In a statement released on Thursday, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) said it was “profoundly concerned” by the fatal shooting of Jesús Flores Cruz, a 41-year-old Mexican citizen, by a Border Patrol agent near the US-Mexico border, according to the Associated PressThe SRE called the use of lethal force in immigration enforcement “unacceptable” and called for an investigation into the incident, which occurred last Tuesday in a stretch of the border near San Diego.  Flores Cruz’ death promises to turn the spotlight back on the question of Border Patrol agents’ use of lethal force to defend themselves against the attacks of rock throwers. 

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said on Tuesday that the unidentified agent had shot Flores Cruz twice after being hit in the head with one of several rocks thrown by the 41-year-old man, who the agent suspected of illegally crossing the border.  Flores Cruz, whose identity was confirmed by a fingerprint match from a 1996 arrest by the DEA, is the latest of 21 people to have been killed by Customs and Border Patrol agents since 2010.  In nine of those deaths, agents were reacting to rock attacks, according to the Washington Post, and in six of them agents fired across the border into Mexico.  No agents involved in any of the deaths have been publically disciplined or prosecuted for their use of lethal force. 

The Arizona Republic notes that the Border Patrol does not require agents assigned to urban areas to carry any of a host of long-range, non-lethal repellents, such as “pepper ball” guns – which shoot pellets of pepper spray that can blanket areas with irritating fumes.  But the agency’s records appear to indicate that those agents who do make use of those devices have been successful at repelling rocking attacks: in 160 separate incidents, agents resolved the attacks by using those devices, without the death or serious injury to either the attackers or the agents. 

The statement from Mexico’s foreign ministry comes just days after Mexico’s attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, expressed outrage in an interview with the Post over the October 2012 death of 16-year-old Mexican citizen José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was killed after being shot 10 times – including several times in the back – by an agent who responded to a rocking attack by firing into Nogales, Mexico.  The agent will not face charges in his death.  Shooting “a boy that is throwing a rock to the other side of the river? Please. That is an abuse of force here and anywhere,” Murillo told the Post, adding, “Is that allowed, this use of force? If that were reversed, they would make such a scandal for us you couldn’t imagine.  A Mexican policeman shooting someone for any reason on the other side of the bridge?”  He went on, “I am telling you in all honesty, it offends me.  Because I don’t see justice in these cases.”

The Associated Press also notes that Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher told the news service last year that the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit which carried out a government-commissioned review of CBP’s lethal-force policies, had recommended that the Border Patrol and CBP prohibit its agents from using lethal force against rock throwers and assailants in vehicles.  The CBP rejected the recommendation.