Oregon

ICE detains man at Astoria courthouse

Federal immigration agents detained a man at the Clatsop County Courthouse in Astoria on Thursday after spraying people who were trying to escort him away.

Fabian Alberto Zamora-Rodriguez appeared in Circuit Court for a hearing related to felony charges that he encouraged child sexual abuse. Aware U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were outside the second-floor courtroom, immigrant rights’ advocates and the man’s mother and partner tightly surrounded him as he tried to leave.Federal immigration agents detained a man at the Clatsop County Courthouse in Astoria on Thursday after spraying people who were trying to escort him away.

Fabian Alberto Zamora-Rodriguez appeared in Circuit Court for a hearing related to felony charges that he encouraged child sexual abuse. Aware U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were outside the second-floor courtroom, immigrant rights’ advocates and the man’s mother and partner tightly surrounded him as he tried to leave.

Immigration agents took a man into custody at the Clatsop County Courthouse on Thursday.

A video of the encounter, shared with The Astorian by a bystander, Maria Senaida Perez, shows immigration agents confronting the people in the hallway and releasing what appears to be pepper spray before grabbing Zamora-Rodriguez and taking him into custody.

Tanya Roman, a spokeswoman for ICE, said she was unable to comment on Zamora-Rodriguez’s immigration status or the legal reason for his detention due to privacy concerns.

“It is actually often due to the implementation of unreasonable ‘sanctuary city’ policies that prevent ICE from being notified of the presence of criminal aliens in jails or prisons, which then necessitates that we utilize options like enforcement actions at courthouses to accomplish our law enforcement mission,” she said in an email.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has every legal right to carry out its mission on courthouse grounds if the circumstances of an enforcement action require it.”

Sheriff Tom Bergin said he was notified by ICE before the immigration agents took local action.

“We need to start supporting ICE in their efforts of when people are here illegally,” the sheriff said. “This isn’t a game. These people are here illegally and if ICE has a detainer for them or a warrant then they need to abide by the laws in the state and the United States of America. I’m sorry, that’s how it is. That’s how it should be.”

Bergin said the people who surrounded Zamora-Rodriguez were interfering.

“I’m sorry, but if they have a warrant and the guy needs to go into custody, then he needs to go into custody,” the sheriff said. “But when these protesters or whatever they were, these people that wanted to make sure he didn’t go to jail surrounded him, they’re interfering with a police officer.”

Shaken

Hours afterward, Andrea Gonzalez, a program coordinator with the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council, she said was still shaken by the physical nature of the encounter and that it took place inside the courthouse.

“People don’t have rights all of a sudden?” said Gonzalez, who was sprayed. “I don’t know. It just feels ... it feels wrong.”

Under Oregon’s sanctuary law, sheriff’s deputies and others in state and local law enforcement are prohibited from enforcing federal immigration law if the suspect’s only crime is being in the country illegally. Last year, Bergin wrote a letter signed by 15 other county sheriffs supporting a ballot measure that would have repealed the sanctuary law. Voters rejected the measure in November.

The video shows sheriff’s deputies in the hallway at the courthouse on Thursday, but they did not appear to participate in or seek to stop the detention.

“I’m not surprised. Tom Bergin is the sheriff and I know his stance,” Gonzalez said. “And I’m not saying all sheriffs are bad. But I mean clearly they are cooperating with them and they were what, OK with people who are just trying to escort someone out being hurt by these officials? People from their community? That’s disturbing to me for sure.”

Judge Paula Brownhill, the presiding judge of the Circuit Court, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier this year, after a man was detained by ICE outside the courthouse in December, the judge echoed complaints from many judges and civil liberties’ advocates nationally. “Not only criminal defendants, but civil litigants, crime victims, and witnesses may be reluctant to come to court for fear of encountering ICE,” she said.

District Attorney Ron Brown said ICE’s local action was legal. He said that people inside the courthouse could detect the pepper spray hours after it was released.

“It’s not something we like to see at all, but it does happen,” Brown said.

Roman, the ICE spokeswoman, said civil immigration enforcement actions taken inside courthouses can reduce safety risks to the public. “Arrests that take place inside courthouses are undertaken in coordination with courthouse security leadership with the same level of professionalism and respect that ICE officers and agents are committed to practicing every day,” she said.

“ICE does not make civil immigration arrests inside courthouses indiscriminately. As with all other federal agency planned enforcement actions, ICE arrests at courthouses are the result of targeted enforcement actions against specific, targeted aliens.”

Roman said, in years past, “most of these individuals would have been turned over to ICE by local authorities upon their release from jail based on ICE detainers. Now that some cities do not honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat.”

Online activity

Zamora-Rodriguez was arrested in February after the sheriff’s office said he showed up at a local park for what he believed was going to be a sexual rendezvous with an 11-year-old boy. Online, deputies had been posing as the boy and the boy’s 40-year-old babysitter.

He has pleaded not guilty to encouraging child sexual abuse and other felony charges. At the hearing Thursday, a case management hearing was set for October.


Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

 

The importance of the Electoral College

Oregon Governor Signs Bill Granting State’s Electoral Votes to National Popular Vote Winner, D.C. Clothesline, June 20, 2019:

Fifteen states in total have jumped on the bandwagon to grant their state’s electoral college votes to  the winner of the national popular vote, in an attempt to try and elect a candidate from their own party.  Oregon Governor Kate Brown has now made her state the fifteenth to join the National Popular State Compact....

The Electoral College is established by Article II of the United States Constitution. It is important to understand why Democrats want to abolish the electoral college, as discussed below.

From the article Abolish the electoral college? Dream on, Democrats, The Washington Post, November 16, 2016:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), as she has before, introduced a bill this week to get rid of the electoral college. In the below post from the wee hours of the day after Election Day, we discuss why it's not happening.... For the second time in 16 years, Democrats appear to have won more votes than Republicans, but lost the presidency. And while it was close in 2000, it may be a chasm in 2016....

So you can bet that are a whole bunch of Democrats right now that would like to put an end to this whole electoral college thing.

The bad news: They have virtually no power to make that happen -- and even they did have any power, it'd be immensely difficult.

The electoral college, after all, is enshrined in our Constitution, which means getting rid of it requires a constitutional amendment. That's a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate and the ratification of three-fourths (38) of the 50 states....

Back in 1934, a vote to abolish the electoral college failed in the Senate by just two votes. At the time, then-Sen. Alben Barkley (D-Ky.), who would later become vice president, labeled the system "useless." "The American people are qualified to elect their president by a direct vote, and I hope to see the day when they will," he said.

By 1966, Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.) led hearings on the prospect of repealing the electoral college. He was a passionate advocate for the change for years. In 1979, the Senate debated a direct-election alternative, but it failed 51-48 -- shy of the two-thirds it needed.

More recent efforts have focused on workarounds, rather than repeal.

The National Popular Vote interstate compact has been assembling states who pledge to award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national vote if and when they all combine for a majority of electoral votes (270). The effort has gained support from 11 states combining for 165 electoral votes, but so far only blue states have jumped on-board -- suggesting the red and swing state problems described above apply here too....

The Electoral College is an integral component of America's election process. From History Central: Why the Electoral College:

The Electoral College was created for two reasons. The first purpose was to create a buffer between population and the selection of a President. The second as part of the structure of the government that gave extra power to the smaller states.

The first reason that the founders created the Electoral College is hard to understand today. The founding fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. They feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power. Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers:

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations. It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief....

Hamilton and the other founders believed that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person becomes President. They believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped. Hamilton and the other founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others....

One aspect of the electoral system that is not mandated in the constitution is the fact that the winner takes all the votes in the state. Therefore it makes no difference if you win a state by 50.1% or by 80% of the vote you receive the same number of electoral votes. This can be a recipe for one individual to win some states by large pluralities and lose others by small number of votes, and thus this is an easy scenario for one candidate winning the popular vote while another winning the electoral vote. This winner take all methods used in picking electors has been decided by the states themselves. This trend took place over the course of the 19th century....

In the January 8, 2019 article, The Electoral College Must Remain, Elad Hakim states:

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., recently introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate the Electoral College. This was obviously done in response to the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election despite winning nearly 3 million more votes than President Trump....

Cohen's position is clearly partisan, will almost certainly fail, and will face stiff resistance from many smaller states.

According to HistoryCentral, "[t]he Electoral College was created for two reasons. The first purpose was to create a buffer between population and the selection of a President. The second as part of the structure of the government that gave extra power to the smaller states." The first reason revolved around the possibility that a candidate could manipulate public opinion to such a great extent that it would lead him to secure the presidency. In other words, the Founders did not believe that the citizens could make the right decision on their own. Therefore, the electorate served as a system of checks and balances. This does not appear to be as much of a concern today.

The second reason, however, is still relevant. Generally speaking, the number of electorates in a given state directly correlates to the number of congressional representatives in the state. The minimum number of electorates for a given state is three. Therefore, the "value" of a vote in a smaller state with a lower population would "count" more than it would in a state with a higher population. For example, if a state had 90,000 votes and had three electorates, each electorate would represent 30,000 votes. On the other hand, a large state with 10,000,000 votes and 54 electorates would mean that each electorate would represent approximately 185,000 votes. Therefore, this system was initially used to appease the smaller states....

While the Electoral College is not perfect, it is the most legitimate system.  It is in line with the intent of our forefathers, protects the smaller states, and helps to protect against the possibility that several very densely populated cities will decide the presidential election for the entire nation.

Hakim's conclusion bears repeating: The Electoral College as established in Article II of the U.S. Constitution is the most legitimate system. It protects against the likelihood that densely populated cities - that tend to vote Democrat - could decide the presidential election for the entire country.

 


Related

2016 U.S. Presidential Electoral votes by county:

2016 electoral votes by county

 

 

Update: The Mob Is Right Outside the Constitution’s Wall, Breitbart, May 24, 2019:

On Tuesday, Nevada became the 15th state, along with the District of Columbia, to pass a measure that would grant its electoral college votes to the candidate that won the nationwide popular vote....

This movement is being led by an organization called National Popular Vote. The 501(c)(4) was co-founded by election law expert and attorney Barry Fadem and John Kaza (co-inventor of the scratch off lottery ticket).

The objective is to have a group of states that in total control 270 electoral votes (the number needed to win the presidency) form a compact wherein each of them will agree to cast those votes based on the nationwide popular vote, regardless of how their own state’s citizens voted....

Our Founding Fathers had the debate at the beginning of our nation as to how our system of election and governance would be structured. Democracy was rejected because of the well understood tendency of a majority to act as a tyrant. While much of what was created by our Founders was original, this concept wasn’t.

The critique of democracy dates back to Plato and the Republic. The demos, as they were called in Greek, couldn’t be trusted; they would just vote to satiate their voracious appetites at the expense of others or the nation at large....

In Madison’s mind, the structure of government and the process for electing the chief executive were designed to try to fragment the power of majority.

When you read Federalist 9> (Hamilton), Federalist10, and Federalist 51 (Madison), three key elements they felt existed to help give the new United States a chance for success were its population size, geographic size, and the differing interests of the independent states. Back in the late 1700’s, these factors would all make it more difficult for minority factions to attain the sort of critical mass required to do real damage....

We need these controls to prevent the very kind of efficiency in voting that can lead to majority dominance. The electoral college is one of those most fundamental controls. If we effectively neuter it through state collusion, then we move one step closer to a world our Founders feared, and that Plato described.

For those who are wondering, Plato’s next stage was total tyranny....

