306. The U.S. Border Patrol is encountering more problems with drug dealers from Mexico. A few weeks ago, a dealer ran over a border patrol agent. The agent, standing in the middle of a two‐lane road, had motioned the dealer's vehicle to stop. Instead, the dealer ran over the agent, killing him, and then drove back across the border into Mexico. He has not been caught yet. Such incidents are on the rise, said one agent. The dealers are getting braver, because they rarely get caught. "Any agent who tries to stop us deserves to die," said one convicted drug dealer.

The dealers are always devising new tricks to get their drugs into the U.S. They start dangerous fires near the border to distract agents. They shoot cattle on border ranches so that American ranchers will not call agents about suspicious activity. They use dynamite to blow up bridges so agents cannot follow them. They dig tunnels that start in Mexico and connect with buildings on U.S. soil.

Their newest trick is to try to behead agents who ride on ATVs (all‐terrain vehicles). When an agent drives into a concealed trap, he activates a "clothes line" wire. This wire stretches tightly across the agent's path, at neck level. It could slice right through his neck. The Department of Homeland Security quickly issued a new protective device for its ATV riders—a plastic neck guard. Using computer simulation, the department determined that the neck guard should prevent beheading; however, critical injuries, including a broken neck, are still possible.

"These 'clothes lines' are not a big deal," said a department official. He criticized the media for making a mountain out of a molehill. "Wait until an agent is actually beheaded—then you'll have a story," he said to a group of reporters.

7.5, 64.0, 9%, 13.5, 299
Vocabulary: agent behead border* brave cattle conceal connect convict dealer deserve devise distract dynamite encounter incident mole motion neck path patrol ranch rancher rarely shoot simulation slice stretch suspicious terrain tightly trap trick* tunnel vehicle PLUS activate activity American back catch clothes computer deal department device die dig drive drove drug fire group guard hill homeland injury lane level media middle newest official plastic road run security soil stand story use wire  *not used in newXword

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