SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Mexico’s Institute of Migration, INM, says it is having to double its patrols directly south of the border to protect migrants from smugglers who have become more heavily armed in recent months.

INM Director David Pérez Tejada said they are noticing more smugglers with weapons in areas that are infamous for illegal crossing activity into California, such as the canal in Tijuana and in the canyons near the ocean.

“Our need for more personnel limits us and sometimes we are putting our personnel in danger as they come across smugglers carrying weapons,” said Pérez Tejada. “We have also witnessed smugglers fire their weapons toward the north at Border Patrol agents.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirms there have been several incidents in the past where smugglers and bandits have taken shots at agents.

Pérez Tejada said other problem areas are to the east near the city of Tecate in the mountains, where access is limited, and their patrols are scarce.

He says they are coordinating efforts with Mexico’s National Guard to prevent migrants from entering the area to try to cross into the U.S.

“Sometimes we stop them, other times it’s the Border Patrol,” he said.

Pérez Tejada said INM is conducting more raids and searches at hotels and motels throughout Baja California, rescuing migrants held by smugglers.

He also is reporting his officers are patrolling the airport and bus stations, advising migrants to forgo crossing the border illegally and not to trust smugglers.