Mexico

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.
 

Border Patrol agent shot, killed on patrol in Ariz

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and another wounded in a shooting early Tuesday in Arizona near the U.S.-Mexico line, according to the Border Patrol.

The agents were shot while patrolling on horseback in Naco, Ariz., at about 1:50 a.m. MST Tuesday, the Border Patrol said in a statement.

The agents who were shot were on patrol with a third agent, who was not harmed, according to George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing about 17,000 border patrol agents.

The shooting occurred after an alarm was triggered on one of the many sensors along the border and the three agents went to investigate, said Cochise County Sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas.

Authorities have not identified any suspects, Capas said. It is not known whether the agents returned fire, she said.

The wounded agent was airlifted to a hospital after being shot in the ankle and buttocks, the Border Patrol said. He is in surgery and expected to recover, McCubbin said.

Authorities have not identified the agents who were assigned to the Naco station, about 100 miles southeast of Tucson.

The last U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot on duty was Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout with Mexican bandits near the border in December 2010. The shooting was later linked to the Fast and Furious gun smuggling operation.

The border patrol station in Naco was recently named after Terry.

The FBI, which also is investigating the shooting, did not immediately return calls Tuesday.
 

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.

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

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)

 

Suspect in Marion County officer's 2007 death sought in Mexico

Although Donald Abar wanted to locally prosecute the man who investigators say is responsible for the death of a Marion County sheriff’s deputy, the decision was out of his hands.

The suspect in the 2007 death of deputy Kelly Fredinburg, Alfredo De Jesus Ascencio, faces two counts of criminal negligence. De Jesus Ascencio, however, is thought to be in Mexico and those crimes are not extridictable.

So the Marion County deputy district attorney announced Monday that the agency is working with Mexican authorities to prosecute De Jesus Ascencio, 25, and that a warrant has been issued in Mexico for his arrest.

“We wanted prosecution here because this is an Oregon case. It happened in our community, Kelly Fredinburg was part of our community, it was kind of a personal thing,” Abar said. “This came to the point where it’s just not going to happen.”

The Marion County District Attorney’s Office plans to charge the case through Article Four prosecution, a unique Mexican statute which allows Mexican citizens who commit crimes in foreign territories to be prosecuted in Mexico.

De Jesus Ascencio was indicted locally on the charges in August 2007 after a head-on traffic crash that occurred in June 2007 on Highway 99E near Gervais. The crash left two people dead: Fredinburg and Ocar Ascencio-Amaya, 19, of Woodburn.

Fredinburg was driving south on Highway 99E en route to an emergency call in Gervais with lights and sirens activated. De Jesus Ascencio was driving north and crossed into the southbound traffic lane, hitting Fredinburg head-on, police said.

Ascencio-Amaya was the suspect’s cousin and was a passenger in his vehicle at the time of the crash.

De Jesus Ascencio was taken to Oregon Health and Science University hospital in Portland where he stayed for several weeks. However, authorities were not able to locate him after his release from the hospital in mid-June.

Abar said that officials think De Jesus Ascencio is in Mexico and that prosecutors have been working with Mexican authorities in locating him.

The warrant, Abar said, has been valid since 2011. Investigators and prosecutors did not alert the public of the development at that time because they worried it would alert De Jesus Ascencio, Abar said. However, Mexican authorities have since mistakenly arrested one of De Jesus Ascencio’s relatives for the charges, and Abar said investigators now think he is aware of the warrant’s existence, so they are making it public.

Sheriff Jason Myers said that Fredinburg’s death was felt by the community and sheriff’s office.

“We’re very, very hopeful that the victim’s family will find some peace in knowing that we haven’t given up and that someone will come forward with the information we need to arrest this fugitive,” Myers said.

Kevin Fredinburg, brother of the fallen deputy, also announced at the press conference that they have established the Oregon Officer Reward Fund, a $20,000 reward offered for information that leads to the arrest of De Jesus Ascencio.

“I can’t relax until he’s caught ... this is one thing I can do that is legal to make that happen,” Kevin Fredinburg said. “It’s time to close this. I’ve been impatient for a long time.”

