U.S. Border Patrol arrest Mexican immigration official for human smuggling

The U.S. Border Patrol arrested a Mexican immigration official who was allegedly trying to help a group of undocumented migrants sneak into the United States, the Mexican government announced Sunday. Immigration agent Francisco Javier Gutierrez was arrested at a checkpoint near Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Mexican Interior Department said in a news release.

A spokesman for the Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, could not immediately comment on the case Sunday night. Gutierrez had been fired on corruption allegations last year but returned to his job after winning a court case in which he claimed he had been unfairly dismissed, according to the National Immigration Institute.

The Mexican government promised to cooperate with U.S. authorities in the investigation of Gutierrez.

"The National Immigration Institute offers the Border Patrol plain collaboration in the investigation into possible links with smuggling gangs," it announced. "We maintain a firm hand against corruption." Gutierrez's arrest comes just days after the Mexican and U.S. governments exchanged terse diplomatic notes about security on the border. On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza sent a note urging the Mexican government to clamp down on drug-related violence and corruption on the border region.

The note came after Texas lawmen came face to face with armed men dressed in Mexican military-style uniforms who later unloaded what appeared to be bundles of marijuana before setting fire to an SUV that bogged down in the Rio Grande.

Mexican officials have said the men were not Mexican soldiers. Texas authorities have said they want to investigate the incident further. Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez called Garza's comments out of line and on Thursday sent his own diplomatic note asking the ambassador to stop making public comments about security and immigration issues, reports the AP. I.L.

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