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Alleged Smuggler Started 1-on-7 Gunfight with Border Agents. It Didn't End Well for Him

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Officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection have a tough and dangerous job, protecting nearly 6,000 miles of territory around our nation. While liberals have tried to downplay the situation in many of those areas, it’s clear that every day is a challenge for these men and women in uniform.

Those risks were just made clear during an incident at the U.S.-Mexico border in California. On Monday night, a man who authorities say was engaged in human smuggling opened fire on officers, forcing them to return fire.

It appears that a truck refused to stop while moving through the border area before being blocked by another vehicle. The driver then shot at border agents and tried to flee on foot, still firing. He didn’t make it very far.

“At approximately 7:30 p.m., on Monday, June 3, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at the San Ysidro port of entry, along the San Diego/Tijuana border, engaged a subject with deadly force after he fired multiple gunshots at the CBP officers in an attempt to evade inspection by failing to stop,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection explained in a Wednesday news release.

At least seven border officers were involved in the incident, according to Fox News. Fortunately, none of them were injured even after bullets flew. The suspect was killed in the altercation and later identified as an American citizen: 23-year-old Travis James Eckstein.

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It seems that Eckstein was mixed up in trans-national crime, according to authorities. Two foreigners from Asia were hidden in his vehicle, apparently being smuggled into the United States.

“CBP officers found two additional people secreted inside the subject’s vehicle who were not injured,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. “Both were Chinese nationals, two men ages 18 and 27, with no legal status to enter the U.S.”

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CBP Director of Field Operations Pete Flores pointed out that not only did the situation put the public at risk, it also could have callously ended in the injury or death of the two people being smuggled across the border.

“The CBP officers risked their own lives to protect the public from this gunman,” Flores said in the CBP’s official statement. “Human smuggling is always dangerous. This unfortunate incident demonstrates the total disregard smuggling organizations have for what they consider to be cargo.”

The agency added that the San Diego Police Department was assisting with the investigation into the shooting and apparent smuggling operation, and an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security was being conducted to ensure that all officers involved acted correctly.

Border traffic on foot and by vehicle was temporarily shut down for half an hour on Monday, but CBP said there were “minimal delays,” all things considered.

It’s safe to say that anyone trying to assault uniformed border agents at a checkpoint hasn’t made the wisest choice. It definitely didn’t end well for this suspect, though thankfully innocent bystanders remained unharmed.

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This incident shows once again that we need to take border security seriously. From deadly drugs to unknown foreigners to hardened gang members, far too much is able to move into our country unvetted. Every nation has a right to reasonably control its own borders.

Yet the realities of the border and immigration situation continue to be downplayed and ignored, often by the left and usually for political purposes. That should outrage every American who values the rule of law because real people — citizens and foreigners alike — are being impacted by the issue.

While politicians continue to squabble about immigration, it’s worth remembering the men and women who are doing tough and dangerous work to keep America safe. Their work often goes unnoticed, but it makes a serious difference behind the scenes.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.