The Electoral College is still right for America, by Rob Natelson, Complete Colorado, January 29, 2019:

... it is not true, as some claim, that the Founders acted only out of distrust of democracy. Rather, the system was a brilliant response to...

Having created a unique office, the Founders needed an adequate process for choosing its occupant. They set forth several criteria:

  • The electoral process had to produce presidents competent to discharge their extensive responsibilities. Not only must the president be qualified for the job, but he must be able to exercise judgment independent of Congress and of the states. Thus, those directly choosing among the candidates should either know them personally or have reliable knowledge of their character and qualifications.
  • The process should give great weight to popular preferences, while minimizing dangers of “stampeding” and other mob-like behavior.
  • It should reduce the risks of foreign and other secret influence.
  • It should balance state and national interests.
  • It should produce presidents of national stature. A purely regional executive could tear the country apart, either by his election or by policies favoring some parts of the country at the expense of others.
  • The process should discourage states from trying to increase their influence by artificially inflating their vote levels....

Did the Electoral College worked as intended in 2016? Yes and no.

It worked insofar as it denied election to Hillary Clinton, who, although the popular vote choice, was largely a regional candidate. But it failed to work insofar as state statutes prevented electors from voting for any candidates other than two widely seen as unacceptable. Those statutes also discouraged qualified people from seeking the office of presidential elector.

An end-run around the Electoral College, by Peter Skurkissm, American Thinker, February 28, 2019.

Prelude to a Revolution, National Popular Voting, by Don Mellon, Canada Free Press, March 16, 2019.

Don’t let Colorado be an Electoral College dropout, by Mike Rosen, Complete Colorado, February 5, 2019.

The One-Two Punch to Knock Out Electoral Democracy, by Michael S. Kochin, American Greatness, June 16, 2019.

Colorado Moves To Bypass Electoral College: Will Assign Electoral Votes To Popular Vote Winner, by Marc Slavo, Freedom Outpost, February 28, 2019.

Colorado Gov. Polis signs national popular vote bill into law, March 16, 2019.

Democrats Want To Kill The Electoral College Because They Fear The Constitution - The Left is increasingly comfortable attacking foundational ideas of American governance, by David Harsanyi, the Federalist, March 20, 2019.

See the 270 To Win website for an interactive electoral college map (included below) and electoral college maps of Historical Presidential Elections.


Interactive 2020 electoral college map - 270 to win

 

 

Books:

 

Moving Closer to Mob Rule: No Choice, No Voice, by Ray DiLorenzo, Canada Free Press, May 25, 2019:


Half of the U.S. population lives in these counties

 

Oregon Department of Corrections: Criminal Alien Report for the Americas May 2019

Information obtained from the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) indicated on May 1, 2019 that 811 of the 910 foreign nationals (criminal aliens) in the state’s prison system self-declared their countries of origin as being located in the Americas — North, Central and South America and the West Indies — 89.12 percent of the criminal alien prison population (Note: The United States of America (USA) and USA territories are excluded from this report.):

- North America (Mexico an Canada) had 733 criminal aliens — 90.38 percent of the DOC alien prisoners from the Americas;

- Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize and Panama) had 51 criminal aliens — 6.29 percent of the DOC alien prisoners from the Americas;

- South America (Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia) had nine criminal aliens — 1.11 percent of the DOC alien prisoners from the Americas;

- The West Indies (Cuba, Jamaica and Turks) had 18 criminal aliens — 2.22 percent of the DOC alien prisoners from the Americas.

Criminal aliens from 17 countries located in the Americas were incarcerated in the DOC prison system.

Mexican nationals were 728 of 811 criminal aliens from the Americas incarcerated in the DOC prison system — 89.77 percent of the alien inmates from the Americas in the state’s prisons.

Some background information, all 811 criminal aliens incarcerated in the DOC prison system from the Americas were identified by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and have ICE detainers placed on them.

Using DOC ICE detainer numbers, the following table reveals the self-declared countries of origin of the 811 criminal alien inmates from the Americas by number and percentage incarcerated on May 1st in the state’s prisons.
 

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Country

DOC Total Number of Inmates W/ICE Detainers by Self-Declared Country of Origin from the Americas

DOC Percent Inmates W/ICE Detainers by Self-Declared Country of Origin from the Americas

Mexico

728

89.77%

Guatemala

21

2.59%

Cuba

16

1.97%

El Salvador

13

1.60%

Honduras

11

1.36%

Canada

5

0.62%

Ecuador

3

0.37%

Peru

3

0.37%

Costa Rica

2

0.25%

Nicaragua

2

0.25%

Argentina

1

0.12%

Belize

1

0.12%

Brazil

1

0.12%

Colombia

1

0.12%

Jamaica

1

0.12%

Panama

1

0.12%

Turks

1

0.12%

Total

811

100.00%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 May 19.

Here are the ways Oregon residents were victimized by the 811 criminal aliens from the Americas.

Significant numbers, there were 416 of the 811 criminal alien inmates from the Americas incarcerated in DOC prisons for three types of sex crimes — sex abuse, rape and sodomy — 51.29 percent of the alien inmates from the Americas in the state’s prisons.

Using DOC ICE detainer numbers, the following table reveals the number and percentage of criminal alien inmates from the Americas incarcerated on May 1st by type of crime.
 

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Crime

Total Number of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers by Type of Crime from the Americas

DOC Percent of  Inmates W/ICE Detainers by Type of Crime from the Americas

Sex Abuse

173

21.33%

Rape

154

18.99%

Homicide

115

14.18%

Sodomy

89

10.97%

Drugs

77

9.49%

Assault

75

9.25%

Robbery

33

4.07%

Kidnapping

22

2.71%

Burglary

12

1.48%

Theft

11

1.36%

Driving Offense

4

0.49%

Vehicle Theft

2

0.25%

Arson

0

0.00%

Escape

0

0.00%

Forgery

0

0.00%

Other / Combination Crimes

44

5.43%

Total

811

100.00%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 May 19.

