- Sheriff Larry Spence of Willacy County spoke to MailOnline after murder of off-duty Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. who was allegedly gunned down by two illegal immigrants who had been deported six times
- Sheriff Spence said ranchers had reported illegal immigrants walking through the brush in single file, armed with rifles in military fatigues
- Spence said he used to not show a weapon but now he has 'two or maybe three' because of the increasing 'criminal element'
- He added: 'It’s not like it was years ago when people were just looking for a job or something to eat'
- MailOnline also spoke to the woman who reported Javier's alleged killers to the police. She now fears she could be killed by the cartels
The Sheriff leading the investigation into the brutal slaying of a Border Control Agent by two illegal immigrants has revealed local farmers in his county have reported spotting gangs of armed Mexicans 'in military fatigues' marching through their fields.
Sheriff Larry Spence’s department played a key role in catching Ismael Hernandez and Gustavo Tijerina after they allegedly gunned down hero officer Javier Vega Jr. in front of his mother, father, wife and three sons while they were on a family fishing trip.
Since their capture,Fox News reported that the suspects are both Mexican nationals who were in the U.S. illegally and have been deported SIX times between them.
Dangers: Larry Spence, Willacy County Sheriff for 29 years, said the problem is reaching a crisis point. He said: 'Lately we’ve been having a lot of traffic through the ranches. Smuggling, illegal immigrants, drugs'
Gustavo Tijerina, left, and Ismael Hernandez, right, were arrested over the murder of off-duty Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. on Sunday. It has emerged they had been deported six times before between them
Spence, who has been Sheriff of Willacy County in south Texas for 29 years, said the problem on the border is reaching a crisis point.
He said ranchers with land 25 miles north of the border have reported groups of men - believed to be illegal immigrants - walking single file, through farm land in military fatigues. Some were armed with rifles.
His stark warning came as a local woman who unwittingly helped Tijerina, 30 and Hernandez, 40, after they killed Javier, said she is now in fear for her life.
Her concerns are indicative of the climate of fear that is creeping into certain parts of the border states because of the increase of illegal activity.
The fugitives banged on her door at midnight on Monday morning, claiming they had been in a fight and looking for help. She let them in and gave them water.
'There is a definite need for asylum if people are being persecuted but there's a criminal element behind all of this and we need to open our eyes, we can't just keep letting everybody in'
- Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence
She only became suspicious when she saw a police helicopter circling the property. At that point she flagged down a passing Border Patrol Agent and scores of officers took the men into custody.
But now the mother-of-four says she is terrified that the men, believed to have links to the infamous Gulf Cartel, could send criminal associates round to her secluded property to kill her and her family, to stop her from testifying.
Speaking to MailOnline from his office in Raymondville, Sheriff Spence said that while the current political focus at the border had been on the humanitarian crisis posed by tens of thousands of undocumented children arriving alone in the US, an increasing 'criminal element' was being ignored.
He said: 'We are not use to this kind of violence happening in our town. We may have a murder every two or three years, but that would be a bar fight, or a domestic incident, nothing like this.
'But this is becoming much more prevalent. Lately we’ve been having a lot of traffic through the ranches. Smuggling, illegal immigrants, drugs.
'About three or four months ago we had an individual who saw people walking through farm property in military fatigues, with backpacks.
'He went out and asked them, "who are you", they said "what's it to you", he said he owned the property and they said, "well you better get out of here". Sensibly he left and called us, but by the time we got out there, they were gone.
Warning: Sheriff Spence said: 'There is a definite need for asylum if people are being persecuted but there's a criminal element behind all of this and we need to open our eyes, we can't just keep letting everybody in'
Threat: The woman who unwittingly let in and then helped police capture Javier's alleged killers, now says she is scared that the cartels could hurt her or her family. the mother, who did not want to be identified out of fear, said: 'We can't protect the border, so who's going to protect me and my kids?'
'We’ve had people say they’ve seen groups going through the fields in single file, with rifles as well.MORE