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Spike in Number of Assaults on Border Patrol Agents

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WESLACO – More U.S. Border Patrol agents are getting assaulted on the job. The Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol supervisor said it comes down to desperation.

Smugglers trying to avoid getting caught and those crossing illegally, fighting to make sure their journey doesn't come to an end. 

Assaults on Border Patrol agents are up 67 percent from the fiscal year 2016 to 2017.

Robert Rodriguez, a Border Patrol supervisor, for the Valley sector says assaults on agents are one of the biggest threats they face.

"The incidences that we see for the most part are out of desperation, where the immigrant or the smuggler is attempting to evade arrest," said Rodriguez.

He said they tend to use anything they can get their hands on as weapons.

"We've had instances where smugglers have attempted to run over agents," said Rodriguez.

In a CHANNEL 5 NEWS special report, we interviewed Border Patrol agent Randy De Leon.

In 2010, a piece of concrete about the size of a football flew towards the agent hitting the right side of his face.

"I had to get three stitches in my eyeball.  One of the bones that was broken was the ocular bowl, which holds up your eyeball. My eyeball was sinking and falling back into my head and I had two surgeries, reconstructive surgeries on the right side of my face, where they placed four titanium plates in my face to repair the damage," said De Leon. "I do carry this with me and I don't just mean like the physical aspect, but like what it's done to me. I don't want this to happen to me again. I don't want this to happen to any other agent."

Rodriguez said part of the reason for the recent increase in assaults is due to how difficult it's become to cross illegally.

"With the more pressure that's applied to these smugglers the more desperate they are going to become and they will start utilizing more severe tactics to attempt to get their commodity or the aliens across," said Rodriguez.

In the fiscal year 2016, 403 agents were assaulted. That number jumped to 671, the fiscal year 2017.

Rodriguez says to help combat these assaults, Border Patrol agents have back up nearby.

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