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DIGGING DEEPER: Border agent assaults

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TUCSON – Two border patrol agents recently patrolling in Southern Arizona were assaulted.

One incident happened near Lukeville, Ariz. and another incident near Whetstone, Ariz.

Both men involved in these incidents were arrested and will face federal assault charges.

The wide open desert is where most of the assaults take place.  Often times, it's in the middle of nowhere and agents have to fend for themselves.

“People don't understand, you are out there by yourself, you don't know how close you're back up is you don't know what kind of weapon the other individual may have.  It's not a routine...nothing is a routine stop,” said Art Del Cueto, union president of local 2544.

There's danger and uncertainty for agents who work to secure our southern border.

Lately, it seems there's been incidents where agents are being attacked by people committing crimes.

Whether the federal agents are on bike patrol or out in the middle of nowhere, they're getting assaulted.

The latest numbers from Customs and Border Protection show that nationwide from 2017 to 2018, there was a 17 percent increase in incidents involving border patrol agents.

Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council and president of the Local 2544 knows first-hand what the men and women who've been assaulted are going through.

Del Cueto was in a situation a few years ago when he was working on the Tohono O'odham reservation and apprehending two individuals.

“He threw I guess it was a 40 oz. Bottle of beer but it was empty but they filled it with mud and rocks,” said Del Cueto.

They never knew who attacked him, however, now when agents are getting attacked, it's a different story.

“What you're seeing is a lot of the assaults that have occurred, they're actually going on some type of prosecution against the individual that attacks the Border Patrol agent,” said Del Cueto.

Despite the fact that more criminals who assault agents are being prosecuted, the threat is still very real and it's something that is always on the agents mind.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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