Mexico

Fuel-saving measures hamper Border Patrol efforts

Budget cuts have hampered the U.S. Border Patrol’s work in its busiest sector on the Southwest border, agents said Friday, with the agency introducing fuel conservation measures in the Rio Grande Valley that have agents patrolling on foot and doubling up in vehicles.

The Border Patrol instituted the changes after the across-the-board government spending cuts known as sequestration. The constraints come as Congress moves deeper into the debate over comprehensive immigration reform and Republican legislators push for stronger border security components as a precursor to any path to citizenship for immigrants who have entered the country illegally.

 

Local deputy killed 6 years ago, suspect remains on the loose

MARION COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - A Marion County deputy responding to an emergency was killed in a crash, leading to the death of a passenger in the other car six years ago.

The driver of that car remains on the loose today.

Deputy Kelly Fredinburg was hit and killed on Highway 99 E north of Gervais on Sunday, June 16, 2007. Fredinburg was 33 years old.

Investigators said Fredinburg was driving to an emergency call at 11:30 p.m. that night when his patrol car was hit head-on by a car driven by Alfredo De Jesus Ascencio.

Fredinburg's car caught fire and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Oscar Ascencio-Amaya, 19, was in the other car and he died the next day at the hospital. A second passenger received minor injuries.

De Jesus Ascencio turned 26 in January. He was treated for critical injuries at the time of the crash. Investigators later learned he fled the U.S. to Mexico around the time of his indictment for criminally negligent homicide in August 2007.

Investigators believe he remains in Mexico. He was last thought to be in the area of Puacuaro, Michoacan, Mexico.

Last year, Fredinburg's family announced the Oregon Officer Reward Fund. Its purpose is to help find suspects wanted in connection with officer injuries or deaths in the line of duty. The reward in this case is $20,000.

Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

For more information about the Oregon Officer Reward Fund, go to www.oorf.info.
 

Border apprehensions wildly exaggerated in formula behind Senate bill, say critics

The 90 percent apprehension goal set by Senate and House bills seeking to rein in illegal immigration while establishing a path to citizenship for those crossing into the U.S. from Mexico is based on fuzzy math, according to critics.

The goal, which is supposed to give teeth to legislation some view as amnesty, would depend on a Department of Homeland Security formula for determining the success rate of catching illegal border crossers. That formula requires visual or physical evidence for determining someone got past the border patrol, evidence that simply isn’t left behind in most cases. The result, say critics, is a wildly exaggerated success rate for catching illegal border crossers.

“To calculate it, border patrol officers go out and look for physical evidence of crossings… you know, ‘I saw this person cross and I didn't get him.’ Or, ‘I saw footprints in the sand,’” John Whitley, an economist who analyzed such statistics while he served as the director of the DHS’s Program Analysis & Evaluation department under President Bush, told FoxNews.com.

The problem is that, no matter how hard border patrol officers try to find physical evidence of successful illegal crossings, they can’t find everything.

“We know that this method of calculation understates the number of successful crossings, because you're excluding anyone you don't have physical evidence for,” Whitley said.

Using that method, Department of Homeland Security data already indicate a border security effectiveness rate of 84 percent -- close to the 90 percent target.

Some congressmen are concerned about the numbers.

“To just look for footprints and have a guesstimate – that would be outrageous,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told FoxNews.com.

“We can't go along with a bill that says, ‘Hey, we have a 90 percent requirement for security’ – when there is no way to verify whether or not the 90 percent is accurate.”

In addition to not being accurate, the DHS methodology presents other problems, according to critics. For instance, an administration looking to artificially inflate the border effectiveness rate could simply call Border Patrol officers off from looking for signs of successful crossings and assign them to other tasks.

“There is no way we could trust this Department of Homeland Security to verify,” Gohmert said. “And there are independent sources that we could trust. We could have drones and other monitoring where we can find out exactly how many make it across without being apprehended.”

Other methods of estimating border crossings show a much lower apprehension rate.

“Survey data, recidivism data, and press reports about the Vader radar system all put it in the 50 percent range,” Whitley said, referring to the DHS’s new airborne Vader radar system which, during a test last winter in the Sonora Desert, indicated that the Border Patrol caught 1,874 people but missed 1,962 who successfully crossed.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

But groups that support more immigration said that border enforcement should not be a priority in the first place.

