The shooting deaths of three federal agents in two months highlight the heightened risk to federal investigators who are confronting increasingly violent fugitives, drug traffickers, and other criminals, the Washington Post reports.The killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Mexico on Tuesday was followed by the slaying of a deputy U.S. marshal in West Virginia on Wednesday, an unusual confluence of events. A Border Patrol agent was fatally shot in Arizona in December.
The killings, while not connected, come amid a broadening federal role in fighting violent crime that was once left mainly to state authorities. Federal-state task forces on violent crime have multiplied since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, bringing federal agents in closer contact with dangerous criminals. The government says it is pouring resources into fighting drug trafficking and other crimes along the border with Mexico. “You’re seeing feds playing a much more active role in fighting violent crime, and that’s putting us in harm’s way,” said Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “We’re getting a lot more dangerous people off the street, but the more you do, the more you are exposed.” Overall, deaths of officers in the line of duty are rising nationwide. About 160 died in 2010, a nearly 40 percent increase from the year before, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund