News From the Border

Providing the news from a different front but from a war that we must win as well! I recognize the poverty and desperate conditions that many Latinos live in. We, as the USA, have a responsibility to do as much as we can to reach out to aid and assist spiritually with the Gospel and naturally with training, technology and resources. But poverty gives no one the right to break the laws of another sovereign nation.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gunmen kill 8 at Mexican border city rehab center

The Associated Press

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Officials say gunmen killed eight people at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in this border city.Police say five others were wounded in the Wednesday night attack across the border from El Paso.Police spokesman Cesar Ramirez says the people were listening to a pastor's sermon when the gunmen barged in and opened fire. He says police found 61 casings inside the center.Ramirez says authorities are investigating and have made no arrests.

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Agents find body of smuggler killed by bandits

Aug. 15, 2008 10:28 AM

TUCSON- U.S. Border Patrol agents say they've found the body of a man believed to have been killed by bandits west of Green Valley while he was smuggling marijuana into the country.

Agency spokesman Rob Daniels says the agency began looking for the man's body after survivors of the attack reported it to the Mexican consulate in Tucson. Consul officials then alerted U.S. authorities.

Daniels says the consulate told authorities that the man was among as group of people carrying bundles of marijuana into the country when they were confronted by bandits early Monday.

Searchers using dogs found the body of a young man on Thursday. He had no identification.

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Border Patrol Arrests Illegal Aliens in Fake Construction Vehicle

Friday, August 15, 2008

San Diego - Yesterday afternoon, Border Patrol agents in San Ysidro uncovered an alien smuggling scheme that involved a pickup truck replicated to appear to be from a major construction company.

The pickup truck was disguised as a vehicle from Kiewit Corporation, a company currently working on a large border construction project.

Upon spotting the truck on Dairy Mart Road at about noon, agents observed it as it arrived at a secluded spot along the border fence and parked for a brief period. A license plate check of the truck revealed that its registered owner was a San Diego resident, and not Kiewit Corporation.

As agents attempted to stop the suspect vehicle, it sped away on Dairy Mart Road. Agents then successfully deployed a controlled tire deflation device nearby the Interstate 5 onramp.

When the truck came to a stop, the driver, who was wearing a yellow hard hat and a reflective safety vest, fled on foot. An agent was able to apprehend the driver, who is now facing charges for alien smuggling.

Agents inspected the truck and found one illegal alien in the cab and 10 illegal aliens hidden in a false tool box in the bed of the truck.

This incident comes three days after agents prevented a drug smuggling attempt by the use of a false San Diego Gas & Electric vehicle and three weeks after agents discovered 49 illegal aliens in a water truck near Smuggler’s Gulch. In response to effective border security efforts, smugglers are resorting to more sophisticated and dangerous methods to smuggle humans, drugs and other contraband.

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Andrade CBP Officers Intercept Narcotics Worth Nearly $400,000

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Andrade, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Andrade, Calif. port of entry seized nearly $400,000 in cocaine and methamphetamine Tuesday and arrested one person in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

The incident occurred at about 7 a.m. when a 1999 Plymouth Grand Voyager was referred to the secondary inspection area for an intensive examination after the primary officer noticed signs of nervousness displayed by the driver.

A human/narcotic detector dog alerted officers to the dashboard of the vehicle where they discovered 15 wrapped packages of cocaine co-mingled with four packages of methamphetamine. The total weight of the seized narcotics was 46 pounds, including about 40 pounds of cocaine worth about $320,000 and almost six pounds of methamphetamine valued at over $61,000.

The male driver, a 40-year old male Sonora resident, was placed under arrest and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for further disposition. The narcotics and vehicle were seized by CBP.

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CBP Thwarts Run of Drug Smuggling Attempts at Calif. Port

Monday, August 11, 2008

Calexico, Calif. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the downtown port of entry intercepted six narcotic smuggling attempts in three days last week, officials announced today. Seized drugs had a street value of more than $2 million.

CBP officers discovered the narcotics in six vehicles after they entered the U.S. from Mexicali, Mexico. Seven individuals, six Mexican citizens and one U.S. citizen, were arrested by CBP officers and turned over to special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for transportation to the county jail to face arraignment.

The most recent interception occurred at about 6 p.m. on Sunday when a white 2000 Ford F-250 was referred to the secondary inspection area for an intensive examination after the primary officer noticed anomalies in the vehicle’s rear area.

The utilization of a human/narcotic detector dog alerted officers to the undercarriage area of the vehicle. Officers discovered 18 wrapped packages of methamphetamine concealed inside the rear differential. The total weight of the narcotic was 13 pounds with a street value of nearly $150,000.

The driver, a 33-year old male Mexicali resident, was arrested by CBP officers and turned over to ICE agents for further disposition. The narcotics and vehicle were seized by CBP.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tijuana Police Try to Restore Public Trust

By Dan Keane


5:31 p.m. August 12, 2008

TIJUANA, Mexico – People have so little confidence in the police here that the army invited citizens to report crimes to soldiers instead. Officers are so mistrusted that federal authorities even took their guns away for a time last year.

Now Tijuana is campaigning to regain that trust with an accountability campaign to break the officers' old, corrupt habits.

Public Safety Secretary Alberto Capella proudly points to a Tijuana policeman accused of murder who was promptly arrested by his fellow officers.

“If this scenario had happened nine months ago, he wouldn't have been captured. Or he would have asked for help, and they would have let him go,” Capella told The Associated Press. “That's a clear indication of the change of attitude taking place among Tijuana police.”

See this related story! -mm

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Mexican drug gang turns to kidnapping in U.S.

Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:34pm EDT

By Lizbeth Diaz

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - American businesswoman Veronica was stepping out of her car in California when two men forced her into the passenger seat at gunpoint, pushed her teenage daughter into the back and drove them into Mexico.

Taking advantage of lax Mexican security at the San Diego border, and with U.S. authorities focused mainly on those entering the United States, the kidnappers took the two women to Tijuana in January and held them for a month before their family paid a $100,000 ransom.

"We got an automatic green light to go through Mexican customs and then we were blindfolded and taken to a house in Tijuana. They held a pistol to my stomach all the time we were in the car," said Veronica, who declined to give her surname.