Criminal aliens from the Americas incarcerated in DOC prisons committed at least one crime in 29 of 36 Oregon counties — 80.56 percent of the counties in the state.

Using DOC ICE detainer numbers, the following table reveals the number and percentage of criminal alien inmates from the Americas incarcerated on May 1st that weresent to prison from the state’s 36 counties.
 

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

County

DOC Total Number of  Inmates W/ ICE Detainers by County from the Americas

DOC Percent of Inmates W/ICE Detainers by County from the Americas

Marion

195

24.04%

Washington

174

21.45%

Multnomah

137

16.89%

Clackamas

67

8.26%

Lane

37

4.56%

Jackson

32

3.95%

Umatilla

28

3.45%

Yamhill

21

2.59%

Linn

17

2.10%

Polk

13

1.60%

Benton

11

1.36%

Deschutes

11

1.36%

Klamath

10

1.23%

Malheur

9

1.11%

Jefferson

8

0.99%

Josephine

5

0.62%

Lincoln

5

0.62%

Tillamook

5

0.62%

Wasco

5

0.62%

Coos

4

0.49%

Hood River

4

0.49%

Clatsop

3

0.37%

Douglas

3

0.37%

Morrow

2

0.25%

Baker

1

0.12%

Crook

1

0.12%

Gilliam

1

0.12%

Lake

1

0.12%

Union

1

0.12%

Columbia

0

0.00%

Curry

0

0.00%

Grant

0

0.00%

Harney

0

0.00%

Sherman

0

0.00%

Wallowa

0

0.00%

Wheeler

0

0.00%

Total

811

100.00%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 May 19.

Beyond the DOC criminal alien incarceration numbers and percentages by countries of origin, by crime types or by the state’s counties, criminal aliens from the Americas pose high economic cost on Oregon tax payers.

An individual inmate incarcerated in the DOC prison system costs the state approximately ($108.26) per day.

The DOC’s incarceration cost for its 811 criminal alien prison population from the Americas is approximately ($87,798.86) per day, ($614,592.02) per week, and ($32,046,583.90) per year.

None of preceding cost estimates for the DOC to incarcerate the 811 criminal aliens from the Americas includes the dollar amount for legal services (indigent defense), language interpreters, court costs, or victim assistance.

Bibliography:

Oregon Department of Corrections Population Profile (unpublished MS Excel workbook) titled Incarcerated Criminal Aliens Report dated May 1, 2019.

Oregon Department of Corrections Issue Brief Quick Facts, March 2019:
https://www.oregon.gov/doc/Documents/agency-quick-facts.pdf

David Olen Cross of Salem, Oregon is crime researcher who writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. The preceding report is a service to federal, state, county and city elected and non elected governmental officials to help them assess the impact of foreign national crime in the United States of America. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com. His past crime reports can be found at http://docfnc.wordpress.com/.

Mexican citizen sentenced to 12 years for drunk driving, killing Salem couple

A Hubbard man was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison Wednesday for hitting and killing a Salem couple while driving drunk.

About two dozen of the victims' friends and family members filled the courtroom during the sentencing of Eduardo De La Lima-Vargas.

The case proved to be contentious due to the defendant's immigration status. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, De La Lima-Vargas is a citizen of Mexico residing illegally in the United States.

De La Lima-Vargas, 40, of Hubbard, was driving his truck pulling an occupied horse trailer on Mission Street near Interstate 5 on Aug. 19 when he ran a red light and hit a motorcycle carrying Logan Wilson, 34, and Jessica Wilson, 32.

De La Lima-Vargas was arrested on two counts of first-degree manslaughter, DUI, reckless driving and two counts of reckless endangerment following the deadly crash.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree manslaughter and DUI Wednesday. Marion County Judge David Leith sentenced him to 12 years and six months in prison.

Due to the manslaughter being a Measure 11 offense, De La Lima-Vargas will not be eligible for early release or alternative programs. He faces deportation upon his release.

Backed by The Remembrance Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that raises awareness for people killed by undocumented immigrants, the victims' friends and family members wore shirts picturing the Wilsons' smiling faces below the phrase "killed by an illegal alien in a drunk driving crash on 8-19-2018."

They gathered outside the courthouse beforehand holding "stolen lives quilt" banners depicting those killed in Oregon. Members of the organization Oregon Women for Trump and congressional candidate Joey Nations were also in attendance.

They expressed anger over Oregon's leniency toward undocumented immigrants.

"I didn't think justice was served at all," said Debbie Stroud, grandmother to the Wilsons' children.

She said her grandchildren will never forget the day of the crash.

The Wilsons had a blended family from their previous marriages with children ranging in ages 11 to 15. They lived on the outskirts of Salem and enjoyed camping, the outdoors and hosting barbecues. Logan worked as a truck driver, and Jessica worked with children.

"They didn't have a bad bone in their bodies," Logan's mother Rochelle Coburn said.

De La Lima-Vargas' family filled the back row of the courtroom. Defense attorney Randall Vogt said De La Lima-Vargas immigrated to the United States as a teen without education or job skills. He became a construction worker, married and had three children.

Witnesses describe swerving truck

The night of the crash, responding officers described Vargas as smelling strongly of alcohol and swaying on his feet while standing. He failed a field sobriety test and his blood-alcohol content was at 0.10% two hours after the crash.

Several witnesses reported seeing him swerving and driving recklessly, according to court records.

Two hours before the crash, he was involved in a property damage incident. After one witness called police and told him not to leave, De La Lima-Vargas allegedly threatened to shoot the witness and drove away.

He made it to Mission Street, where he crashed into the motorcycle. 

The force of the collision threw both riders from the motorcycle and lodged it under the truck, causing both vehicles to catch fire.

Responders extinguished the fire and rescued the horse from the trailer.

