Federal anti-drug agent dies after shot near Pembroke Pines post office

PEMBROKE PINES - Federal, state and local police are hunting today for a gunman who shot and killed a customs agent in broad daylight in the parking lot of a postal distribution center.

The unidentified agent, a member of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force, had been taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood in critical condition after the shooting, which occurred about 8:55 a.m., police spokesman Sgt. Bryan Davis said.

Davis announced the man's death at around noon.

It was not known if the shooting outside the postal service's South Florida Processing and Distribution Center at Pines Boulevard and Dykes Road had anything to do with the agent's job. Davis said the shooting occurred after some kind of altercation, but he released no details.

Davis said police were looking for the gunman, who was described as between 45 to 55 years old, with a full head of gray hair. He was wearing a short-sleeve, green plaid shirt.

The suspect was last seen driving east on Pines Boulevard in a 2005 gray-green Chrysler 300 four-door sedan.

About 200 federal, state and local law enforcement agents were expected to participate in a dragnet for the gunman, Davis said.

Officers canvassed businesses in the area, looking for any surveillance video tape that might show the shooting or the suspect.

A statewide alert also was issued.

About a hundred officers assembled at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office near the post office, many of them in bullet-resistant vests. A Blackhawk helicopter from the federal Department of Homeland Security made several stops there to pick up officers.

"We're just going to saturate the area," Davis said. "We'll just start turning over every rock."

Davis said officers responding to the shooting found the agent laying next to his black Chrysler 300 sedan.

The agent was shot once, but Davis would not say where.

The victim worked in internal affairs with Customs and Border Protection, said agency spokesman Jose Castellano. He had no further details.

At Memorial Hospital, a steady trickle of officers walked through the emergency room where the agent was taken. None would comment.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program coordinates local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to combat drug-related crime in targeted regions.

South Florida, including Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, was designated for the program in 1990 because of the area's high level of drug trafficking.

The lobby of the postal service center, where people can drop off mail, was closed. However, Davis said the sorting area was open.

The center is one of three mail distribution centers in South Florida. The others are in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at at 954-493-TIPS, Pembroke Pines police, 954-431-2200, or online: www.browardcrimestoppers.org.