Playing Beanbag In Mexico


Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and a team of fellow agents were patrolling Peck Canyon, on the Mexican border with Arizona, on the night of December 14, 2010.  The team was on the trail of bandits who had been preying on illegal immigrants.  Peck Canyon is a hotspot for smuggling activity.

Shortly before midnight, the team spotted a party of armed men crossing the border illegally.  Their weapons included AK-47 assault rifles.  The Border Patrol agents ordered these men to drop their weapons, but they refused.

Agent Terry’s team reacted to the invaders’ refusal to disarm by firing bean bags at them.

The invaders returned fire with hot lead, killing Agent Brian Terry.  The Border Patrol switched to live ammunition, and killed one of the alien gunmen in the resulting firefight.

The government has strenuously denied that Border Patrol agents were instructed to use non-lethal weapons first.  HSToday, the in-house newsletter of the Department of Homeland Security, ran a piece on December 30 that dismissed talk of bean bag guns as “increasingly bizarre Internet-fueled rumors.”  An official from Customs and Border Protection issued a statement “to assist in dispelling the rumor.” 

The piece goes out of its way to slam former Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado for keeping the bean bag story alive.  Tancredo maintains that “[Homeland Security secretary] Napolitano and Border Patrol management are trying to hide” the fact that Agent Terry and his team were “under standing orders to always use non-lethal bean bag rounds first before using live ammunition.”  He claims to have heard this directly from Border Patrol agents speaking off the record.

As government denials go, this one is extra-murky, with a side order of deniability.  The CBP statement quoted by HSToday “personnel are trained to use the minimum force necessary to affect an arrest,” but they are also “trained and prepared for all situations and all threats and may deploy with less-lethal munitions as an option. Less-lethal munitions are not meant as a replacement for ‘live’ ammunition. All personnel performing in a law enforcement capacity are equipped with standard issue equipment, which includes a handgun.”  None of which addresses the question of whether they were ordered to use non-lethal weapons first, under all circumstances… and if so, where that order originated.

Agent Terry’s chapter of the Border Patrol Council added that “reports circulating that Agent Terry and others were armed only with bean bag rounds and rubber bullets… were not true.”  That’s never been the issue.  Obviously they had real guns, because they killed one of the invaders in the firefight, and he didn’t go down with a ninja throwing star buried in his forehead.

Terry’s brother Kent told the Arizona Star that he finds the official government story deeply puzzling.  “You go up against a bandit crew that is carrying AKs, and you walk out there with guns loaded with beanbags… I don’t get it,” he said, adding that Border Patrol agents “are professionals” who should “be able to use their judgment call on their own.”

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry served three years in the Marine Corps, and worked as a cop in Michigan for a couple of years after that.  It seems extraordinarily unlikely that his “judgment call” for dealing with people lugging automatic rifles, on a night when he was tracking a gang of violent thieves, would have been to load his weapon with teddy bear guts.  It’s much more plausible that someone imposed that protocol upon him.  The kind of person who would declare passengers subduing a bomber on board an airplane in flight meant “the system worked” is the kind of person I would view as a likely suspect.

President Obama had a meeting with Mexican president Felipe Calderon yesterday, discussing the recent murder of Immigration and Customs agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico, and said he views American agents Mexico are “advisers” who should obey “laws in place in Mexico that say our agents should not be armed.”  A newsflash for this terrifyingly oblivious President: our agents are being gunned down on the American side of that border. Mexico is a failed state whose incompetent and corrupt government is losing a battle against drug lords.  It is a war zone, and any American agent who goes anywhere near it should go in hot.  I strongly suspect Agent Brian Terry knew that.