EXCLUSIVE: Fox News has obtained images that show suspected cartel gunmen coming across the U.S. southern border in Texas toting body armor and rifles – the latest instance of armed men believed to be cartel members at the border.
Law enforcement sources tell Fox that the three men were spotted on Saturday evening by cameras in the Fronton area and were seen carrying rifles and wearing body armor as they move through the brush.
Border Patrol agents, including the agency’s BORTAC tactical unit, were deployed to the area but found nothing. It is the same area where law enforcement arrested five suspected members of the Northeast Cartel in June.
The latest incident came just days after Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) drone operators in Eagle Pass spotted an armed smuggler in Eagle Pass carrying a long gun and guiding a group of illegal immigrants across the Rio Grande.
In that instance the man made it back to Mexico, authorities said.
While the overwhelming majority of migrants coming across the border do not have criminal records, the large numbers of people coming across has raised concerns – particularly from Republicans – about who may be among the hundreds of thousands of people who are able to evade Border Patrol agents. The head of Border Patrol announced last week that agents nabbed four sex offenders – some with convictions of crimes against children – at the border coming into the U.S. within a single day.
The border has seen record-high migrant encounters since 2021, but numbers began to trend down after the end of Title 42 on May 11. There were 144,000 migrant encounters in June, down from over 200,000 in May. However, recently there are signs numbers have gone up in July, with the Washington Post reporting that initial numbers are up by 30%.
The Biden administration has touted moves it is taking to reduce the reliance on smugglers, who control large parts of the Mexican side of the border and who migrants often need to deal with in order to be able to access the U.S. The administration has expanded a number of lawful pathways for migrants to enter the U.S. – and has touted an anti-smuggling campaign last year which led to thousands of arrests.
The Pentagon has authorized 400 troops to remain at the border until the end of August beyond their 90-day mission, as 1,100 return to their home base. Meanwhile, Fox News Digital reported last week that ICE is increasing the number of its special agents at the border and that DHS is calling for more agency volunteers to help with processing at the border in the event of a surge in numbers.
Fox News’ Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.