drugs

US car was targeted in Mexico ambush

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A senior U.S. official says there is strong circumstantial evidence that Mexican federal police who fired on a U.S. Embassy vehicle, wounding two CIA officers, were working for organized crime in a targeted assassination attempt.

Meanwhile, a Mexican official with knowledge of the case confirmed on Tuesday that prosecutors are investigating whether the Beltran Leyva Cartel was behind the Aug. 24 ambush.

The Mexican official said that is among several lines of investigation into the shooting of an armored SUV that was clearly marked with diplomatic license plates on a rural road near Cuernavaca south of Mexico City. Federal police, at times battered by allegations of infiltration and corruption by drug cartels, have said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity as officers were looking into the kidnapping of a government employee in that area.

"That's not a 'We're trying to shake down a couple people for a traffic violation sort of operation. That's a 'We are specifically trying to kill the people in this vehicle'," a U.S. official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. "This is not a 'Whoops, we got the wrong people.' "

Photos of the gray Toyota SUV, a model known to be used by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and other U.S. Embassy employees working in Mexico, showed it riddled with heavy gunfire. The U.S. Embassy called the attack an "ambush."

When asked by the AP if the Mexican federal police officers involved in the shooting were tied to organized crime, the U.S. official said, "The circumstantial evidence is pretty damn strong."

Both the U.S. and Mexican officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomatic issue.

A federal police on Tuesday maintained the position that their agents fired on the vehicle by mistake, thinking it belonged to a band of kidnappers they were pursuing, according to a spokesman who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The U.S. State Department declined to discuss details.

"We will not comment on an ongoing investigation," said William Ostick, a spokesman. "This is a matter of great significance to both our countries and we will continue to cooperate with Mexican authorities in their investigation."

The Mexican official said one line of investigation is that members of the Beltran Leyva Cartel were interested in attacking the people in the car because some of their lookouts had seen them passing through the area and presumed they were investigating the cartel. It's possible they didn't know they were Americans.

The rural road near Cuernavaca where the attack took place is known territory of the remnants of the Beltran Leyvas, a once-powerful cartel now run by Hector Beltran Leyva since the Navy killed his brother, drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, in Cuernavaca in late 2009. Beltran Leyva was once aligned with Mexico's powerful cartel, Sinaloa, headed by fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. But the groups split in 2008 and continued government hits on Beltran Leyva leadership since then have splintered that cartel into small gangs warring for the area.

The CIA officers were heading down a dirt road to the military installation with a Mexican navy captain in the vehicle when a carload of gunmen opened fire and gave chase. The embassy SUV tried to escape, but three other cars joined the original vehicle in pursuing it down the road, according to the original navy statement. Occupants of all four vehicles fired.

"This is somebody with a powerful automatic weapon just unloading an entire clip, reloading, and continuing to fire at that same impact point, clearly with the intention of penetrating the armor and presumably killing those who are inside," the U.S. official told the AP.

Surveillance cameras in the area recorded two civilian vehicles chasing the U.S. Embassy SUV, the Mexican official said. So far Mexican officials have said only federal police fired on the SUV.

The two CIA officers received non-life-threatening wounds and have returned to the United States. The navy captain was uninjured and radioed the navy for help.

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Twelve officers have been detained in the case and are being held under a form of house arrest pending possible charges, and 51 officers have testified in the case. The FBI, which is leading the investigation for the U.S., has been in on interviews of the detainees. At FBI headquarters in Washington, spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment.

A Mexican federal police spokesman said last month that the officers may not have noticed the diplomatic plates. The official said police focused on the unusual sight of a bulletproof sport utility vehicle traveling at high speed on a rural road, not on the car's distinctive diplomatic plates.

But Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said Mexican military sources have told him that "the attack was not an error," and "the objective was to annihilate the three passengers in the car."

"The same car with the same people had been going up and back (to the marine training camp) for a week, so perhaps some lookout who worked for drug traffickers informed the police, or the Beltrans" about the vehicle, Benitez said.

He said the federal police must have known that they were attacking a diplomatic vehicle.

"I don't think we're yet in a position to say definitively who did it, who paid them and why they did it," the U.S. official said. "We have been assured repeatedly in private and in public that the government of Mexico will investigate this to the end and provide a final answer as to what occurred, and I think our posture at this stage is we take them at their word."

Mexico's federal police agency, which President Felipe Calderon calls the most professional and highly trained of the country's law enforcement, has been hit with allegations of wrongdoing in recent months. In August, all 348 officers assigned to security details at the Mexico City International Airport were replaced in the wake of a June shooting of three federal policemen, who were killed by a fellow officer believed to be involved in trafficking drugs through the terminal.