An unintended consequence of Mexican efforts to weaken drug gangs, drug traffickers around Tijuana are turning to abducting U.S. citizens and residents in southern California and holding them in Mexico as a new way to get funds, U.S. and Mexican authorities say.

Mexican intelligence officials say Veronica is one of around 30 Americans abducted in southern California and taken to Tijuana since last November. Many of the victims are of Hispanic origin and hold double nationality.

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Bloody Monday death toll reaches 15 in Juárez violence

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 08/13/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

Related: Find more on the violence in Juárez.

EL PASO -- A narco-message was left by the body of a man killed in Juárez on Monday, which finished with a death toll of 15, making it one of the bloodiest days this year.

The note was next to Jose Luis Trujillo Ramirez, 24, who was found shot to death soon after 10:30 p.m. Monday near Eje Vial Juan Gabriel, Chihuahua state investigators said Tuesday.

"This is for those that continue not to believe, El flaco, El negro gordo and those who continue," stated the note, apparently referring to nicknames of unidentified men.

Notes with threats and taunts left on corpses are a trend believed to be linked to a drug cartel war behind many of the more than 750 homicides in Juárez this year.

The Monday killings included two quadruple-homicides. About 5 p.m., four males, ages 16 to 38, were killed when more than 40 shots were fired on the streets of colonia Independencia II.

About two hours later, a 14-year-old boy survived when four men were shot in a home in colonia Morelos II.

In another case, police detained four men suspected of pulling a man off a bus and beating him to death.

The rest of the victims Monday were shot to death.

In Chihuahua City, assassins gunned down Pedro Aragonez, the forensic science director of the Chihuahua attorney general's office.

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Deport yourself plan isn't going to work

Squads of immigration agents are going around the country knocking on doors, scouting out street corners for day laborers, stopping cars driven by foreign-looking people and raiding factories in search of undocumented immigrants.

It's literally a manhunt that is not only taking a toll on immigrant families but is draining the resources of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. So now it is asking for help.

ICE has come up with a new pet project. It's being called "Operation Scheduled Departure." It looks like the agency is so overwhelmed with its hunting expedition that it wants immigrants to aid in their own deportation.

This is what ICE proposes: If you are a "fugitive alien," turn yourself in. Those who adhere to this program will avoid being jailed, and they will have up to 90 days to make the necessary arrangements to leave and take their family with them.

According to Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers, this pilot program is in response to those immigrants who were arrested and deported and said they would have liked some time to leave things in order. Myers says the plan targets hundreds of thousands of immigrant fugitives who do not have a criminal background.

Now, think about it: If they do not have a criminal background, then why are they being considered fugitives? Sounds confusing, doesn't it? The government defines "fugitive immigrants" as those who have deportation orders — mostly immigrants who have been deported before and came back into the country or who violated a previous deportation order. They are the ones who qualify for this voluntary deportation program, but not if they have committed "other" crimes.

The pilot program is supposed to run from Aug. 5 through Aug. 22, and includes five cities: Phoenix; Chicago; Charlotte, N.C.; San Diego; and Santa Ana, Calif. If effective, it could be extended. Immigration authorities claim there are some 457,000 fugitive immigrants in the country. Mind you, that does not include other undocumented immigrants who are not considered fugitives, even though immigration agents are also going after them. I know, I know, it still sounds confusing.

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Official: Mexico nabs 6 drug snitches in AG office


Published: 08.14.2008

MEXICO CITY - Six federal agents have been arrested on suspicion of passing information to a group of powerful drug lords, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said Wednesday.

The agents worked for the anti-drug-trafficking intelligence unit of the Attorney General's office, the spokesman told reporters on condition of anonymity because his office prohibits him from being named. None were prosecutors, but all had various coordination responsibilities during arrests, interrogations and the transfer of prisoners.

The infiltration of drug gangs into the ranks of police and federal agencies has long been endemic in Mexico. It stands as a major obstacle in President Felipe Calderon's fight to destroy the cartels, using thousands of soldiers and federal police deployed across the country.

The six agents are suspected of leaking information to the Beltran Leyva brothers, who head one of the most feared drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico.

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Census: Diversity to reign by 2042


Published: 08.14.2008

The number of minorities in the United States is growing so briskly that non-Hispanic whites will lose their majority status in 2042, years before demographers had previously projected, according to Census data released today.

The population is surging on almost all fronts, the new figures show. There will be 400 million people in the U.S. in 31 years, up from fewer than 305 million now.

The swelling numbers will transform Americans' standard of living from the environment to public schools, demographers and public policy experts say.

"It affects quality of life in very important ways," says Mark Mather, who studies U.S. demographic trends for the Population Reference Bureau, a research group in Washington. "We're already experiencing that in traffic congestion, in schools and in our crowded coastal areas."

Dramatic growth in the numbers of legal and illegal immigrants, especially Hispanics, has propelled the increase. Annual immigration this year is about 1 million and is projected to double by 2050.

Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, says the earlier projections were low because they underestimated immigration.

"We've measured a much higher immigration in the '90s," he says. "In this decade, those high levels continued."

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Border agent wounds man near Mexican border

Aug. 13, 2008 01:21 PM
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and wounded a man throwing rocks at agents near the U.S.-Mexico border in the San Diego area, authorities said Wednesday.

Edgar Israel Ortega Chavez, 22, was hospitalized with a bullet wound in his right torso after Mexican authorities found him alongside the dry, concrete-lined Tijuana River basin, Tijuana police said.

San Diego police said the shooter was a 10-year Border Patrol veteran but did not release his name. The department is investigating the shooting.

A Border Patrol spokesman, Daryl Reed, said the agent fired his gun on U.S. soil Tuesday night after seeing the man wielding a softball-sized rock on Mexican soil. Border Patrol agents tried unsuccessfully to disperse the group who had crossed to the U.S. side by firing pepper balls and using tear gas.

There was no fence separating the agent from the group when he fired, Reed said. A yellow stripe on the bottom of the river basin marks the border in the area.

Tijuana police said about 10 people were threatening Border Patrol agents, according to reports it fielded. Tijuana authorities found a tear gas canister and fragments and two. 223-caliber bullet shells near Ortega's body.


