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Slain Mexican Was Smuggler, Agency Says

January 05, 2006|Richard Marosi | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — A Mexican man allegedly killed during a skirmish with a Border Patrol agent last week was a longtime human smuggler, according to U.S. officials, who have been fiercely criticized in Mexico over their handling of the incident.

Guillermo Martinez Rodriguez, 18, who Mexican investigators say was shot in the back, had been arrested 11 times on suspicion of smuggling migrants, Border Patrol officials said.

Martinez has been portrayed in the Mexican media as a migrant who crossed into California searching for work.

His death has prompted new denunciations of U.S. immigration policy from leaders in Mexico.

On Wednesday, the Mexican Congress passed a resolution demanding a speedy investigation, and the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., sent a diplomatic note requesting a federal probe.

Border Patrol officials said Mexico's reaction has been based partly on false information.

Martinez was a longtime smuggler and the agent was trying to defend himself from a rock attack in an area on the San Diego-Tijuana border where agents are regularly assaulted, said Raul Martinez, an agency spokesman.

"The Mexican media has portrayed this guy as a hero," he said.

Actual facts are facts. He is a known smuggler with a prior apprehension record."

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