EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating reports of social media videos apparently showing one of its troopers chasing a driver into Mexico.
The videos began surfacing early Saturday. One shows a chase of a red sports car over the humps at the Bridge of the Americas, onto the span leading to Mexico and ending at the Mexican inspection booths. A large sign can be seen above the vehicles saying “Mexico.”
Mexican soldiers pull the driver onto a secondary inspection area.
The first video shows a man in a tan uniform going up to the red car holding a gun and pulling a civilian out and onto the ground. A pair of Mexican soldiers can be seen in the background just looking at the scene.
A second video shows a uniformed Mexican official on a cellphone while the trooper goes back to his SUV with a State of Texas emblem and the words “Department of Public Safety.” This video also shows the trooper going back to the car to talk to the driver while a Mexican soldier records him on a cellphone. The video ends with the trooper walking back to his vehicle.
Gen. Jorge Buchan, head of the Mexican army garrison in Juarez, on Monday confirmed that an American law enforcement officer crossed into Mexico from El Paso in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday. The officer was chasing a driver for a traffic violation and, being that he is not a native of the region, did not realize he had crossed into Mexico, Buchan said.
“Due to the good relations between the two countries, he was allowed to return (to the United States). The driver, being a citizen of Mexico and of the United States, was allowed” to enter Mexico, the general said.
Border Report and KTSM reached out to DPS and other state officials for comment. DPS responded with a single-sentence statement: “This investigation is ongoing and we have nothing to release at this time.”
Border Report also reached out to the State Department, the White House and the Office of U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, for comment.
Cross-border chases uncommon, but not unheard of
Cross-border incursions are rare, but they do happen from time to time, said former El Paso and Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief Victor M. Manjarrez Jr.
“I’ve seen police officers and Border Patrol trainees – not just in El Paso but all over the border – go father down the line than they should. This used to be more frequent when we didn’t have border barrier,” said Manjarrez, director of the Center for Law and Human Behavior at the University of El Paso. “At ports of entry, especially in the heat of the moment, the line gets sort of blurry, and you get tunnel vision. In the heat of the moment, people don’t realize they are now in Mexico.”
Such incursions happen both ways, Majarrez said. Mexican soldiers patrolling the desert west of Juarez, Mexico, have occasionally ended up in New Mexico.
Mexican authorities in the past have detained U.S. law enforcement officers who follow suspects into Mexico, but they are usually released a short time later.
“When they make an entry like that, they’ve violated some type of Mexican federal law. Usually, it becomes a bit of a standoff. The officer is detained and that’s when the diplomatic relations come in,” Manjarrez said. “He makes a call and someone in the State Department starts to negotiate the officer’s return without some kind of conviction.”
Juan Carlos Loera, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s representative in the state of Chihuahua, said whether the American police officer was released on the spot or held in detention for a few hours, “the outcome would have been the same.”
“What we need is for our Foreign Ministry and the State Department, through their respective consuls, to talk about educating (law enforcement” about how protocols differ in each country and how it’s important to observe each other’s laws, Loera said.