Prosecutors stressed that after the crash, De La Lima-Vargas did not ask about the condition of the people he hit.

"He did, however, express concern for his horse, which had been in the horse trailer at the time of both of the crashes," former Marion County prosecutor Lori Evans said in a motion.

De La Lima-Vargas told investigators his wife was concerned about his driving the night of the crash. She offered to come and get him, but he declined because he did not know where he was.

Following the crash, prosecutors said the public was at risk of physical injury if De La Lima-Vargas was released. They asked that he be held without bail.

"The defendant had many opportunities to avoid this crash entirely but made a series of decisions that resulted in this crash and the death of two individuals," Evans said.

Leith ordered that De La Lima-Vargas be held without bail until a hearing scheduled for Sept. 5.

But during the hearing, Leith set bail at $500,000, finding that De La Lima-Vargas was charged with bailable offenses.

Previous coverage: ICE detains man charged with manslaughter of Salem couple, DUI

Case draws national attention

ICE agents, who had issued an immigration detainer with the jail, took De La Lima-Vargas into custody after he posted $50,000 security on Sept. 6.

Detainers serve as a legally authorized request, upon which a law enforcement agency may rely, to continue to maintain custody for up to 48 hours so that ICE may assume custody for deportation.

"The Marion County Jail does not honor any aspect of an ICE detainer, absent a criminal arrest warrant issued by a magistrate judge," ICE officials said.

The issue of not honoring ICE detainers has become part of a contentious national debate over "sanctuary cities."

De La Lima-Vargas arrested made national headlines, with opponents of so-called sanctuary cities citing his case.

An article on the far-right news website Breitbart read:

"An illegal alien living in the sanctuary city of Marion County, Oregon, has been charged with manslaughter after he allegedly drove drunk and killed a young American couple in their early thirties ... Marion County, where the deadly crash occurred, is a sanctuary city that protects criminal illegal aliens from deportation."

Measure 105 post-mortem: Why did effort to strike down Oregon's sanctuary law fail?

The issue of Oregon's sanctuary status went before voters in November.

Measure 105, which sought to repeal Oregon's sanctuary state law that prevented law enforcement from detaining people who are in the country illegally but have not broken other laws, was resoundingly defeated.

After ICE agents detained De La Lima-Vargas, agency officials said he was a threat to public safety.

“ICE’s mission is to protect public safety by upholding the immigration laws of the country," ICE officials said in a statement.

They added that the agency was not associated with the criminal proceedings in Marion County and would transfer De La Lima-Vargas back into local custody if prosecutors filed the appropriate motion.

In a matter of hours, prosecutors filed a motion with the Marion County court to reconsider holding him without bail in order to prevent his removal from the United States so he can face prosecution for his alleged crimes here before being deported to Mexico.

Prosecutor Katie Suver said they were advised that De La Limas-Vargas could be removed from the country. Law enforcement would have no way of ensuring his attendance at future court hearings if he was deported.

"At best, the defendant would remain in 'warrant' status and the case would never be tried," Suver said.

Victims' family unhappy with sentence

Leith ruled in the prosecutors' favor, and De La Lima-Vargas was transferred from an ICE detention facility in The Dalles back to the Marion County Jail.

Family members of the victims said the fact that De La Lima-Vargas would be housed and fed by the government and allowed to see his family while incarcerated felt like a "slap in the face."

When the judge talked about De La Lima-Vargas' constitutional rights, they expressed dismay that, as an undocumented immigrant, he was even allowed constitutional rights in the first place.

Logan's sister Mariah Turnidge called De La Lima-Vargas an "incredibly selfish, immoral person." She said he could've called a cab or slept in his vehicle the night of the crash.

"Instead, he used it as a murder weapon," she said.

The family asked for a longer sentence and cited De La Lima-Vargas' previous DUI arrest, which was diverted.

Through tears, De La Lima-Vargas said he has been praying for his victims.

"I would like to ask for forgiveness from the family," he said through an interpreter.

Vogt said De La Lima-Vargas had no previous criminal history and was not dangerous.

Before Leith delivered his sentence, he said he did not agree with Vogt.

"I disagree with the assertion that he is not a dangerous person," Leith said.

De La Lima-Vargas's actions the night of the crash show that he repeatedly endangered other people, Leith said.

He said no sentence could undo those actions leading to the tragic deaths of Logan and Jessica Wilson.

"It won't be made better," he said. "It can't be fixed."

Oregon’s Washington County Second in Foreign National Crime in March 2019

On March 1, 2019 Oregon’s Washington County had 188 of the 901 foreign nationals (criminal aliens) incarcerated in the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) prison system; the county was second in foreign national crime in the state with 20.87 percent of the criminal aliens in DOC prisons.

The following table reveals how Washington County residents were harmed or victimized by the 188 criminal aliens incarcerated on March 1st in the DOC prison system with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ICE detainers.
 

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Crime

Total Number of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers in DOC Prisons from Washington County by Type of Crime

Percentage of Inmates W/ICE Detainers in DOC Prisons from Washington County by Type of Crime

Rape

46

24.47%

Sex Abuse

43

22.87%

Assault

21

11.17%

Homicide

21

11.17%

Sodomy

20

10.64%

Drugs

13

6.91%

Robbery

9

4.79%

Burglary

7

3.72%

Theft

3

1.60%

Driving Offense

1

0.53%

Kidnapping

1

0.53%

Arson

0

0.00%

Escape

0

0.00%

Forgery

0

0.00%

Vehicle Theft

0

0.00%

Other / Combination Crimes

3

1.60%

Total

188

100.00%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 March 19.

This table reveals, using the DOC ICE detainer numbers from March 1st, the total number of criminal alien inmates incarcerated in the DOC prison system by type of crime from all Oregon counties, the total number of criminal alien inmates from Washington County in DOC prisons by type of crime and the percentage of those alien inmates who were from the county by type of crime.
 

