The trap — two sections of thin wire strung tight across the road — was spotted Saturday night by a local rancher, Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said Tuesday.
The 1/4-inch wires were tied to a cattle fence along the border, strung across the road and affixed to a mesquite tree in a stretch of rugged desert about 100 miles west of El Paso.
One wire was about four feet off the ground and the second appeared to sit about a foot from the ground.
"It's alarming," Mosier said. "Any time you have a booby trap and the cover of darkness, it makes for a dangerous formula."
Mosier said the trap was found about 8:30 p.m. Agents working the area believe the wires were put in place about an hour earlier, just as the sun was starting to set.
The nearest Mexican town is the village of Las Chepas, a ramshackle collection of small houses and abandoned buildings routinely used by smugglers as a staging ground.
In February, agents in San Diego found a wire strung from the Mexican side of a border fence, through a small hole in the fence and across a patrol road. The wire was set up to be pulled tight from the Mexican side of the border.
In both cases, the wires were put in areas routinely patrolled by agents on all terrain vehicles and horseback.
Mosier said it's not unusual for agents to find obstacles, including metal spikes, along patrol roads. But he said the wires, which could have been deadly for an agent patrolling on an ATV, show a new level of violence.
"This is the first time I can recall a booby trap," Mosier said. "But smugglers have never been short on creativity."
The latest effort to stymie Border Patrol efforts comes amid an alarming rise in violence in northern Mexico as rival drug cartels jockey for power.
Mosier said assaults on agents have also been on the rise.
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