Mexico criticizes shooting at border

U.S. says agent fired after rocks thrown

By Debbi Baker, Kristina Davis and Sandra Dibble


August 14, 2008

SAN YSIDRO – The shooting of a Mexican man by a U.S. Border Patrol agent during a rock-throwing incident west of the San Ysidro border crossing drew a rebuke yesterday from the Mexican Consulate in San Diego and a demand that U.S. authorities conduct a “thorough investigation.”

“Any kind of shooting toward Mexican territory is rejected by the Mexican government,” Consul General Remedios Gómez Arnau said. “They should have waited for response of the Mexican authorities.”

Yea, right!

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Immigrant's death splits blue-collar town

Aug. 14, 2008 07:53 AM
Chicago Tribune

SHENANDOAH, Pa. - Under an elliptical moon, the sight of an illegal Mexican immigrant alone with a 15-year-old hometown girl seemed to push the beer-fueled high school football players into deadly violence.

"Isn't it a little late for you guys to be out?" one teen reportedly asked Luis Eduardo Ramirez, 25, and the girl as they walked near a park after 11 p.m. one Saturday last month. "Get your Mexican boyfriend out of here!"

Ethnic slurs ricocheted in the night, echoing what many have muttered for years in this crumbling mountainside town that was once the thriving jewel of Pennsylvania's coal country. Then, fists flew, and one teen, an honor student, delivered a skull-shattering kick to the head, killing Ramirez.

This pocket of blue-collar America, where big band musicians Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey got their start, is spinning in the ugly vortex of the nation's racially charged war over illegal immigration. Federal officials have launched an investigation into last month's murder to determine if it is part of a rising trend of anti-Latino hate crimes around the country.

"We are reaping what we, as a nation, have sowed," said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes and hate groups nationwide.

Ramirez, a father of two who held down a factory job and another one picking cherries, had no criminal history, district attorney James Goodman said. He arrived illegally in 2003, friends said.

His connection to the 15-year-old girl remains unclear.

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Sheriff takes illegal immigration sweeps west

by Veronica Sanchez - Aug. 14, 2008 06:09 AM
12 News

Last week, he promised he's do things differently and he did.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio vowed to stop illegal immigrants but this time he went west to the Surprise and El Mirage area. His first ever human smuggling and illegal immigration operation in the west Valley began around 4 p.m. Wednesday. By 5 p.m. Latino activists claimed deputies had rounded up at least three illegal immigrants.

Deputies at first were vague about the location of the sweeps, but activists and Surprise police officers told us the target area was along the US 60 Grand Avenue, District 3 section between El Mirage and Surprise. That area included Sun City, which has been supportive of the sheriffs stance on illegal immigration.

The sheriff says he used thousands of dollars to conduct his sweep with private donations after the Governor Janet Napolitano took away his funding. Illegal immigrants we spoke to said they were fearful of the deputies and many opted to stay home.

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Disclosed Customs policy says you can be searched for no reason

August 12, 2008 - 5:30PM

When crossing the border into the United States, things such as your laptop computer, cell phone or iPod can be temporarily impounded and examined by any federal agent seeking information about drug smuggling, terrorism or national security matters.

The policies have actually been in effect for a number of years but were disclosed by the Deparment of Homeland Security on July 16. It could potentially affect anyone who owns a cell phone, students who bring laptops across the border to classes, business people who constantly travel across the border or if you simply own a pager, iPod or CDs.

Customs and Border Protection officers may examine documents, books, pamphlets and other printed material, as well as computers, disks, hard drives and other electronic or digital storage devices which are a crucial tool for detecting information concerning terrorism, narcotics smuggling and other national security matters, according to the policies.

Also, federal agents will look for information concerning alien admissibility, contraband including child pornography, monetary instruments and information in violation of copyright or trademark laws, the policies state.

Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter, according to a news article published in the Washington Post.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mexico to establish 5 anti-kidnapping centers

3:23 p.m. August 11, 2008
MEXICO CITY – Mexico is establishing five national anti-kidnapping centers and pushing for a cleanup of police forces after authorities were implicated in the deadly abduction of a prominent businessman's son.

The Public Safety Department's intelligence coordinator, Luis Cardenas, says the centers will staffed by 300 federal police and open 24 hours a day. The centers were announced on Sunday.

On Monday, Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino said the federal government has offered to help eliminate corruption in local and state police forces.

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Lawyers for Mexican say execution violates treaty

By Michael Graczyk
12:57 a.m. August 5, 2008
HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Condemned prisoner Jose Medellin looked to the federal courts to keep him from the death chamber Tuesday for his part in the gang rape, beating and strangling of two teenage girls 15 years ago.

The Mexican-born Medellin, 33, faced lethal injection in a case that has drawn international attention after he raised arguments he wasn't allowed to consult the Mexican consulate for legal help after he was arrested in the girls' murders.

Late Monday, Medellin was moved from death row at a prison outside Livingston to Huntsville, where he would be the fifth Texas inmate executed this year. His transfer came after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected requests for clemency and a reprieve.

“The board's action is against the interests of the nation and risks the safety of thousands of American traveling and living abroad,” said Donald Donovan, one of Medellin's lawyers, referring to the warning by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico of possible protests there Tuesday. “We must now rely on the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent Texas from breaking a commitment made by the president and Senate on behalf of the country as a whole.”

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, has said Medellin and some 50 other Mexicans on death row around the nation should have new hearings in U.S. courts to determine whether a 1963 treaty was violated during their arrests. Medellin is the first among them who is set to die.

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Mexican police, migrant smugglers open fire: 2 die

5:01 p.m. August 4, 2008
VERACRUZ, Mexico – Two people are dead after a shootout between Mexican police and smugglers driving a truck carrying illegal immigrants.

Police caught up with the truck near the town of Agua Dulce in southeast Mexico. The town's police chief, Jose Atenedoro, says the smugglers then opened fire on officers, starting a shootout and car chase. The chase ended when the truck crashed into a ditch.

Gunfire killed two people, while about 30 of the 42 immigrants hidden in the truck were injured in the crash Monday. Both of the men killed were migrants.

Now if this were in the US, the families of the killed smugglers would be filing law suits against the officers, who would have been arrested. -mm

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Mexican soldiers enter Arizona, hold agent briefly

By Arthur H. Rotstein


11:44 a.m. August 6, 2008

TUCSON, Ariz. – Federal authorities say four Mexican soldiers crossed into Arizona and briefly held a U.S. Border Patrol agent at gunpoint before realizing where they were and returning to Mexico.