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Crime

Total number of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers in DOC Prisons from all Oregon Counties by Type of Crime

Total number of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers in DOC Prisons from Washington County by Type of Crime

Percentage of Inmates W/ICE Detainers in DOC Prisons from Washington County by Type of Crime

Sex Abuse

184

46

25.00%

Rape

168

43

25.60%

Homicide

130

21

16.15%

Sodomy

98

20

20.41%

Assault

83

21

25.30%

Drugs

73

13

17.81%

Robbery

44

9

20.45%

Kidnapping

26

1

3.85%

Burglary

21

7

33.33%

Theft

16

3

18.75%

Driving Offense

4

1

25.00%

Vehicle Theft

3

0

0.00%

Arson

1

0

0.00%

Escape

0

0

0.00%

Forgery

0

0

0.00%

Other / Comb. Crimes

50

3

6.00%

Total

901

188

 

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 March 19.

Criminal aliens from 23 identified countries have harmed or victimized Washington County residents.

Foreign nationals who declared their country or origin as being Mexico were 145 of 188 criminal aliens from Washington County incarcerated in the DOC prison system — 77.13 percent of the county’s alien inmates in the state’s prisons.

The following table reveals the self-declared countries of origin of the majority of the 188 criminal aliens with ICE detainers who have harmed or victimized the residents Washington County in the DOC prison system.
 

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Country

Total Inmates W/ ICE Detainers from Washington County by Country of Origin in DOC Prisons

Percentage of Inmates W/ICE Detainers by Country of Origin from Washington County in DOC Prisons

Mexico

145

77.13%

Guatemala

10

5.32%

EL Salvador

5

2.66%

Cuba

4

2.13%

Honduras

3

1.60%

Marshall Islands

2

1.06%

Ukraine

2

1.06%

Other Countries

17

9.04%

Total

188

100.00%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 March 19.

David Olen Cross of Salem, Oregon is crime researcher who writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. The preceding report is a service to Oregon state, county and city governmental officials to help them assess the impact of foreign national crime in the state. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com. His past crime reports can be found at http://docfnc.wordpress.com/.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons: Criminal Alien Report March 2019

The United States having a significant foreign national population residing within the nations boundaries, be they legally or illegally present in the country, unfortunately includes those who commit crimes.

The extent and impact of foreign national crime on the U.S. citizens and residents of this country is clearly revealed by a simple search on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmates statistics website under the heading of inmate citizenship.

Here are the countries of origin, moreover, the number and percentage of those countries citizens recently incarcerated in the U.S. BOP prison system (Note: The most recent BOP crime numbers available were from March 30, 2019.).

Inmate Citizenship:

- México 21,668 inmates, 12.1 percent;
- Colombia 1,633 inmates, 0.9 percent;
- Dominican Republic 1,425 inmates, 0.8 percent;
- Cuba 1,169 inmates, 0.7 percent;
- Other / unknown countries 8,881 inmates, 4.9 percent;
- United States 144,985 inmates, 80.7 percent;

Total Inmates: 179,761 inmates.

To explain the meaning of these preceding criminal alien inmate numbers and percentages, I will translate them into words:

Combining March 30th BOP criminal alien inmate numbers, there were 34,776 criminal aliens in the BOP prison system. Alien inmates were 19.3 percent of the federal prison population.

With 21,668 Mexican nationals being incarcerated in the BOP prison system, at 62.3 percent, they were the vast majority of criminal aliens in federal prisons.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons breaks down the federal prison population into 13 types of offenses. One of the top five offenses, the reason inmates are serving time in federal prisons is for immigration crimes. There were 10,826 inmates in the BOP prison system incarcerated for immigration crimes; they were 6.5 percent of the federal prison population.

David Olen Cross of Salem, Oregon is crime researcher who writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. The preceding report is a service to federal, state, county and city elected and non elected governmental officials to help them assess the impact of foreign national crime in the United States of America. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com. His past crime reports can be found at http://docfnc.wordpress.com/.

Hearing on HB 2015 is scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, at 5 pm.

Alert date: 
2019-04-11
Alert body: 

A hearing has now been announced on HB 2015, the so-called Equal Access to the Roads Act of 2019, which overturns the successful Referendum of 2014 that nullified an earlier attempt to give driver licenses to illegal aliens.

The Hearing, by the Joint Transportation Committee, is scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, at 5 pm, in Hearing Room F at the State Capitol.   If you can attend and speak to the Committee in opposition, please do.

Please contact your state legislators also, and voice your opposition. 

We have good evidence that the public does NOT support the continuing effort to erase the requirement for citizenship or legal status to obtain an official i.d. or driver license. 

A new statewide poll of likely voters finds that Oregonians still overwhelmingly oppose granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.  OFIR members and other citizens can cite the poll when contacting their legislators in opposition to HB 2015.

According to this poll, commissioned by the Federation for American Immigration Reform and conducted by Zogby Analytics on March 18 and 19, voters continue to oppose granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens by a 63 percent to 30 percent margin. Voters even more emphatically reject a new effort by the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown to override the will of the people who defeated Measure 88 in 2014. That ballot measure struck down a similar law enacted by the Legislature in 2013.

Today, 68.4 percent of voters believe that the Legislature “must respect the decisions made by the voters through the ballot initiative process,” compared with just 18.7 percent who think the Legislature has the right to enact laws “that have been previously overturned by the voters.”

OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll’s comment: “The people have spoken. The Legislature and the governor do not like what they had to say, so they are demonstrating their contempt for the people of Oregon with a blatant attempt to overrule the outcome of democratic election. This sort of arrogance of power is the hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships, not the progressivism that Oregon likes to project to the world.”

