INS Agent Killed in Fresno Shoot-Out With Smugglers
A federal agent was shot to death and his partner was wounded as they tried to arrest four illegal alien smuggling suspects early today, police said.
Officers sealed off a residential neighborhood near the shooting scene in the parking lot of a service station-convenience store and arrested the suspects one by one, with the last taken into custody shortly after dawn.
The downed agents were members of a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service anti-smuggling unit who had arranged to meet with the suspects in the parking lot, authorities said.
“Contact had already been made, and they were in the process of making the arrests when the shots were fired,” said J. William Carter, chief U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Carter said the undercover agents posing as employers first contacted the suspects Saturday through an informant and set up a meeting for Tuesday night when they were to pay cash in exchange for undocumented workers.
After the suspects opened fire, the wounded agent was able to fire back, Carter said. It was unknown whether any of the suspects were hit.
Carter said the dead agent was a 17-year veteran. Both he and his partner, who was listed in critical but stable condition at a hospital, were based in Fresno.
After the federal officers were shot, two backup agents exchanged fire with the suspects, Police Sgt. Rene Martin said. Two suspects then fled in their car and two ran away, added Sgt. Jerry Dyer.
The vehicle was abandoned a couple of blocks away. A woman was found hiding less than an hour after the 1:40 a.m. shootings, and two other suspects were captured by 5 a.m. The final suspect was dragged out of a side yard around 7 a.m., witnesses reported. One of the four who was arrested was the informant who had tipped agents to the smuggling operation, Carter said.