Republican uses animals, mariachi band to critique border security October 11, 2006 — Reports of an elephant crossing the river or people trying to smuggle an elephant across were rampant Tuesday while an elaborate political stunt was taking shape near the mouth of the Rio Grande. It was a while later that the stunt, which was a photo shoot, was abruptly met by federal agents. He was in Brownsville to raise funds with friends and decided to get a first-hand look at border security while he was here, he said. In Brownsville, he witnessed half a dozen men swim under one of the international bridges “with complete immunity” which in turn prompted him to take the immigration issue to the next level. Bhakta decided to see if he could get an elephant accompanied by a six-piece mariachi band across the river. “To my surprise, the band played on, the elephants splashed away, and nobody showed up,” Bhakta said of the stunt. “I’m astounded.” The elephants came from Shrine Circuses, said James Plunkett, who produces the circus. They arrived in Brownsville on Monday and were scheduled to be on their way to Maybank on Tuesday afternoon. The elephants and the crew were at the Rio Grande for less than an hour, Plunkett said. Plunkett said he and his crew were hired for a “photo shoot” and entered the Boca Chica beach area without any notice from the Border Patrol. However, when it became clear that the elephants were in a quarantined area, the Border Patrol alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the elephants had to be detained. The animals needed to be sprayed for ticks. He said he was “staggered” by what happened on Tuesday and was planning on sharing the story with his potential constituents. “If I can get an elephant led by a mariachi band into this country, I think Osama bin Laden could get across with all the weapons of mass destruction he could get into this country,” Bhakta said. The mariachi band was not immediately available for comment. Even funnier is that I grew up down there and watched people walk/swim/float across that river all the time.