain in the water. The tall metal border fence is visible a few yards behind the agents.

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