“Government obsession with the particulars of border enforcement metrics misses the point,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration analyst at the CATO institute. “We know from experience that increasing legal immigration opportunities, especially for lower-skilled guest workers, is the best way to eliminate unlawful immigration. Border Patrol should operate as a funnel to channel would-be unlawful immigrants into the legal market rather than an agency that separates willing workers from willing employers.”

Policy questions aside, the formula some say is flawed makes the pending Senate bill being touted by Marco Rubio R-Fla., and others problematic, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

“It doesn’t make sense if you’re allowing the Department of Homeland Security to judge themselves,” a GOP Senate staffer told FoxNews.com. “They can game the system, game the statistics, and then end up meeting the requirements.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he would introduce an amendment that would put Congress, not the DHS, in charge of making the determination about whether the border is 90 percent secure.

“My amendment requires Congress to vote every year on border security. If Congress votes that the border is not secure, elements of immigration reform will cease to go forward and visa programs will be slowed," Paul said in a press release.

As of now, the 90 percent goal remains only that, a goal – and the path to citizenship provisions for illegal aliens would be implemented even if the 90 percent target were not met. The only consequence of not meeting the target is the creation of a government committee that would issue a report with recommendations for meeting the target.

Gohmert says he does not want the bills to pass.

“Let's secure the border. And then we can get a deal worked out very, very quickly after that. But not until the border is secure.”

The writer of this piece can be reached at maxim.lott@foxnews.com or on twitter at @maximlott
 

Cartel towns pose challenge for immigration reform

Just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, stands a dormitory-style shelter filled with people recently deported from the U.S. and other migrants waiting to cross the border.

The long rows of bunk beds offer immigrants a place to rest on their long journey. But the shelter is no safe haven in a town controlled by the Gulf cartel. Armed men once showed up and took away 15 men, who were probably put to work as gunmen, lookouts or human mules hauling bales of marijuana into the United States.

As Congress takes up immigration reform, lawmakers may have to confront the reality of this place and others like it, where people say the current system of immigration enforcement and deportation produces a constant flow of people north and south that provides the cartel with a vulnerable labor pool and steady source of revenue.

"This vicious circle favors organized crime because the migrant is going to pay" for safe passage, said the Rev. Francisco Gallardo, who oversees immigrant-assistance efforts for the Matamoros Catholic diocese.

If Congress sends more resources to the border, the government will also need to account for shifting patterns in immigrant arrests.

The cartel controls who crosses the border and profits from each immigrant by taxing human smugglers. At the shelter, the cartel threat was so alarming that shelter administrators began encouraging immigrants to go into the streets during the day, thinking they would be harder to round up than at the shelter.

There have been record numbers of deportations in recent years and tens of thousands landed in Tamaulipas already this year, the state that borders Texas from Matamoros to Nuevo Laredo. Arizona is often singled out as the busiest border crossing for immigrants entering the U.S., but more and more migrants are being caught in the southernmost tip of Texas, in the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector.

Apprehension statistics are imperfect measures because they only capture a fraction of the real flow, but the arrest numbers are definitely shifting.

Arrests in the Tucson, Ariz., sector dropped 3 percent last year, while Rio Grande Valley arrests rose 65 percent. In March alone, the Border Patrol made more than 16,000 immigrant arrests in the Rio Grande Valley sector, a 67 percent increase from the same month last year, according to the agency.

Immigrant deaths are also up. The sector reported last month that about 70 bodies were found in the first six months of the fiscal year, more than twice as many as the previous year.

The makeup of the immigrants apprehended here is changing, too, driven by people flowing out of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The Border Patrol made 94,532 arrests of non-Mexican immigrants along the Southwest border last year, more than double the year before. And nearly half of those came in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

The Border Patrol is responding by redirecting personnel, including sending most new graduates from its academy to the Rio Grande Valley, according to senior Border Patrol officials.

When immigrants from Central America and Mexico arrive in Matamoros ahead of their trip to America, they are met by smugglers who have to pay the cartel tax for every person they take across the border.

Attempts to cross alone are met with violence. Some immigrants are kidnapped and their families extorted by the organization.

Reported murders in Tamaulipas, the state that borders Texas from Matamoros to Nuevo Laredo, increased more than 250 percent in the past four years, according to the Mexican government. Official statistics are generally thought to undercount the real toll. Soldiers recently killed six gunmen in a clash in Matamoros.

And yet, even with the high-degree of danger for immigrants crossing this part of the border, they keep coming.