Ten federal police officers were arrested in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez in 2011, accused of running an extortion ring.

Attacks on diplomatic personnel in Mexico were once considered rare, but the CIA attack was the third shooting incident in two years.

In 2011, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was killed and another wounded in a drug gang shooting in northern Mexico.

A drug-gang shooting in 2010 in the border city of Ciudad Juarez killed a U.S. consulate employee, her husband and another man.

That could be the result of the break-up of larger cartels, said Andrew Selee of the Washington-based Mexico Institute, noting that historically drug traffickers didn't want the attention that a hit on U.S. personnel normally brings.

"The lower level leaders in the cartels are making decisions the more seasoned leaders.
 

OFIR meeting this Saturday, Oct. 6th at 2:00pm

Alert date: 
2012-10-05
Alert body: 

OFIR hosts PIZZA and POLITICS this Saturday at 2:00pm. 

Senator Bruce Starr will be our guest speaker, a candidate for the position of Commissioner, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. His opponent is the incumbent Commissioner, Brad Avakian, a former state legislator who is an outspoken supporter of driver privileges for illegal aliens, and who has done nothing to curb the hiring of illegal aliens.

Please join us and ask questions about how he intends to address the fact that while over 200,000 Oregonians are without jobs, nearly 100,000 illegal aliens are illegally employed.

Also, hear from OFIR President, Cynthia Kendoll, as she gives a wrap up of her experiences at the National Sheriff's Border School and Tour in El Paso, Texas just 2 weeks ago.

Your questions are always welcome!  Invite a friend, enjoy a slice a pizza and learn what you can do to help stop illegal immigration.

Questions?  Call 503.435.0141

What happens on the border...

A recent trip to "Border School and Tour" in El Paso, Texas by two sheriff's from Oregon has created quite a stir in the media.
Groups that support the illegal alien population in our state are attempting to divert attention from the real issues and danger of the cartel presence and the related crimes, drug use, murder and violence. Does that mean that these groups, such as CAUSA, support the drug cartels foothold in Oregon?

Pro-illegal alien groups are attempting to put the focus on the cost of sending two sheriffs to Border School but avoid talking about the incredible cost to our state caused by the presence of Mexican drug cartel traffickers. Where is their outrage about that?

Oregon citizens should be proud that two sheriff's from Oregon attended, learned and can share what they learned with other law enforcement agents.

Read the Oregonians report here.

Read the Willamette Week's report here.

 


 

OFIR President attends National Sheriff's Border School and Tour

El Paso, Texas hosted the Border School event that brought 60 Sheriff's from across the country to learn "What happens on the border, doesn't stay on the border".  Two sheriff's from Oregon attended.  OFIR salutes Morrow County Sheriff Kenneth Matlack and Multnomah County Under Sheriff Tim Morrow. 

Photos posted in the OFIR photo gallery.

What happens on the border, doesn't stay on the border

Alert date: 
2012-09-17
Alert body: 

In a continuing effort to be well educated about the complexities of the issues surrounding illegal immigration, OFIR's President will travel to El Paso, Texas to attend the National Sheriff's Border School and Border Tour. The program is a rigorous and in-depth look at the issues faced each and every day by Law Enforcement officials not just on the border, but throughout the country.  Check back for updates.

OFIR President to give Border Tour presentation in Eugene

Alert date: 
2012-09-11
Alert body: 

If you missed the OFIR meeting in May, please join Lane912 and others, this Tuesday, September 11th at 6:00pm to watch this disturbing presentation showing what is really happening on our southern border.  OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll participated in a private, behind the scenes tour of the Arizona-Mexico Border, travelling and talking with experts in Law Enforcement, the environment and more.

Admission is free.  Your participation is welcome.  Eugene IZZY's Restaurant at 950 Seneca Rd. in Eugene.

Woman sentenced in DUI crash that injured Salem children's author

A 58-year-old woman whose car struck a visually impaired Salem author while she was high on two drugs and legally blind was sentenced Tuesday to 70 months —almost six years — in prison.

Paige Clarkson, a Marion County deputy district attorney, said that Rose Litherland was high on both methamphetamine and marijuana on May 29 when she drove through the intersection at 17th and Chemeketa streets NE and hit John Dashney, 70, in the marked crosswalk.

“She did not see him and barreled through the crosswalk,” Clarkson said.

