Police Abuse

Is the Dangerous, Scandal-Ridden Border Patrol Being Quietly Disarmed?


End Border Patrol Checkpoints/ACLU

The snowballing series of scandals, abuses, and incidents of misconduct committed by Border Patrol agents came together in an investigatory piece published by Politico last week that described the keepers of the national border—and terrifiers of many who live within it—as America's "most out-of-control law enforcement agency." Now reports out of Tucson reveal that Customs and Border Protection is taking away Border Patrol agents' assault rifles over serviceability concerns—and not replacing them. Cause? Effect? You decide.

For Politico, Garret M. Graff pointed out that border protection has exploded in recent years from a relatively backwater task to the point where "Customs and Border Protection not only employs some 60,000 total personnel—everything from desert agents on horseback to insect inspectors at airports—but also operates a fleet of some 250 planes, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles like the Predator drones the military sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's a wide-open task with few restraints, since constitutional protections are loosened within what the ACLU descibes as the the "Constitution-free zone" in a 100-mile band at the border. So Border Patrol not only watches the actual border, but mans internal checkpoints and controls access to some towns in the area. This expansion of power and personnel has come with a minimum of adult supervision and problems of abuse, misconduct, and criminal activity that trouble even some other government agencies. "The FBI in McAllen had gotten used to investigating assaults and misconduct among Border Patrol agents," Graff notes. "It had become the field office's top criminal priority."

the Border Patrol has also become one of the nation's deadliest law enforcement agencies over that same period, involved in more fatal shootings—at least 46—since 2004 than perhaps any other such agency. (As this summer's events in Ferguson, Missouri, showed, definitive statistics on fatal law enforcement shootings are notoriously difficult to collect.) An internal report last year that the agency tried to keep secret accused its agents of shooting their weapons not out of fear for their lives but instead out of "frustration."

So, what to do with a small army that seems to have slipped out of effective control?

Take note of this complaint on the website of the Tucson-area Border Patrol union:

Border Patrol M4 rifles are being deadlined at an alarming rate and not all are being replaced. Again we have to ask "HOW DID THESE PEOPLE GET IN CHARGE?" Did they honestly think that these rifles would last for ever and they wouldn't need to be replaced. How is it that managers didn't see this coming?

Tucson's News 4 expands on the story:

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have uncovered that some U.S. Border Patrol agents have lost a key part of their arsenal. And that has agents who patrol along the border here, extremely worried.

We learned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are inspecting the quality of agents' M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol sectors nationwide. But agents tell us, some of those M4s have not been replaced. And, we've learned, agents are required to share rifles amongst each other.

The news station notes law enforcement experts commenting that taking the rifles away seems strange. "Prather believes removing some of the rifles maybe politically motivated. He says he was told that many of these guns are being removed for issues that are easily repaired like the firing pin and bolt…That makes him suspicious that the agency could be disarming its agents."

Hmmm…Amid concerns that Border Patrol is dangerous and out of control, the government may be quietly taking guns away from agents. Interesting.

NEXT: Aaron Malin on Trying to Get Records From a Shady Drug Task Force in Rural Missouri

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  1. I have no idea what is going on here. Who knows how much this is actually happening. If it is happening, however, it seems very unlikely given the federal government’s law enforcement history, that they are taking these rifles away out of concern that the Border Patrol is out of control.

    Exact when in the history of the world has the federal government ever done something like that? The ATF and FBI burned people alive on national TV and nothing changed. So the Border Patrol harassing some people on Youtube is going to cause the government to disarm them? In bizzaro world maybe.

    1. Could it be a budget stunt? “We need more money, our brave Border Patrol is being forced to share rifles.”?

      1. Follow the money is usually good advice.

    2. IF this is a conscious act with some hidden motivation, I find it much more likely that it’s being done to avoid a deadly incident involving illegals (and all the diplomatic and media hullaballoo that comes with it). Sorry to say but it’s not a stretch that the current crop of political hacks place a higher value on the lives of illegal immigrants than they do on gun or religious nuts living in Idaho or Texas.

      Honestly though, I think it’s probably just poor planning and the creaky wheels of bureaucracy.

  2. how the hell are these idiots wearing out a firearm so fast?They last for decades if cared for.