Central American migrants continue to use the route up the Gulf Coast side of Mexico and through Tamaulipas because it's the shortest to the U.S., said Rodolfo Casillas Ramirez, a professor at Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Mexico City. The smugglers choose the route, and even if immigrants have heard about the violence in Tamaulipas, "they trust that the premium they've paid includes the right of passage," he said.

They continue to leave their home countries for economic reasons. Although the U.S. economy has provided fewer jobs for immigrants during the Great Recession and a long, slow recovery, opportunities south of the border have been even more limited, Casillas said.

That's why the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, a Roman Catholic priest who founded a shelter for immigrants in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, said the answer is in regional development, not increased border security.

"This situation has grown because ultimately the migrants are merchandise and organized crime profits in volume," he said during a recent visit to Matamoros.

Rep. Filemon Vela, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee whose district includes Brownsville, said the immigration-reform debate has so far left out discussion of the security and economic development in Mexico.

"The incentive for people to cross over illegally from Mexico will never subside until these individuals feel safe and until they are able to feed themselves and their families," Vela said.

At the 150-bed shelter, more than half of the immigrants have just been deported from the U.S., Gallardo said. The others are immigrants preparing to cross. He said shelter workers constantly chase out infiltrators who are paid by smugglers to recruit inside.

At Solalinde's shelter in southern Mexico, threats from organized crime forced them to bring in four state police officers and four federal ones, who have lived at his shelter for the past year as protection. Solalinde now travels with bodyguards after having fled Mexico for a couple of months last year following threats.

One immigrant at the Matamoros shelter was a 48-year-old man who would only give his name as "Gordo" because he feared for his safety. He said he had arrived two days earlier after traveling from Copan, Honduras. Gordo said he had lived in Los Angeles for 10 years but had been in Honduras for the past four. He was trying to make it back to California, where he has a 15-year-old daughter.

Asked about his prospects for successfully crossing the river, he said: "It's difficult, not so much for the Border Patrol" but for the cartels.
___

Associated Press Writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

Klamath County raids lead to 38 arrests

GRANTS PASS — More than 300 local, state and federal officers, some in camouflage gear and helmets, fanned out across rural Klamath County in the pre-dawn darkness Wednesday and arrested 38 people accused of operating a methamphetamine and gun distribution network connected to Mexican drug cartels. Ten more were still sought.

Darin Tweedt, chief counsel of the criminal division of the Oregon Department of Justice, said the raids were the culmination of an eight-month investigation dubbed Operation Trojan Horse. It started last October when agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came to the state criminal division with information about the ring. State authorities enlisted the help of local authorities and other federal agencies, and the investigation snowballed.

"We have evidence that shows they are linked to the cartels," Tweedt said of those arrested. "The goal of this particular operation was to send a pretty clear signal that we are not neglecting to enforce narcotics laws in rural Oregon counties. We cast a pretty wide net."

In the course of searching 23 homes and businesses in Klamath Falls and outlying rural communities, police also seized 4 pounds of methamphetamine and 50 guns.

The Herald and News newspaper reported officers used flash-bang grenades and forced their way in to some homes.

"This operation takes a big group of suspected meth dealers off our streets," Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement.

Nearly all of the methamphetamine and heroin available in Oregon comes through Mexico, said Chris Gibson, Oregon director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. Mexican gangs also are responsible for most of the large marijuana being grown illegally on remote national forestlands in Oregon.

The agency's statistics showed that seizures of methamphetamine and guns in Oregon have been trending upward since 2008, along with drug arrests. Seizures of marijuana and cocaine are down. Seizures of heroin and prescription drugs are up.

Law enforcement task forces report they are investigating 47 drug gangs in Oregon, 24 of which are described as Mexican or Hispanic, Gibson said.

Tweedt refused to comment on whether the ring was connected to the killing last fall of two California men whose bodies were found buried on an abandoned ranch outside the rural community of Bonanza, where some of the arrests were carried out. The slain men were identified as Ricardo Jauregui, 38, of Oakley, Calif., and Everado Mendez-Ceja, 32, of Richmond, Calif. They had told their families they were going to Oregon to buy a horse and hay. Their truck was burned.

The arrests overwhelmed the local jail, which has closed whole sections because of budget cuts related to the loss of federal timber subsidies. Tweedt said the Klamath County sheriff opened unused sections to accommodate all the people being arrested. More arrests were expected as police continued serving warrants. Klamath County Circuit Court started arraigning the first of those arrested. A grand jury will start considering indictments next week.

