A total of 14 Mexican soldiers were briefly detained and deported home after they illegally crossed into US territory, the Border Patrol said. One of the intruders was caught with marijuana while being processed.
The group of Mexican soldiers was spotted by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) early on Saturday morning, the agency said in a statement to the media.
The intruders were traveling on two military vehicles down the Bridge of the Americas, which links the city of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico to El Paso on the US side. The troops “did not realize they had entered the US,” the CBP said.
The soldiers were disarmed and briefly detained. During processing, one Mexican soldier was handed a civil penalty after border agents discovered he had a small amount of marijuana for personal use.
The Mexican authorities were contacted immediately, and the lost troops were returned home before 5am. Mexico did not comment on the incident.
A photo on social media shows what appears to be soldiers in full combat gear sitting on the ground with a US border official standing nearby. In another image, several soldiers were being escorted by border guards.
Mexican soldiers arrested at the Juarez/El Paso border by USA CBP agents. Apparently the soldiers didn’t know where mexican territory ended and where USA territory started. pic.twitter.com/mLhzTkU0E7
A witness told Reuters that agents “yelled at the soldiers to put their hands up and drop their weapons immediately.” The CBP then searched the vehicles and escorted away the soldiers, who appeared to be handcuffed, Reuters said, citing the witness and photos from the scene.
The developments on the US southern border have drawn much attention in recent days, after thousands of illegal migrants from Haiti set up camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. The situation on the ground was tense, as CBP agents on horseback tried to rein in the migrants.
The camp was cleared by Friday, with most residents either removed or deported to Haiti, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said.
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