Adding to the arrogance of state leaders promoting HB 2015 is that the Equal Access to the Roads Act bill is being proclaimed to be so urgent that an “emergency” clause has been attached, which would prevent opponents of the bill from blocking its implementation through another citizen's veto referendum. “Frankly, the voters shouldn’t have to say no again. They already have – very loudly, very clearly, and not very long ago. Members of the Legislature don’t have to like it. Gov. Brown doesn’t have to like it. But they should respect the decision of the voters,” said Kendoll.

The poll data should serve as a warning to elected officials in the state. A 63.5 percent majority of Oregon voters indicated that they would be less likely to vote for legislators who defy the will of the people on this issue, including 46.5 percent who said they would be “much less likely” to vote for such public officials. Only 11.8 percent said such action would make them more likely to vote for such legislators.

The full results of the statewide poll of Oregon voters can be found at:  https://fairus.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/Oregon%20Driver%27s%20License%202019.toplines.pdf

If you need additional ideas for opposition statements, please view the Protect Oregon Driver Licenses website.  This page may be especially helpful:  https://www.protectoregondl.org/info/consequences/sb833-bad-for-oregon

Zogby Poll Shows Oregon Voters Oppose Giving Driver's Licenses to Illegal Aliens, says FAIR

SALEM, Ore.,  /PRNewswire/ -- A new statewide poll of likely voters finds that Oregonians still overwhelmingly oppose granting driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Voters also thoroughly reject efforts by the State Legislature to override the will of two-thirds - nearly a million Oregon voters - who prevented an earlier effort to grant licenses to illegal aliens, from going into effect. The Equal Access to the Roads Act of 2019 (HB 2015) would once again allow people living in the country illegally, to gain access to Oregon driver's licenses and official state photo identification.

Voters continue to oppose granting driver's licenses to illegal aliens by a 63 percent to 30 percent margin, according to the March 18 and 19 poll conducted by Zogby Analytics. Voters even more emphatically reject a new effort by the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brownto override the will of the people who defeated Measure 88 in 2014. That ballot measure struck down a similar law enacted by the Legislature in 2013. Today, 68.4 percent of voters believe that the Legislature "must respect the decisions made by the voters through the ballot initiative process," compared with just 18.7 percent who think the Legislature has the right to enact laws "that have been previously overturned by the voters."

"The voters have spoken. The Legislature and the governor do not like what they had to say, so they are demonstrating their contempt for the people of Oregon with a blatant attempt to overrule the outcome of a fair and democratic election," charged Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), the organization that promoted Measure 88 in 2014. "This sort of arrogance of power is the hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships, not the progressivism that Oregon likes to project to the world."

Adding to the arrogance, state leaders want HB 2015 to include an "emergency" clause, which would prevent opponents of the bill from blocking its implementation through a citizen's veto referendum. This despite the fact the bill will not be enacted until 2021. "Frankly, the voters shouldn't have to say no again. They already have – very loudly, very clearly, and not very long ago. Members of the Legislature don't have to like it. Gov. Brown doesn't have to like it. But, at the very least, they should respect the decision of the voters," said Kendoll.

The polling data includes a stark warning to elected officials in the state. A 63.5 percent majority of Oregon voters indicated that they would be "less likely" to vote for legislators who defy the will of the people on this issue, including 46.5 percent who said they would be "much less likely" to vote for such public officials. Only 11.8 percent said such action would make them more likely to vote for such legislators.

The full results of the statewide poll of Oregon voters can be found here.

Contact: Oregonians for Immigration Reform at 503.435.0141

SOURCE Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Southern Poverty Law Center fires co-founder Morris Dees

The Southern Poverty Law Center fired Morris Dees, the nonprofit civil rights organization's co-founder and former chief litigator.

SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement Dees' dismissal over his misconduct was effective on Wednesday, March 13....

"As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world," Cohen said in the emailed statement. "When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action."

Dees, 82, co-founded the Montgomery-based organization in 1971. 

"It was not my decision, what they did," Dees said when reached by phone. "I wish the center the absolute best. Whatever reasons they had of theirs, I don't know."...

Dees' termination is one of several steps taken by the organization this week, Cohen said. 

"Today we announced a number of immediate, concrete next steps we’re taking, including bringing in an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices, to ensure that our talented staff is working in the environment that they deserve — one in which all voices are heard and all staff members are respected," Cohen said. 

What the SPLC wants the "next steps" to address or correct remains unclear. An SPLC spokesperson said the organization was "in the process of hiring" the firm for the workplace climate assessment, and no other leadership changes had been announced. 

A message seeking further comment was left on Cohen’s cell phone Thursday afternoon.

"I’ve read the statement they issued," Dees said when asked if he knew why he was fired. "I feel like some of the things in the statement were unfortunate. But I refuse to say anything negative about the center or its employees. I’ll let my life’s work and reputation speak for itself."

When asked if he was offered the chance to resign or retire, the 82-year-old said, "I've told you all I can tell you."

Dees' biography appeared scrubbed from the SPLC's website as news broke of his termination on Thursday afternoon. 

Morris Dees, SPLC funding and civil rights cases

A Montgomery native, Dees attended Sidney Lanier High School. He burnished his marketing chops by managing a direct sale book publishing company while attending the University of Alabama, where he also earned a law degree. 

After returning home to establish a law practice in 1960, Dees won a series of civil rights cases before establishing the SPLC with lawyer Joseph J. Levin Jr. and civil rights activist Julian Bond a decade later.

Southern Poverty Law Center President Emeritus Julian Bond, left, and founder Morris Dees at the SPLC's 40th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday April 30, 2011 at the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala.(Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh) (Photo: Montgomery Advertiser)

The legal partnership netted significant civil rights triumphs. Dees challenged systemic discrimination and segregation in Alabama state trooper ranks in a case won in the U.S. Supreme Court. SPLC litigation challenging Alabama's legislative districts forced the state to redraw its districts in the early 1970s, leading to the election of more than a dozen black legislators in 1974.

