SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A U.S. Border Patrol agent who was moving in to apprehend a group of migrants last week was fired upon by smugglers, the agency announced Friday.

The incident took place on Aug. 18 after the agent encountered a group of suspected unauthorized migrants in the Otay Mountain Wilderness area, officials said.

As the agent approached the group, an unidentified individual fired multiple shots in his direction.

Additional agents responding in the area heard the gunshots and observed “muzzle flashes coming from the vicinity of the group,” officials said. Moments later, agents heard a second series of shots fired at them.

None of the agents were hit by the bullets, but as the agents took cover, the group of migrants and the assailant returned to Mexico, Border Patrol officials said.

Recent picture taken from infrared surveillance cameras along the border shows armed bandits working north of the border. (Courtesy: Customs and Border Protection)

In recent months, the agency has reported several encounters involving armed smugglers and bandits along the U.S.-Mexico border in the San Diego Sector.

“Smuggling organizations are becoming desperate and escalating their level of violence because of the work being performed by U.S. Border Patrol agents,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Patricia McGurk-Daniel. “Our agents are preventing smugglers from conducting their illicit business and this is their very dangerous response … this callous display clearly shows that smugglers do not care about the safety of migrants or law enforcement.”

On Aug. 22, U.S. National Guard personnel operating a mobile scope reportedly spotted an armed individual climbing the international border fence in the Otay Mountain Wilderness area.

A day later two armed subjects were observed in the same area.

Border Patrol San Diego Sector says it’s coordinating with its foreign law enforcement partners and the government of Mexico to address these incidents.

“These incidents and individuals pose a significant danger to agents patrolling the area as well as migrants attempting to illegally enter,” said McGurk-Daniel emphasizes, “The safety of our agents, and the safety of migrants remains paramount. We remain vigilant in the face of escalating threats and danger, and we will work to identify and prosecute the responsible parties.”