Border Patrol spokeswoman Dove Crawford says the incident early Sunday on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, about 85 miles southwest of Tucson, was in an area likely fenced only with barbed wire.

She says the soldiers lowered their weapons after about four minutes when the agent convinced them who he was and where they were, then retreated into Mexico.

Crawford says there have been about 40 similar incursions along the entire border this fiscal year.

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Mexican agents found with cash could face jail

By Sandra Dibble
7:29 p.m. August 1, 2008
Two Mexican federal police agents found with more $500,000 in cash at a residence in suburban Los Angeles could face up to four years in a U.S. prison, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said yesterday.

Carlos Cedano Filippini, 34, a Baja California-based commander with the Agencia Federal de Investigacion, or AFI, was one of four suspects charged in Los Angeles Superior Court with possessing a large sum for drug-trafficking purposes.

Also charged were Vctor Manuel Juarez, 36, another AFI agent; Julissa Lopez, 35, Cedano's wife; and Hector Manuel Lopez, 33. They are being held on $2 million bail each. If convicted of the felony charge, they could serve sentences of up to four years.

Their arrests late Wednesday in West Covina came four days after Cedano's two top deputies were shot to death in the Baja California capital of Mexicali outside a Chinese restaurant.

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ICE takes 10,000th violent gang member off U.S. streets

Effort shows ICE's commitment to target transnational gang violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement partners across the United States, have arrested the 10,000th gang member under operation Community Shield. This ongoing operation started in 2005 to curb gang violence and weed out transnational gangs gaining hold in urban and suburban U.S. cities.

Transnational gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout the country. It is estimated that there are over 900 different criminal gangs roaming U.S. streets and neighborhoods. These gangs no longer own turf in just the inner city but have spread their criminal networks throughout suburban and rural communities.

These transnational street gangs have a significant number of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a nexus to the border. Like any street gang, these transnational gangs also have a propensity toward violence. Their members commit myriad crimes including robbery, extortion, assault, rape and murder.

"This recent arrest, marking the 10,000th arrest under Operation Community Shield, is a significant milestone," said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. "The violence being perpetrated by foreign-born gang members and associates is as shocking as it is pervasive. ICE is committed to using the full force of our enforcement authority to make our cities and towns safer from gang violence."

In a recent Chicago area Community Shield enforcement operation, one of the men arrested by ICE was Valentin Sierra-Martinez, a 20-year-old confirmed "Norteno-14" gang member. Sierra-Martinez is the 10,000th gang member or associate arrested by ICE as part of Operation Community Shield.

Sierra-Martinez, a Mexican national was in the U.S. illegally and has an extensive criminal background including convictions for residential burglary, domestic battery, possessing drug paraphernalia and knowingly damaging property. He remains in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico.

ICE has the unique and powerful authority to remove foreign nationals from the U.S., including illegal aliens and legal permanent residents based on their criminal history.

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El Paso Border Patrol Agents Arrest Convicted Sex Offender

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fort Hancock Texas – Border Patrol agents of the El Paso sector Friday arrested a convicted sexual offender with an extensive criminal history, who had been previously ordered removed from the United States.

At approximately 7 a.m., agents assigned to the Fort Hancock Border Patrol Station, on routine patrol, noticed three suspicious subjects near the Fort Hancock High School. After questioning the subjects, it was determined they were in the United States illegally and were subsequently taken into custody and transported to the Fort Hancock Station for processing.

During processing, the Automated Integrated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) revealed that one of the subjects was a previously deported felon. The subject, 39-year old Daniel Santos Amaya-Rodas, a citizen of El Salvador has several prior arrests and convictions for sexual crimes. Amaya-Rodas will be prosecuted for Illegal Re-entry and was booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility.

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CBP Officers Thwart 6 Marijuana Smuggling Efforts in a Day

Friday, August 08, 2008

San Diego – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers had their hands full on Wednesday, August 6, after they seized a total of 720 pounds of marijuana concealed in six vehicles that entered the United States from Mexico at the Otay Mesa, Calif. passenger port of entry.

CBP officers became suspicious after a 60-year-old male U.S. citizen driver arrived at the port at 4:15 a.m. exhibiting signs of nervousness. After a human/narcotics detection dog alerted to his California-plated Dodge Ram and officers obtained unusual readings of the vehicle roof with a density measuring tool, the driver was referred to the secondary inspection lot. CBP officers subsequently removed 54 packages of marijuana that were hidden in the vehicle’s roof. The packages had a combined weight of 245 lbs and were valued at over $110,000.

At approximately 12:15 p.m., a 29-year-old Mexican male applied for admission at the port driving a Mitsubishi pickup. CBP officers noticed an anomaly within the bench seating on the driver’s side. Upon further inspection, CBP officers noticed a compartment underneath the driver’s seat. A total of 42 packages of marijuana weighing about 109 pounds and valued at $49,000 were found in the compartment.

About two hours later, a 2005 Ibiza driven by a 20-year old Mexican male was referred to the secondary inspection lot where CBP officers removed about 96 pounds of marijuana valued at $43,200 from the vehicle quarter panels.

CBP officers noticed the tampered back bumper of a 1994 Honda Civic when it entered the port around 4 p.m. driven by a 21-year old Mexican male. Once in the secondary inspection lot, officers discovered about 63 pounds of marijuana valued at over $28,000.

At 4:35 p.m. a roving CBP officer approached a black GMC Sierra entering the port driven by a 20-year old Mexican male. The officer noticed a non-factory compartment within the floor of the vehicle so it was taken to the secondary inspection lot where 86 pounds of marijuana valued at almost $39,000 were found hidden within the compartment.

Later that evening, a 21-year old female U.S. citizen was detained after CBP officers found 121 pounds of marijuana valued at almost $55,000 hidden in the back rest and seat of a California-plated 1996 Dodge Intrepid after it entered the port around 9:30 p.m. Officers became suspicious after a human/narcotics detector dog of a roving canine team had alerted to the vehicle as it waited in line in the pre-primary area of the port.

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CBP Officer in Arizona Thwart 4 Cocaine Smuggling Attempts in a Day

Friday, August 08, 2008

Tucson, Ariz. — In four different events on Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Arizona entries of Douglas and Nogales stopped $2.3 million in cocaine from being smuggled into the United States, arresting four people in connection with the attempts.

