SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Highway construction crews doing road work on a highway near the Rio Grande river border with Mexico were shot at by individuals in Mexico on Thursday, authorities said.
“I’m having to at least suspect if nothing else that it was a scare tactic to get them out of the area,” Hudspeth County Chief Deputy Mike Doyle said today.
A total of eight shots were fired. Nobody in the road crew was hurt.
He said the shooting took place near the border town of Ft. Hancock. That area is a hotbed of drug gang violence which has forced hundreds of people who live in the tiny towns that dot the south bank of the Rio Grande to seek sanctuary in the U.S.
Deputies in Hudspeth County say they frequently see fires across the river, as drug gangs burn the homes of residents to clear smuggling routes.
“That particular area where they were working, it has always been an area where we look at pretty hard for smuggling,” Doyle said.
It was in a similar area in Hudspeth County, which is the sparsely populated county just east of El Paso, that a group of men dressed in Mexican Army clothing were seen escorting a shipment of drugs across the river into the U.S. in 2006.
Doyle says the shooting does not appear to have been an accident.
“I can’t imagine eight shots coming into their area while they were working, and someone else being the target,” he said.
He said a vehicle was seen on the Mexican side of the river after the shooting, but nobody got a good look at the gunmen.
Reporting and Writing by Jim Forsyth, Editing by Greg McCune