She did not have a valid driver’s license and is legally blind — although her attorney James Susee clarified that she has cataracts and could see well.

Dashney, an author of children’s books who is blind, suffered a broken back and ribs, punctured lungs, a blood clot on his kidney and a large cut to the back of the head.

He was in critical condition for several weeks before he was released from Salem Hospital on June 21. He is still receiving rehabilitation treatment, but is otherwise back up and walking, Clarkson said.

“He was not expected to survive his injuries … Frankly Mr. Dashney is lucky to be alive today,” Clarkson said. “Now he’s back to doing what he loves, signing and writing children’s books.”

In court Tuesday, Litherland pleaded no contest to a Measure 11 charge of second-degree assault and guilty to driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Litherland answered all of Judge Broyles’ questions with a yes or no, and did not say anything when given the chance.

“I think she’s very remorseful, she just doesn’t show it,” Susee said.

Clarkson said Dashney’s medical expenses are more than $300,000, but asked for a six-month delay in submitting a final amount of restitution in the case.

Susee said that Litherland is a permanent resident but is originally from an island in the South Pacific. He said that she was unemployed and would likely be deported so expressed doubts about her ability to pay.

“I’m hopeful that Mr. Dashney won’t have to suffer a financial loss,” Clarkson said. She said, however, that she will work to make sure that Litherland is held accountable for the costs.

Report cites I-5 as major drug corridor

Illegal drugs continue to be a major problem for the state of Oregon — the manufacture of them, the use of them, the illicit sale of them and even their transportation, according to a report from the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.

Between January 2008 and the end of March 2012, authorities traced nearly $10 million in drug money seizures back to Oregon.

The connection to the state was determined through certain conditions: either the vehicle used for drug transportation or the driver’s license was registered to an Oregon address.

According to the HIDTA report, 464 incidents of drug or cash seizures could be traced back to Oregon. The most common states in which said incidents occurred were California, Nebraska and Kansas.

However, when considering the pounds of marijuana heading east, four states stand out: South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa.

The reason for Oregon’s high amount of seizures, authorities said, is the state’s location on a prime drug route — Interstate 5.

“Oregon sits on one of a number of major drug corridors,” said Chris Gibson, director of the Oregon HIDTA. “Drugs coming from Mexico and drug trafficking organizations are either being dropped here or distributed with portions being dropped here.”

I-5 connects Canada, Mexico and the states in between in a single vein of traffic, making it an ideal route for drug traffickers. In addition, many of Oregon’s other highways run east to other outlying states. The report cited Highways 97 and 395 as major examples.

These connecting highways, in addition to a drug demand in Oregon, make the state appealing for drug traffickers, Gibson said.

“I think Oregon has its own demand problem,” he said. “We just happen to have that distinction of sitting on I-5, which is the pipeline from Mexico both ways. It’s natural for drugs to make it up this way and then head east, but a lot of it is being left behind in the state.”

The two most frequently trafficked drugs noted by HIDTA are marijuana and controlled prescription drugs. Between the two, more than 60,000 incidents of seizures were connected to Oregon during a four-year period.

Gibson said it’s important to note that although it appears the connections point to the drugs being physically located in Oregon at some point, that’s not necessarily true.

“For instance, you could have a person from Salem who, for whatever reason, grabs a load in Idaho and takes it East,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily connect the drugs that were being in Oregon at that point, I would say, with the exception primarily of marijuana.”

Southern Oregon continues to house a large amount of domestically-grown marijuana, Gibson said. More seizures of marijuana trafficking occurred on I-5 headed north than in any other direction or any other drug, according to the report.

Officials in Salem have a particular concern about marijuana because the drug frequently serves as a gateway into harder drugs, such as heroin, according to Lt. Dave Okada, spokesman for the Salem Police.

“A lot of it is marijuana leading to abuse of prescription drugs that leads to the heroin,” he said. “I don’t know if that has a correlation to the proximity of I-5, but our street crimes team is telling me that the vast majority of people they deal with on addiction issues say they started with marijuana.”

An Oregon State Police traffic stop north of Lakeview in 2011 led to the discovery of 50 pounds of marijuana. / Photo courtesy of Oregon State Police

OSP Traffic Stop Leads to Seizure of 2 lbs of Heroin, Arrests of 3 People in Douglas and Yamhill Counties

A traffic stop Saturday morning by Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers on Interstate 5 north of Canyonville led to the arrest of two men after the discovery of approximately 2 pounds of heroin concealed in their vehicle. Follow up investigation by OSP Drug Enforcement Section detectives and troopers also led to the arrest of a wanted person in Newberg.