Tweedt said the drugs were manufactured somewhere else then distributed around Klamath County and neighboring rural areas. Very little methamphetamine has been made in Oregon since laws went into effect regulating the sale of cold medicines, which can be used in making the chemical.

Among the 19 people arraigned was Jose Buenaventura Vinals, 50, of Klamath Falls, District Attorney Rob Patridge said. He was charged with two counts of racketeering and two counts of selling methamphetamine. The district attorney's information alleged that Vinals was involved with at least six other people in a criminal enterprise dating back to Oct. 1, 2012. Others arrested included men and women ranging in age from 22 to 49 from Bonanza, Chiloquin, Klamath Falls and Beatty.
 

Cops bust two drug mules on the same bus

In what police are calling a startling coincidence, two men with no connection to each other were arrested in Jackson County last week on the same northbound bus, both allegedly hauling pounds of heroin and methamphetamine.

Medford Drug and Gang Enforcement officials said the men were not working with each other. They just happened to get on the same bus in California with bags full of drugs, MADGE Lt. Brett Johnson said.

"We have no reason to believe these two were working with each other because the packaging was totally different and so were the drugs," Johnson said. "It's clear their drugs did not come from the same batch."

MADGE received a tip from federal agents who said Vincente Gomez-Chavez had 4.5 pounds of heroin and 1 pound of meth with him on a bus.

MADGE stopped the bus on April 9 near Phoenix and found Gomez-Chavez's stash, which Johnson said was some of the purest heroin local officers have seen in some time.

"This looked like it was poured directly from the lab and into the bags," Johnson said. "It would be too pure for anyone to use."

Usually heroin is mixed with several other materials to expand its volume and therefore its value, Johnson said.

Johnson said the meth found in Gomez-Chavez's luggage was a potent type of crystal most likely brewed in a super lab in Mexico. Gomez-Chavez would not provide a hometown, but police said they believe he lives in California.

As MADGE was checking the luggage officers learned that another man on the bus also was believed to be moving a load of drugs through the area.

Officers approached Jaime Joel Ruiz-Perez, 27, of Salem, and said they found that he had several plastic containers filled with meth stored on the bus.

The meth was from a different batch than that found on Gomez-Chavez, though it, too, was high quality, Johnson said.

"He had them broken into 11 containers, which equaled about a pound each," Johnson said.

Between the two of them, police figure about $700,000 in drugs was on the bus.

"It just happened that they were two guys on the same bus line with a large amount of drugs," Johnson said. "Whoever was their supplier is not going to be happy to lose that amount of drugs."

Both men remain lodged in the Jackson County Jail without bail.

Throughout the year, MADGE periodically stops buses rolling up and down the interstate.

"In this case, we had separate tips and worked them at the same stop," Johnson said.

Crime tracker speaks out about the sad reality of SB833

The Oregon Legislature is in a rush to pass Legislation granting driver licenses to illegal aliens in the name of public safety.  David Cross explains just a few of the tragic results of that rationale.  Read his moving guest opinion here.  Then call all of your Legislators before the final vote on Tuesday.  Go here:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm to find out who your Legislators are, if you aren't sure.

Oregon's citizens and legal residents have, unfortunately, become the collateral damage in the Legislatures rush to heap ever more benefits on those in our country illegally.  It's shameful and will, I fear, end tragically for many more Oregonians.

Jose Lizarraras-Chacon needs a driver license

Jose Lizarraras-Chacon and his wife Maria Gonzalez-Torres want their driver licenses restored so they can continue to sell heroin.  By not reporting the income she earned selling drugs, Maria was able to collect over $1,100 in welfare benefits, as well. They will need to wait a few years, however.

Read the full article here.
 

69% Favor Use of U.S. Military on Border to Keep Mexican Drug Violence Out

Voters remain more concerned about Mexican drug violence coming to this country than they are about illegal immigration, and most favor use of the U.S. military on the border to prevent it. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 34% of Likely U.S. Voters are more concerned about illegal immigration. Fifty-seven percent (57%) worry more about drug violence. (To see survey question wording, click here.) Those figures are little changed from four years ago.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 3-4, 2013 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

BINGO!

In a recent letter to the editor Jerry Ritter connected the dots and got a BINGO!

Read Jerry's letter and consider writing a letter of your own.  It's as easy as 1, 2, 3...BINGO!
 

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