The largest seizure happened Monday morning at around 6:30 a.m., when officers at the Douglas port of entry became suspicious of the driver of a 2006 Honda CRV who was attempting to cross into the United States. During an inspection of the vehicle, officers discovered 16 packages of cocaine, weighing more than 39 pounds, hidden inside the vehicle. The driver, a 42-year-old woman from Mexico, was arrested and the cocaine and vehicle were seized.

The next seizure happened a few hours later, at 11:30 a.m., at the Dennis DeConcini port of entry in Nogales, when officers became suspicious of the driver of a 1992 Ford F-150 attempting to enter the United States. During an inspection of the vehicle, officers discovered 10 packages of cocaine, weighing more than 12 pounds, hidden inside the vehicle. The driver, a 31-year-old man from Mexico, was arrested and the cocaine and vehicle were seized.

The next large seizure happened 1:15 p.m. at the DeConcini entry when officers became suspicious of the driver of a Volkswagen Jetta attempting to cross into the United States. During an inspection of the vehicle, officers discovered 13 packages of cocaine, weighing more than 32 pounds, hidden inside the vehicle. The driver, a 28-year-old man from Mexico, was arrested and the cocaine and vehicle were seized.

A short time later at 2 p.m. officers screening pedestrians entering the country through the Morley entrance in Nogales became suspicious of a 14-year-old boy from Mexico. During an inspection of the boy, officers discovered two packages of cocaine, weighing almost five pounds, strapped to his body. The boy was arrested and the cocaine was seized.

All four people were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation and possible prosecution.

The total weight of the cocaine seized in the four incidents is more than 88 pounds, with an estimated street value of almost $2.3 million.

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Doll House Has Too Much Grass

CBP Officers in N.M. Find Marijuana Hidden in Children’s Furniture
Friday, August 08, 2008

Santa Teresa, N.M. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Santa Teresa port of entry seized 436 pounds of marijuana late Wednesday night. The drugs were concealed in children’s furniture. Two New Mexico residents were taken into custody in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

The seizure was made at approximately 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night after a 1999 Ford F-150 pick up truck entered the port from Mexico. CBP officers selected the vehicle for a secondary inspection. During the exam, CBP drug sniffing dog “Moscoe” alerted to furniture in the bed of the pick up truck.

CBP officers then performed an X-ray scan of the vehicle and furniture and noticed anomalies in the appearance of the furniture. CBP officers dismantled the new furniture and removed a total of 23 marijuana-filled bundles from the shipment. The marijuana weighed 436 pounds.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents arrested

two people in connection with the failed smuggling attempt. They include the driver, 43-year-old Darcy Glaser, and the passenger, 19-year-old Nicholas Vasquez. Both suspects are U.S. citizens who reside in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Santa Teresa seizure was the largest of 27 drug busts made by CBP officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico during this past week (August 1 – August 7). CBP officers seized a total of 3,504 pounds of marijuana in those drug busts. In addition to the drug seizures, area CBP officers this week also recorded dozens of immigration violations, agriculture busts and other violations.

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Cocaine Worth Nearly $1.5 Million Dollars Seized at Calexico Port

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Calexico, Calif. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico, Calif. downtown port of entry seized nearly half a million dollars in cocaine on Monday and arrested a 22-year-old female Mexican citizen in connection with the failed smuggled attempt.

The enforcement action occurred

at about 9:30 a.m. when a female driving a silver 2008 BMW 1201 was referred to the secondary inspection area for examination after a human/narcotic detector dog alerted to the vehicle during a pre-primary enforcement operation.

At the secondary inspection area, an intensive examination of the vehicle revealed special compartments within the rocker panels that resulted in the discovery of 22 wrapped packages of cocaine with a total weight of 60 pounds.

The driver, a Mexicali resident, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The narcotics, worth $480,000, and the vehicle were seized by CBP.

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Border Patrol Foils 2 Drug Smuggling Attempts in Arizona

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tucson, Ariz. - Tucson, Ariz. Border Patrol agents seized more a ton of marijuana in two separate incidents in the southwest deserts of Arizona.

On Sunday night, Ajo Station agents patrolling State Route 85 near the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range noticed two vehicles traveling through the desert with their headlights off. Agents attempted to intercept the vehicles only to find the vehicles abandoned one mile southwest of the bombing range. Both vehicles contained a total of 51 bundles of marijuana. Registration checks showed that both vehicles had been reported stolen.

The marijuana was transported to the Ajo Border Patrol station for further processing and will be turned over to Drug Enforcement Administration. The 51 bundles weighted 1,241 pounds with a street value of $992,800. The vehicles will be turned over to Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Early this morning, Border Patrol agents from the Casa Grande Station observed a suspicious silver Toyota Land Cruiser a mile north of the border near Serapo Ranch on the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation. As agents neared the vehicle the driver ran from the vehicle and fled into Mexico. Inside the vehicle, Agents discovered 51 bundles of marijuana. A registration check of the vehicle revealed that the vehicle had been reported stolen.

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CBP Officers in Calif. Seize $3 Million Worth of Marijuana in 2 Incidents

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

San Diego – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana in two commercial vehicles/trailers at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility in Calif., Friday, August 1, in a three-hour time frame.

CBP officers became suspicious when a 32-year-old Mexican citizen driving a tractor without a trailer arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry at 3:30 p.m. Friday. An intensive examination by CBP officers revealed anomalies in both saddle tanks. Upon further inspection by a human/narcotics detection dog that had a positive alert, officers removed 10 packages of a green leafy substance that field tested positive for marijuana. The packages weighed 350 pounds and were valued at more than $1 million.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday, a 25-year-old Mexican citizen applied for entry at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility. CBP officers noticed an anomaly within the front wall of the empty tractor trailer. A human/narcotics detection dog screened the vehicle, and CBP officers probed the wall of the trailer and punctured a package. A green leafy substance was extracted and tested positive for marijuana. A total of 42 packages were removed weighing 621 lbs and valued at $1.8 million.

In both cases, the commercial vehicles and the narcotics, with a total combined weight of 971 pounds, were seized and the Mexican citizens were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and transported to San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center for arraignment.