    1. The rectum is a harsh and often corrosive environment.

    2. if cared for

      Why should they care for them? They don’t own them. The People do.

    3. Ar’s and M-16’s tend to wear out fast (not to mention jam like a motherfucker) if:

      A) You aren’t actually cleaning them.


      B) You clean them with wet lube in desert with lots of windblown sand.

      1. This is exactly the opposite of correct.

        AR15/M16/M4-type rifles run just fine even when extremely dirty, as long as they get adequate lube in the right places.



        1. Nope. Link all you want, those fuckers will jam in the sand.

          1. Heh. It’s cute how you pretend to know what you’re talking about.

            1. I always forget that some dink with the internet knows more about this than a Gulf War Marine Vet.

  3. U.S. Border Patrol agents have lost a key part of their arsenal. And that has agents who patrol along the border here, extremely worried.

    The real question is, how many times have BP gotten into firefights with armed smugglers/illegals?

    I’m betting it comes down to close to 0. As such, why did they need the rifles in the first place? They are not defending the border from armed invasion – they’re not the military. And let’s be honest – even the Mexican military would roll over the BP without even noticing.

    Not even regular cops feel the need to routinely go around armed with long rifles. Most police don’t even have a shotgun locked up in the trunk, let alone a ‘high powered assault weapon whose only purpose is killing people’. And *those guys* believe they’re working in a war zone.

    Its always struck me as sad that here, at the San Luis crossing, DHS and BP conduct searches of vehicles under the watchful eye of people armed with rifles – as if a bunch of heavily armed killers could spring out from under the back seat of a van at any moment.

    1. I’ve seen news footage of BP agents hanging out the side of a helicopter as if they were headed for an LZ in Vietnam, rifles pointed down at whatever Mexican border town it was. I had to wonder how many people in Mexico actually take shots at them – I’m going to go ahead and guess zero.

      “Well, the idea is to intimidate any opposition before it tries anything.” is what they’d probably say as an excuse.

      1. Or, you know, for this.


        I’d say you done fucked up if Fox News is slamming you for shooting illegals.

  4. Why can’t the border patrol agents just throw rocks? Tulpa thinks those are deadly missiles, after all.

    1. Oh, I remember that derp.

      1. Hey, what if you had kids throwing rocks that had been sharpened into ninja stars at you?

        I’m thinking, using that line of defense, as kids we could have *legally* killed each other at one point or another. I’ve thrown rocks and had rocks thrown at me many times growing up.

        1. To retreat they would have had to let the person they were arresting escape back over the border. Which is exactly what the rock throwers are trying to get them to do.

          And, you know, what the BP is going to do with the guy eventually anyway.

    2. A rock to the head can actually be deadly. Really, they should just wear a helmet for that.

  5. I’d love to know what the “deadline” defects are. I suspect shenanigans.

    When I was in the National Guard, we had M16A1’s up until 2000. They were 25+ years old and perfectly serviceable; the only malfunctions I ever saw were related to bad magazines. We did normal operator level maintenance.

    CBP’s might see harder use than ours did, but I am skeptical that simply getting out of the truck and exposing the M4 to dry air wears them out quickly.

    1. It wouldn’t surprise me to see broken stocks (from careless treatment), excessive reports of failure to feed/extract, along with accelerated wear on the barrel and moving parts.

      Army/Marines keep their weapons nice and shiny because its no big thing to have a line of a hundred soldiers cleaning their weapons, even if it takes all night. BP? You have to pay those guys for every hour they’re on shift.

      And I figure these guys are probably out there firing off rounds at cactus when they get bored.

      These guns probably don’t get much more than a bore swab before they go back in the armory.

      1. This.

        The Marines spend at best half of their time in the field or at the range. The rest of the time those weapns are in an arms safe. The border patrol in contrast goes out with their weapns every day. Just carrying the weapns out into the heat wet and cold every day is going to eventually wear them out.

    2. Mostly worn or damaged bolts, is what I’m hearing.

  6. Anyone else a tad suspicious this is coming up just as Obama is working on his Executive Order solution to illegal immigration?

  7. After taking away their rifles, could their pistols be next?
    And then, to the cheers of everyone who travels I-10/8, take away their orange cones.

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