Drug Smugglers Shoot Three CBP Agents, Killing One, Near Puerto Rico Coast

Three Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents were shot, including one fatally, on Thursday morning in an encounter with suspected drug traffickers off the shores of Puerto Rico. According to a press release issued by the CBP:

“On Nov. 17, at approximately 8:00 AM, three CBP Marine Interdiction Agents were involved in an exchange of gunfire with individuals on board a suspected smuggling vessel upon approach 14 miles off the coast of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.”

Initial reports stated that five CBP agents were shot. However, that information was amended afterward. The two smugglers were also shot, and one of them died. The Cabo Rojo region is known as an important drug-trafficking route.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged the agent's death during testimony before a Senate committee on Thursday morning.

“Ranking Member (Rob) Portman mentioned the tragic loss of one of our front-line personnel. Several others were gravely wounded. These are brave members of our air and marine operations within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so the difficulty of this job cannot be compared to the difficulty that our frontline personnel face every day. And their bravery and selfless service should be recognized.”

As per the New York Times:

“Limary Cruz-Rubio, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I.’s San Juan field office, said the shooting was being investigated as an assault on a federal officer. She asked for anyone with information about the shooting to contact the authorities and said the bureau’s evidence response team was responding to the scene.”

Much attention is paid to our border with Mexico. This week’s tragedy is an excellent reminder of the risks that our law-enforcement officers face in fighting drugs across the Caribbean.

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