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Agents Arrest Previously Removed Child Molester in California

Monday, August 04, 2008

Blythe, Calif. – Border Patrol agents assigned to the Yuma Sector’s Blythe Station arrested a subject with an outstanding warrant early Saturday morning near Blythe, Calif.

About 5:30 a.m., agents performing traffic observation duties on Interstate 10 conducted a traffic stop on a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier. Upon interview, the driver of the vehicle admitted to being a Mexican citizen illegally present in the United States. The individual was arrested without incident and transported to Blythe Border Patrol Station.

Fingerprint checks conducted through the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Information System revealed the subject had an outstanding warrant originating from Boise, Idaho for failure to register as a sex offender.

The subject had a previous conviction of Lewd Conduct with a Minor, Child under 16 Years of Age and was sentenced to 100 days in jail and four years of probation. In addition, the subject was previously prosecuted and removed from the United States as a criminal alien.

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Three illegal aliens arrested have a combined 69 arrests

August 7, 2008 - 5:47PM


Border Patrol agents in Yuma arrested three illegal aliens with extensive criminal histories and immigration violations in two separate incidents Wednesday.

At about 6 p.m., agents discovered a set of footprints leading away from the Colorado River near County 8th Street - "a high-traffic area," said Border Patrol spokesman Ben Vik.

Vik said agents tracked the prints for about two miles to a field where they found an illegal alien trying to evade them.

A fingerprint check identified him as Juan Francisco-Flores and revealed a criminal history originating in the late 1980s. Included were assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting injury upon spouse, driving under the influence and drug offenses. Francisco-Flores was also previously deported from the United States.

Later that same evening, a Yuma Sector camera operator helped agents in the arrest of two more criminal aliens who used the same crossing point to enter the U.S.

"They were trying to circumvent the north end of Yuma," Vik said. "The camera operator watched them enter the country illegally and guided agents to their location. It was a triumph of technology."

Silvio Arrellano-Estrada, a criminal alien with history beginning in the 1990s, was found to have three previous arrests for various forms of theft including shoplifting and vehicle theft, as well re-entry after deportation.

A records check identified the last subject as Sacramento Velasquez-Morales. His varied immigration and criminal history includes 60 arrests, using 47 aliases, spanning from the mid-1970s to present for multiple battery/assault charges, narcotics, theft and public drunkenness in various states such as California, Washington, Texas and Arizona.

Velasquez-Morales reportedly has multiple illegal entry offenses and has been formally removed from the U.S. eight times.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Mexico criticizes US salmonella findings

By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jul 31, 7:14 PM ET

Mexican agriculture officials said Thursday that U.S. colleagues hunting for the source of a salmonella outbreak are rushing to a conclusion about finding the strain at a Mexican pepper farm.

The salmonella sample that one U.S. official called "a smoking gun" was taken from a water tank that had not been used for more than two months to irrigate crops, said the director of Mexico's Farm Food Quality Service, Enrique Sanchez.

Sanchez told a news conference on Thursday that the tank held rain water and suggested that roaming cattle or other factors could have recently contaminated the tank with the same strain of salmonella that has sickened 1,300 people in the United States since June.

On Wednesday, Dr. David Acheson, the food safety chief for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, described the finding of the salmonella strain at a farm in the northern state of Nuevo Leon as a key breakthrough in the case.

"We have a smoking gun, it appears," said Dr. Lonnie King, who directs the center for food-borne illnesses at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sanchez said the U.S. officials "totally lacked scientific evidence" to make such statements and said they had broken a confidentiality agreement by announcing findings before their investigation is complete.

"We're eating this same produce in Mexico and we haven't had any problems," Sanchez said.

He suggested the FDA officials confused the source of the samples because the tainted water was found on a farm in the Tamaulipas state municipality of Hidalgo — not in Nuevo Leon as the FDA reported.

The FDA issued a statement later Thursday saying it was "surprised and disappointed" the Mexican response.

"We are confident of our findings," the statement said. "FDA's analytical methods are publicly available."

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Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border

No Suspicion Required Under DHS Policies

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 1, 2008; Page A01

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Illegals off the hook?

ICE tells aliens 'Deport yourself'

Posted: July 30, 2008 11:00 pm Eastern

Now illegal aliens can get a free ticket home by turning themselves in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement rather than spend time in prisons.

The newest government plan to cut back on an ever-increasing population of illegals will be unveiled next week, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

ICE director announced the idea to a Spanish television network Sunday.

"The program basically gives an opportunity to those seeking an organized way to self-deport," Myers told Univisión anchor Jorge Ramos.

"Operation Scheduled Departure" will give illegal aliens who don't have criminal histories a chance to turn themselves in and avoid detention.

Myers said the plan was hatched in response to illegal alien complaints. Many detainees said they would rather go home than spend time in immigration prisons.

The illegals can now walk into ICE, schedule departure, have several weeks to pack their belongings and fly or bus out of the country without facing arrest. She said the program helps illegals dodge home and work raids, but it doesn't offer incentives for self-deportation.

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49 people found hiding in water truck

Border agent spots unlicensed tanker

By Tom Mallory


July 26, 2008

SAN DIEGO – Forty-nine people being smuggled into the United States were found yesterday packed inside the metal tank of a water truck that a Border Patrol agent noticed near the notorious Smuggler's Gulch.

The truck was coming out of a construction area, its driver apparently trying to blend in, when the agent saw that it didn't have a license plate, said Border Patrol Agent Jason Rodgers.

Rodgers said the agent followed the truck from Monument Road and Hollister Road in an under-the-speed-limit pursuit that ended nearby with the arrest of the driver and a passenger and the discovery of the people crammed inside.

“For someone to actually stuff 49 people inside a tanker like this, even though these criminals are breaking the law anyway, shows a complete disregard for human life,” Rodgers said.

He said most of the 49 people agents found inside the truck's cylindrical water tank were in the first stage of dehydration. Three of the women were pregnant – one eight months, and the others three and five months.

Another woman inside the tank had a dislocated ankle, Rodgers said.

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Deportation linked to higher risk of HIV infection in male injection drug users

Medicine & Health / HIV & AIDS

Male injection drug users deported from the United States to Tijuana have four-fold higher odds of HIV infection compared to those living in Tijuana who were not deported there, according to a study to be presented at the International AIDS Conference on August 5, 2008 in Mexico City. The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will be published in the July 30 issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.