On September 1, 2012 at approximately 7:09 a.m. an OSP trooper stopped a 2004 Chevrolet Impala displaying Washington license plates northbound on Interstate 5 near milepost 102 for a speed violation. The two occupants were identified as driver VICTOR HUGO BARRAGAN ALCAZAR, age 18, and passenger ARMANDO GIOVANI VALENCIA, age 18, both from Vancouver, Washington.

Subsequent investigation with the assistance of an OSP drug detection canine led to the discovery of approximately 2 pounds of heroin concealed in the car's trunk with an estimated value of $70,000.

Both men were taken into custody for Unlawful Possession and Distribution of Heroin. They were later cited and released to appear at a future date on the charges in Douglas County Circuit Court.

The investigation led OSP Drug Enforcement Section detectives and OSP troopers to Newberg. With the assistance of Newberg Police, OSP arrested ENRIQUE BOTELLO SANCHEZ, age 31, from Vancouver, Washington on September 2nd for an outstanding Fail to Appear Warrant (DUII, Resisting Arrest). Charges are pending for SANCHEZ related to the initial traffic stop and heroin seizure.

 

Report: County is near top for drug abuse

It came as no surprise to Jackson County's narcotics officers and addiction treatment specialists that the region ranks high in Oregon in meth and prescription drug abuse.

The numbers come from a report released this week by the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, or HIDTA.

The report noted that Jackson County has most people per capita who seek treatment for prescription medication abuse. The county also ranks second, behind Umatilla County, in the number of people per 10,000 who are treated for methamphetamine addiction.

"This number is both good and bad in the sense that people are getting into treatment and there could be a light at the end of the tunnel to their addiction," said Medford police Deputy Chief Tim Doney, who also heads the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team.

"The bad news the report brings is that it drives home that there remains a large drug problem in our community."

The report said that just more than 30 people for every 10,000 in Jackson County have sought treatment for meth addiction.

Medford police Chief Tim George said that meth continues to pour into the region despite the Legislature's efforts to limit the sales of pseudoephedrine, a primary component in meth.

"It's shocking how much meth is transported into this area," George said. "It makes you wonder about the security of our border, because most of this meth is coming here from criminal organizations based in Mexico."

The HIDTA report said the number of meth labs seized in Oregon has plummeted since the Legislature took pseudoephedrine off the counter in 2004.

The supply was quickly buttressed by cartels in Mexico, who can produce meth by the ton and ship it across the United States.

"We are on the receiving end of powder drugs here," Doney said. "But in reference to marijuana, we are a source region."

The HIDTA report backs up Doney's claim by reporting that marijuana grown in Oregon is commonly found in the Midwest and South.

A large portion of this marijuana is diverted illegally from Oregon medical marijuana gardens and sold on the black market, George said.

"Our marijuana goes across the nation," Doney said. "That's just a fact of life."

Another disturbing tidbit listed in the report is the increase in heroin use among Oregon teens.

George argues that a smokeable form of heroin, known as "gunpowder," has taken away the stigma of a drug that once was associated with needles.

"You can now smoke it and not deal with needles," George said. "We are seeing that this is particularly popular with young people."

Earlier this year MADGE seized 49 pounds of heroin at a local bus station. Oregon State Police found 55 pounds during a car stop last week on Interstate 5 near Ashland.

"Without a doubt, heroin is on the rise here locally and throughout the state," George said.

In another piece of bleak news, HIDTA reported that drug-related deaths spiked across the state in 2011, with fatalities inching up 20 percent above 2010's numbers.

In all, 240 people died of drug overdoses in Oregon in 2011.

JACKSON COUNTY AND DRUG ABUSE

Per capita comparison of drug treatment admissions per 10,000 residents by county:

Jackson County

Heroin — 20

Prescription drugs — 31

Meth — 32

Marijuana — 40

Multnomah (includes Portland)

Prescription drugs — 25

Meth — 29

Marijuana — 40

Heroin — 60

Number of illegal marijuana plants eradicated by police by county for 2011:

Jackson County

Indoor — 383

Outdoor — 2,872

Josephine County

Indoor — 794

Outdoor — 577

Deschutes County

Indoor — 357

Outdoor — 0

Douglas County

Indoor — 52

Outdoor — 86

Meth lab seizures in Oregon since 2004

2004 — 448

2005 — 192

2006 — 62

2007 — 20

2008 — 21

2009 — 13

2010 — 13

2011 — 10 (2 in Jackson County)

 

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