Morris Dees is a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery.

Early SPLC lawsuits also fought for better conditions for cotton mill workers in Kentucky, women in the workplace and poor defendants on death row. The organization bankrupted a Ku Klux Klan Organization, the United Klans of America, in a 1987 civil case. 

Dees has been a fixture in politics since the group's ascension, though his organization has faced scrutiny in the past.

A 1994 Montgomery Advertiser series provided a deep look into the organization controlled by the multimillionaire Dees, illustrating his near-singular control over the organization and its mammoth budget.

The series, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, revealed a figure seen as heroic by some and single-minded by others. Dees' critics said he was more concerned with fundraising than litigating. 

The series also alleged discriminatory treatment of black employees within the advocacy group, despite its outward efforts to improve the treatment of minorities in the country. Staffers at the time “accused Morris Dees, the center’s driving force, of being a racist and black employees have ‘felt threatened and banded together.’” The organization denied the accusations raised in the series.

"I would hope the IRS and the Justice Department would take this as [an] opportunity to come in and take a close look at The Center, it's finances and it's day-to-day operations," said Jim Tharpe, managing editor of the Advertiser in the mid-1990s, who oversaw the Advertiser series. "It's long overdue."

Dees' central role in the organization has also led to numerous threats against him, and the Advertiser previously reported that he has 24-hour protection at his home.

SPLC a war chest of funds that dwarfs over NAACP and Equal Justice Initiative

Over the years, the SPLC has continued to amass massive funds from donors amid differing levels of scrutiny. The nonprofit has hundreds of employees and offices in four states. The organization had nearly $450 million in net assets, according to publicly available tax documents filed for 2017.

That figure easily dwarfs other civil rights groups — such as the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP — during the same time frame. The Montgomery-based EJI had about $57 million in net assets at that time and the NAACP had about $3.8 million.

SPLC still fell behind other groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union, which pulled in more than $526 million between its main nonprofit and foundation in 2017 filings, with several local groups collecting additional millions of dollars not included in that figure.

In recent years, the organization has become nationally known and scrutinized for its Hatewatch work tracking the rise of hate groups, particularly white supremacists.

It produces research and advocacy work on a variety of topics, including payday lending, civil asset forfeiture and immigration rights. The SPLC also continues day-to-day civil rights litigation, including an ongoing lawsuit to address prison conditions in Alabama.

“The SPLC is deeply committed to having a workplace that reflects the values it espouses — truth, justice, equity and inclusion, and we believe the steps we have taken today reaffirm that commitment," Cohen said.

Brian Lyman contributed to this report.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Melissa Brown at 334-240-0132 or mabrown@gannett.com.

 

Feds: Forgery operation produced over 10,000 fake documents

SALEM, Ore.-  Located in an apartment in a primarily Hispanic town in Oregoon, a clandestine lab churned out thousands of fake Social Security cards, drivers' licenses and immigration documents that were sold around the United States for years.

The operation, revealed for the first time Tuesday in a federal court document, showed that a syndicate based in Oaxaca, Mexico, operated the forged-document factory in Woodburn, a town of 24,000 in an agricultural region a half-hour's drive from Portland.

Employers, including farms, nurseries and wineries, routinely employ people who are in the United States illegally but who can produce a Social Security card or work visa. Many agricultural employers say it's not their responsibility - and that they lack the expertise - to determineine if the documents are genuine.

The arrest on Sept. 21, 2017, of Miguel Merecias-Lopez in a fast-food restaurant parking lot in Woodburn reveals how, in many cases, such documents are produced. Merecias-Lopez pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Portland to conspiracy to produce false identification documents and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He had gone to the parking lot to sell more than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of meth, prosecutors said.

Homeland Security Investigations had already been looking at the syndicate they called the "Fraud Doc Ring" before the arrest, said Kevin Sonoff, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office in Portland. After Merecias-Lopez was arrested, investigators went to his apartment and found computers, scanners, laminators, cameras and a high-resolution printer.

"The fraud ring operated in Woodburn for more than a decade and produced over 10,000 fraudulent documents that they distributed in Woodburn or mailed to customers around the United States," U.S. Attorney Billy Williams and Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Sax said in the plea agreement posted Tuesday in court documents. Previous detailed court documents remain under seal.

The Fraud Doc Ring communicated with customers using Facebook, email, Snapchat and in person, the plea deal states. Customers emailed, texted or mailed the ring digital passport-style photos for insertion into the fake ID cards, or visited a clandestine photography lab in Woodburn where their photos were taken, the plea agreement says. Customers paid electronically through PayPal, through the mail or in person.

In the apartment, agents found dozens of security images and seals used in legitimate identification documents. They also found stored digital photos of more than 4,000 customers.

The Fraud Doc Ring produced a wide array of documents, including drivers' licenses for over 25 different states, Social Security cards, lawful permanent resident cards, U.S. and Mexican birth certificates and marriage licenses.

There is a huge market for such documents. Immigrants working illegally in this country accounted for about 46 percent of America's roughly 800,000 crop farmworkers in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Agriculture. Many more work in the nation's hospitality, service and construction industries.

Merecias-Lopez's attorney, Brian Walker, did not immediately respond to emailed and phone messages requesting comment. Merecias-Lopez said in his petition to plead guilty that he has a 10th-grade education, and that he understands that conviction can lead to imprisonment and deportation.

Merecias-Lopez, 24, moved to Woodburn from Oaxaca in January 2017, long after the fraud ring began operating. He is responsible for creating at least 300 fraudulent U.S. government documents, according to the plea agreement.

Government prosecutors and Walker are jointly recommending a low sentence. For the false documents conviction, he faces a maximum 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine. The drug conviction carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence and a $10 million fine.

Sonoff said no other arrests have been made and that the current criminal inquiry focuses only on Merecias-Lopez and his co-conspirators, not on their customers.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 18.

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