With horses, shields, fake and real tear gas, and one biting dog, about 90 U.S. Border Patrol agents from the San Diego Sector trained for crowd and riot control atop Spooner's Mesa in the Tijuana River Valley on Thursday, December 12. The exercise was refresher training that had been moved up on the schedule after the recent Tijuana River channel incident on November 24.
Sector chief Paul Beeson confirmed that the training was originally scheduled for January 19–21 for about 90 local agents who are part of the agency's Mobile Response Team, which can be deployed locally or anywhere in the U.S. to support other law-enforcement agencies.
"The agents were trained in groups of 30 by our BORTAC team," Beeson said. (BORTAC is the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, much like police SWAT teams.) "San Diego is one of four sectors in the country that have mobile response teams organized, trained, and equipped to respond swiftly to a variety of events — not just riots but events like Hurricane Katrina."
On November 24, a group of between 100 and 200 migrants from Tijuana rushed the international boundary and attempted to enter the U.S., where they were confronted by about three dozen Border Patrol agents. Some in the crowd threw rocks and bottles at the agents, who drove the illegal crossers back into Mexico with pepperballs, tasers, and batons.
The half-hour incident — and who organized it — remains under investigation by authorities on both sides of the border.
At least five horses also participated in the Mobile Response Team training so that they would be desensitized to the smoke and loud bangs that can occur during such incidents, Beeson said.