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Mr. Speaker, heavily armed Mexican pirates have been shaking down U.S. boaters on Falcon Lake in Texas. It's a reservoir and a bass fishing haven that straddles the Rio Grande River in Texas--between Texas and Mexico. It's the international boundary between Zapata County, Texas, and Mexico.
According to recent San Antonio news reports, several such incidents have been reported with pirates on Falcon Lake since April 30, the latest being this past Sunday. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which issued warnings Tuesday, the robberies are linked to northern Mexico's increasing lawlessness. According to the descriptions of the incidents, the pirates in at least one case posed as Mexican federal law enforcement officers. They searched fishermen's boats for guns and drugs and then demanded cash at gunpoint. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the robbers are believed to be members of a drug trafficking organization or members of an enforcer group linked to a drug trafficking organization. They use AK-47s or AR-15 rifles to threaten their victims. They appear to be using local Mexican fishermen to operate the boats to rob the American fishermen.
It was unclear why sport fishermen were targeted, but the warning comes only a few weeks before bass fishing tournaments that are among the south Texas border region's biggest tourist draws. DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said the warning was issued, in part, because of the upcoming bass tournaments. Zapata County Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez said he would be reviewing protective measures with the DPS Border Security Operations Center and the region's Fusion Center, which is a Federal information clearinghouse for terrorism prevention.
Reported victims included, one, five people in two boats who were approached by four men on April 30, claiming to be federales near the church at Old Guerrero. That is now a submerged town in the bottom of the lake. The men boarded the boats, demanded cash, and wanted to know where the drugs were. They then robbed the Americans.
A second incident. Three fishermen were approached on May 6 by a boat containing two men pointing AR-15s. Those are assault rifles, Mr. Speaker. One boarded the fishing boat, searched for drugs, cash and guns, chambered a round in the rifle and told the fishermen he would shoot them if they did not give him the money. In another pirate raid, fishermen were robbed of their money and boat and clothes and left naked on the Mexican side of the lake. Yet in a fourth incident, boaters on the U.S. side of the lake were approached by a boat containing five armed men. It's still unclear what else happened because this just happened 2 days ago.
Falcon Lake is approximately 60 miles long. It's a reservoir on the Rio Grande, fronting Starr and Zapata Counties in Texas, and it is shared between the United States and Mexico. It was formed by a dam in 1953 to conserve water for agriculture and control downstream flooding.
Mr. Speaker, piracy is a centuries-old problem that many nations have had to deal with. In the 1800s, Thomas Jefferson sent the United States Navy to the Mediterranean Sea, where pirates roamed at will and robbed American ships. That President fought piracy on the high seas. But the difference now is our administration would rather criticize people in States like Arizona that demand more border security rather than do anything about illegal border crossers, including the pirates of Falcon Lake.
Meanwhile, today, President Calderon of Mexico arrogantly lectured us in a joint session of Congress, chastising the United States--especially Arizona--for