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3 suspected drug smugglers shot in Texas

By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
  • Details still sketchy about exchange of gunfire across the Rio Grande
  • Texas authorities say three people suspected to be smugglers were wounded
  • Authorities have no word yet on extent of injuries or if anyone was apprehended

Washington (CNN) -- At least three suspected drug smugglers were shot and wounded early Thursday morning when gunfire broke out between them and a U.S. state and federal law enforcement officers along the Rio Grande near Penitas, Texas, authorities said.

Officials released only sketchy details of the incident, which began when officials spotted a suspicious vehicle on the U.S. side of the river along with two boats believed to belong to a drug cartel, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Three law enforcement patrol boats arrived at the scene, west of McAllen, to interdict the drug runners and a large load of drugs, but they received heavy gunfire from the Mexico side, authorities said. The law enforcement officers returned fire, striking at least three of the smugglers.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said Wednesday afternoon she could not provide additional details, saying operations were continuing. Mange said law enforcement officers received minor injuries not related to the gunfire.

At least three of the suspected smugglers were struck by gunfire, Mange said, but she said she could not disclose whether anyone had been apprehended nor comment on the extent of the people's injuries.

Mange said federal and state officers were participating in a multi-agency operation when the incident occurred.