The fund will exist even when his brother’s case is closed, Fredinburg said. The fund, which will be donation-driven, offers rewards for assistance in future cases that involve the death or critical injury of an officer.

“I’ll stay with it until the day I die, I believe in it that strongly,” Fredinburg said.

$20,000 Reward Announced in Search for Suspect Sought in June 2007 Traffic Death of Marion Co. Deputy and Second Person
Oregon State Police - 08/06/12

Anyone with information related to this investigation to help locate De JESUS ASCENCIO can report tips by phone at:

* In Oregon, call 800-452-7888
* From anywhere in the United States for English and Spanish speakers to the Crime Stoppers Tip Line, refer to case #07-28, (bilingual call takers), call 1-503-823-4357
* Residents within Mexico can call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line, refer to case #07-28, (bilingual call takers) at 00-1-503-823-4357
* Residents within Mexico can call the Specialized Unit Against Crimes Committed Abroad (UEDE) at 0-1-555-346-1669

Email tips can be sent to: crimetips20SP@state.or,us .

Heavily-armed Texas gunboats now patrol Rio Grande

SOUTH TEXAS -- Ask Kyle McCarty where he worked just a few months ago and he’ll tell you about patrolling the roads around Odessa as a state trooper.

"Yes, sir," says McCarty, an affable young man with a Texas twang just two years into his career with the Department of Public Safety. "Just regular road crew, black and white."

Today, he’s patrolling a place utterly unlike the highways of the Texas Panhandle, piloting an armored gunboat bristling with automatic weapons around the Rio Grande, watching out for drug runners.

Call him one of the new cops on the border beat, zipping around the water in a shallow water boat that looks more like a military vehicle driving the streets of Baghdad. Surrounding him is a crew of fellow troopers who usually wear flak jackets as they man large-caliber machine guns that can fire up to 900 rounds a minute.

"Typically, the boats operating in the Rio Grande River are operating with six M-240, 30-caliber automatic machine guns," explains Lt. Charley Goble, the DPS officer in command of the newly deployed force of gunboats on the Rio Grande.

Texas now has a small navy of gunboats patrolling the Rio Grande and the Intercoastal Waterway. Right now, the DPS has four of the 34-foot shallow water vessels, but the fleet will soon grow to six. Each of the boats, equipped with armor-plating, night vision equipment and a small arsenal of weaponry, costs about $580,000 in state and federal funds.

Troopers patrolling the border say the expense is justified, considering the ruthless nature of their adversaries in the Mexican drug cartels. What they fear, more than anything else, is the prospect of an ambush.

"They’ve got radios, they’ve got their telephones, there’s somebody right here in this abandoned house right here," Goble says, gesturing to people hanging around on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. "There’s somebody there now. They’re watching what we’re doing."

They’re watching, troopers explain, mainly because they’re providing real-time intelligence to smugglers who dump bales of drugs into the river and let the current carry them to the U.S. shoreline. Smugglers typically steal trucks in south Texas, load them up with drugs on the river and drive inland.

If they’re caught close to the border, many of the smugglers make a run back to the river, speeding down the dusty roads and crashing their trucks into the water. Then they climb out of their vehicles and quickly unload their contraband cargo, helped by confederates splashing into the river from the Mexican side. They haul their bales of dope back onto the dry land in Mexico, ready to try again another day.

"They fear Texas law enforcement, but not as much as they fear going back and saying they’ve lost their load," Goble says. "Everything’s at stake. They will go to any extreme to get away from law enforcement and to get the contraband back to the owner."

The desperate flights back to the river happen so often, troopers have nicknamed them "splashdowns." Law enforcement authorities have recorded more than 60 of these escapes in the last three years. Troopers point out rusting hulks of abandoned trucks on the U.S. shore where fleeing smugglers have abandoned their stolen vehicles.

So the cat and mouse game on the border continues. Troopers now watch for smugglers from their heavily armed gunboats. And smugglers position spotters to watch for the gunboats.

"They’re in constant communication," Goble says. "If they see us operating in a particular location on the river, they’ll just push it 10 miles either end of us. They’ve got their techniques down to a science, almost. They can move a load of dope across the river in just a matter of minutes. And they can have it completed prior to us even arriving."

 

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