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Salmonella linked with Mexican farm's irrigation water

July 30, 2008 12:15 PM

Updated: July 30, 2008 12:26 PM

WASHINGTON (KRQE) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said it has linked the recent Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak with irrigation water at a Mexican farm.

The outbreak has sickened more than 1,300 people nationwide since April, including more than 100 in New Mexico.

The FDA also linked salmonella to a Serrano pepper at the farm in Nuevo León, Mexico.

Previously, the FDA had traced a contaminated jalapeño to a farm in another part of Mexico.

FDA food safety chief Dr. David Acheson called the finding a key breakthrough in the case.

The outbreak was originally linked with tomatoes, but officials say it's quite possible that it was caused by several different kinds of contaminated produce.

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Mexican cop killed by colleague working as hit man

Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:28 AM BST

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - A Mexican police officer working as a hit man for drug gangs killed one of his police colleagues on Wednesday in the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez, police said.

Francisco Ventura was shot and killed by gunmen in two sport utility vehicles as he drove home early on Wednesday in Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, Texas. Federal police arrested three men following the shootout, including the police officer accused of leading the gunmen.

City police declined to give more details, but Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes said the discovery of a police officer working as a hit man showed the urgent need for a "total cleansing" of the city's police force.

"We know there are officers who are in the pay of organized crime and that is why we need to flush out bad police," Reyes told reporters.

Despite the deployment of 3,000 troops and federal police in Ciudad Juarez this year, more than 550 people have been killed in drug violence in the city, Mexico's most lethal front in a drug war that has killed 1,900 people nationwide in 2008.

Daylight gun battles have erupted on city streets and buildings set on fire as Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, fights drug baron Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, boss of the Juarez cartel, for control of Ciudad Juarez and its lucrative smuggling corridor into the United States.

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Alien smugglers indicted for hostage taking

MIAMI - A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation resulted in two alien smugglers indicted for hostage taking. On June 25, 2008, a federal Grand Jury sitting in Miami indicted two Miami Dade residents Niovel Chirino-Alvarez, 33, and Lazaro Martinez-Padron, 21, with charges related to hostage taking and alien smuggling for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain. If convicted, Chirino-Alverez and Martinez-Padron face up to life imprisonment.

According to the allegations in the Indictment and documents filed with the Court, Chrino-Alvarez and Martinez-Padron conspired with others to encourage and induce aliens to come to, enter, and reside in the United States without the alien having received prior authorization to come to, enter, and reside in the United States and with holding the aliens hostage. More specifically, Chirino-Alvarez and Martinez-Padron encouraged and induced eight Cuban nationals to enter the United States, charging each adult an estimated $10,000. Chirino-Alvarez and Martinez-Padron then held the Cuban nationals against their will until their ransoms were paid.

"Targeting smugglers who prey on human beings is a top priority for ICE," said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami. "Alien smugglers have a callous disregard for the value of human life and whose only motivation is greed as demonstrated by these two individuals. Their only goal is to profit at the expense of others. We will continue to aggressively investigate those involved in this illicit and dangerous activity."

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Three charged in ICE probe that nets large stash of methamphetamine

Street value of drugs found at Orange County apartment estimated at $1m

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Three men were indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday, on narcotics charges, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that resulted in the recovery of approximately 8.6 kilograms of methamphetamine at a Garden Grove apartment.

Armando Cerpas Gutierrez, 27, and Eladio Bucio Fajardo, 29, both of Guaracha-Michoacan, Mexico, and Jose Luis Escamilla, 48, of National City, California, are charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a violation that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the Central District of California.

The three defendants were arrested by ICE agents July 8, following the execution of a controlled delivery of the 8.6 kilograms of methamphetamine from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to the Garden Grove apartment where Escamilla resided. Court documents reveal that the defendants conspired to transport the methamphetamine from Mexico to Gutierrez's residence in Garden Grove, where they unloaded it and repackaged it for sale.

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Juárez officer, 5 others charged

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 07/30/2008 12:19:50 AM MDT

EL PASO - A Juárez police officer is accused of leading a gang of kidnappers and killers that was captured after a vehicle chase by federal police in Juárez, officials said.

Federal police Tuesday arrested municipal police officer Juan Gallegos Acosta and five other men, seized four AR-15 and nine AK-47 rifles and three vehicles, including a 2002 GMC Yukon and a 2007 Toyota Solara, both reported stolen in Texas.

"Unfortunately, he is a member of the department," said Javier Torres, police force spokesman. "We are working on purging the department. Bad police officers will be sanctioned."

Federal officials said a chase began when federal police saw the sand-colored Yukon speeding on Zaragoza Avenue while carrying a group of men with assault rifles and bulletproof vests. The chase ended in the Oasis area.

The men and seized items were turned over to a federal organized crime unit in Mexico City. No charges were announced.

The federal agents were part of Joint Operation Chihuahua, the anti-crime offensive sent to Juárez to curb a flood of homicides, which have reached about 650 so far this year party because of a war among drug cartels.

At least seven people were slain Tuesday, including a triple homicide in the southern part of the city.

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El Pasoan's lawsuit altered how immigration judges chosen

By Ramon Bracamontes / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 07/30/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

A national report that points to illegal appointments by the U.S. attorney general's office was influenced significantly by a lawsuit filed in 2005 by an El Paso woman who claims she was passed over because she was not politically connected.

Guadalupe Gonzalez, an El Paso lawyer and the chief counsel for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in El Paso, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the federal government three years ago alleging that immigration judges were being appointed based on their political ties and not on merit.

As a result of her lawsuit, in 2007 the federal government changed the way it filled immigration judge positions. And on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General issued a report reaffirming that the way judges had been seated was illegal.

"I am glad that the public record is now clear that it was my lawsuit that forced the changes in the hiring practices," Gonzalez said Tuesday. "While I am glad that my lawsuit settled nicely, I wanted to make sure that we had done something to change the system. In some ways, it was an act of patriotism and I'm pleased that other lawyers can now apply and compete for the jobs."

According to the U.S. Department of Justice report, the system of hiring immigration judges was frozen after the lawsuit was filed. The freeze was lifted after Gonzalez's lawsuit was settled.

