United States border patrol officers fired at two vehicles attempting to smuggle at least 18 undocumented Russian migrants from Mexico, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday.
The dramatic incident comes amid a tenfold increase in CBP encounters with migrants from Russia, from 467 in 2020 to 4,103 so far in 2021. Observers link the uptick to Mexico easing travel for Russian passport holders and migrants from ex-Soviet Uzbekistan using Russian passports to cross the Mexican-U.S. border.
The CBP said it was involved in a “use of force incident” Sunday at the San Isidro, California, port of entry with Tijuana, Mexico.
The CBP said its officer conducting pre-entry inspections fired at one of the approaching vehicles, which then collided with a second car.
“Both the Ford SUV and the Mercedes sedan contained a total of 18 undocumented migrants, who were all citizens of Russia,” the CBP said in a statement.
Two Mercedes passengers suffered “minor head contusions” as a result of the collision.
No injuries resulted from the gunfire, the CBP said.
A third car with eight Russian citizens, including two minors, crossed the same port of entry at the time of the shootout with the previous two cars.
The CBP did not say whether they were also detained.