Two U.S. Border Patrol Agents were shot today near Naco, Ariz., with agent slain and another badly wounded.
The gunshots were possibly fired by drug traffickers, federal and county officials said.
The slain agent was Nicholas Ivie, 30. His partner was not immediately identified. A third agent was unharmed.
The agents were part of a three man patrol in the area and were responding to a motion detection sensor when they encountered gunfire, according to Homeland Security officials. Authorities did not know if the agents returned fire.
The agent who was wounded was transported by helicopter to a hospital.
"Border Patrol agents on patrol in Naco, Ariz., were involved in a shooting Tuesday at 1:50 a.m." U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. "One agent died from his injuries and another, who sustained non-life threatening wounds, was airlifted to a hospital."
Cochise County Deputy Chief Rod Rothrock told ABC News affiliate KNXV, "Due to the time of day and the location, we suspect some kind of narcotics trafficking, but at this point that is speculative."
"Cochise County has been a smuggling corridor for many, many years and that seems to be unabated in modern times," he said.
Rothrock warned, "The danger zone can extend pretty far north of the border."
He said a manhunt was launched in the area, but came up empty.
The last Border Patrol agent shot and killed along the border was Brian Terry, who was killed by bandits in a rugged part of the U.S.-Mexico border. The guns that killed Terry were linked to a disastrous gun trafficking operation run by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau in Arizona called Operation Fast and Furious.
The agents killed and wounded today were assigned to a Border Patrol station that was recently named after Brian Terry.
Rothrock was asked whether any of the Fast and Furious weapons could have been used in today's shooting. "I can't say that's impossible, but at this point it would be purely speculative... As we speak it is not known."