The Department of Justice report states, "With regard to immigration judges, as a result of the civil litigation over the unsuccessful candidacy of an immigration judge applicant, in April 2007, former Attorney General (Alberto) Gonzales approved a new process to fill immigration judge positions.

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11-year-old El Paso boy slain in Mexico

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 07/31/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- An 11-year-old El Paso boy was killed Monday during a highway robbery on the Durango-Mazatlan road in Mexico.

The boy, Rico Armando Bañuelas, was on a family trip to Mazatlan when robbers tried to stop the Volkswagen Jetta he was riding in near a section of mountain road known as "El Espinazo del Diablo," (the devil's spine), El Siglo De Durango newspaper reported on its Web site.

The robbers opened fire, killing Rico, when the Jetta sped past a roadblock the bandits had set up and used to rob bus passengers and another vehicle. The suspects were captured.

Bañuelas was a student at St. Pius X School and is the nephew of Monsignor Arturo Bañuelas, pastor of St. Pius X Catholic Community.

"It's a real tragedy," church Deacon Jim Szostek said. "Rico was kind of unique. Like the Spanish word 'travieso' (mischievious). He was a whole lot of fun. ... We are family here, that's why it's so difficult."

The Jetta's driver, Rey del Valle, and Rico's mother, Norma Patricia Chairez, were wounded.


Mexico ties flooding in Nogales to U.S. Border Patrol-built wall

By Brady McCombs


Mexican officials say a concrete barrier constructed by the U.S. Border Patrol in a storm-water tunnel beneath Nogales appears to be on Mexican soil and was the main cause of serious flooding July 12 in Nogales, Sonora.

The flooding caused about $8 million in damage in Nogales, Sonora, the officials say.

The 5-foot-high wall on the floor of the tunnel in front of a gate was put in without notifying the International Boundary and Water Commission, said Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the U.S. section of the commission. The commission requests that any agency doing work on the border that could affect storm drainage send it plans.

"We do have concerns about structures that are placed on the international boundary that could affect storm-water flow," Spener said.

The U.S. side of the commission hasn't yet determined if the barrier caused the flooding, Spener said. It's important to remember the Mexican side of the tunnel was old and in poor condition, she said.

A delegation from the commission, including Commissioner Carlos Marin, was en route to Nogales on Tuesday.

While in Arizona, the delegation will be analyzing whether the structure is in Mexico, what role it played in the flood and what should be done to remedy the situation, she said.

Officials with the Mexican section of the commission say the barrier reduced the flow of storm water through the tunnel by 40 percent, said Jesús Quintanar, a representative in Nogales of the Mexican side of the commission. The barrier was put up in January by the Border Patrol without letting anyone else know, he said.

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Report: Illegal immigration drops markedly this summer

Center for Immigration Studies analysis


Published: 07.31.2008

A report by the nonprofit Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., indicates that illegal immigration is down in the United States this summer by 11 percent compared with the same time last summer.

If the trend continues and the decline is sustained, "it would reduce the illegal population by one half in five years," the report concluded.

The report is based on an analysis of census and other data. It was released Wednesday.

Steven Camarota, the author of the study, said in an interview with the Tucson Citizen on Monday that although Arizona figures are not explicitly discussed in the study, he found the rate of illegal immigrant population in Arizona declined 18 percent in the last year. He compared data from April with data from the previous summer.

The study looked at U.S. census figures for foreign-born people ages 18 to 40 who had not graduated from high school or who did graduate from high school but had no additional education.

"Those are the attributes" of individuals counted by the census or by the Census Bureau's American Community Surveys that indicate illegal citizen status, Camarota said.

The CIS study concluded that increased federal enforcement efforts, immigration reform efforts and the declining economy are the key reasons illegal immigration is falling in the United States.


Mexico sees decline in migrant remittances

The Associated Press

Published: 07.30.2008

MEXICO CITY - Half-year figures are expected to show the first sustained decline on record in remittances sent home by Mexicans working abroad, officials said.

The downturn in U.S. housing construction and stepped-up immigration raids have made it tougher for migrants to find jobs, and less able to send money home. Mexico's Central Bank is scheduled to release figures on the remittance flow on Wednesday.

Jesus Cervantes, director of economic measurement for Mexico's central bank, said remittances are expected to decline 1.5 percent to 2 percent for 2008 as a whole over the previous year.

Cervantes said that would be the first such sustained drop since a reliable tally has been kept.

Annual remittances nearly tripled from about US$9 billion in 2001 to almost US$24 billion in 2007, amid improved reporting methods and swelling immigration.

Businesses in many Mexican towns that came to rely on the cash flow are now being forced to scale back — also in part because of the decline of the U.S. dollar, which has lost almost 8 percent of its value against the Mexican peso this year.

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Border Patrol agent pelted by rocks near Douglas

The Associated Press

Published: 07.28.2008

DOUGLAS — A U.S. Border Patrol agent required medical treatment after he was pelted with rocks while trying to arrest five illegal immigrants near Douglas.

The Border Patrol says as the agent sustained a 5-inch cut on his head Sunday night when he was showered with rocks thrown over the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The illegal immigrants he was trying to arrest, says the patrol, fled back into Mexico.

The agent was airlifted to a Tucson hospital, where he was treated and released.

The Border Patrol's Tucson Sector says there have been 201 assaults on its agents since Oct. 1, the start of the agency's budget year.

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Mexican military losing drug war support

The Associated Press

Published: 07.25.2008

OJINAGA, Mexico - This hardscrabble Mexican border town welcomed 400 soldiers when they arrived four months ago to stop a wave of drug violence that brought daytime gunbattles to its main street.

But then the soldiers themselves turned violent, townspeople say, ransacking homes and even torturing people.

The frustration boiled over this week. More than 1,000 people marched through the streets carrying signs begging President Felipe Calderon for protection from his own troops.

Ojinaga, across the Rio Grande from Presidio, Texas, is not alone. People in cities on the front lines of Mexico's battle against trafficking say they are increasingly frustrated with military tactics — a shift in opinion that threatens to undermine Calderon's nationwide crackdown.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission says it has documented more than 600 cases of abuse since Calderon sent 20,000 soldiers across the nation to take back territory controlled by drug lords.

Mexico's attorney general argues the cases are isolated incidents. The army says it investigates all allegations and punishes those found to have to violated the law.

But many people say the soldiers have become part of the problem.

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