Inspector Herff Alexander Carnes

Inspector Herff Alexander Carnes

United States Department of the Treasury - United States Customs Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Sunday, December 4, 1932

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Herff Alexander Carnes

Inspector Herff Carnes succumbed to gunshot wounds he received on December 1, 1932, while attempting to apprehend suspected smugglers.

Inspector Carnes and three other mounted inspectors received information from an informant of smugglers transporting illegal liquor across the Rio Grande River near Ysleta, about 13 miles downriver from El Paso.

The agents were concealed so well that two smugglers in the advance guard started walking between them, creating a dangerous crossfire situation. Inspector Carnes rose and ordered the smugglers to surrender. One smuggler fired at him. The round struck his pistol, split it into two pieces, and then hit his abdomen. Inspector Carnes and the other inspectors returned fire, but the smugglers escaped into Mexico.

Inspector Carnes was taken to a hospital in El Paso where he succumbed to his wounds three days later. He was survived by his wife and three children. He was buried in the Restlawn Cemetery in El Paso.

Inspector Carnes was a legendary lawman along the Texas-Mexico border. His brother, Texas Ranger Private Quirl Carnes, had been shot and killed in the line of duty on July 31st, 1910. Another brother served as sheriff of Wilson County, Texas, from 1917 to 1937. Inspector Carnes joined the Texas Rangers in 1903 and rose to the rank of Sergeant. He resigned in 1911 and became a Mounted Inspector with the United States Customs Service. During his 29 years of policing the border, he was involved in numerous gun battles.


  • Age 53
  • Tour 21 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Texas
  • Incident Date Thursday, December 1, 1932
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Escaped into Mexico

alcohol violation, smuggling

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Inspector Carnes, rest in peace.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

July 31, 2022

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