Mexico

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

Alert date: 
September 17, 2012
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: 
September 11, 2012
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."

 

Fifteen arrested in multi-agency drug sweep

Approximately 90 city, state and federal police officers swarmed across the Rogue Valley Thursday in one of the largest methamphetamine busts in recent history.

Fifteen people were lodged in the Jackson County Jail on felony drug charges as part of Operation Clear Green, which focused on a group responsible for selling pounds of meth per week, Medford police Lt. Brett Johnson said.

A yearlong investigation into the group turned up enough evidence for eight search warrants served in Medford, Eagle Point, White City and Central Point on Thursday, Johnson said.

"We've been watching this organization closely since we first learned about them last year," Johnson said.

The case began last summer when Jackson County sheriff's deputies raided a large outdoor marijuana garden. A thousand plants were pulled from the garden by the Southern Oregon Multi-Agency Marijuana Eradication (SOMMER) team.

SOMMER then shared their findings with the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE) team during a briefing. The teams found that many of the same suspects appeared in two separate drug investigations headed by both agencies, Johnson said.

Over the past year, SOMMER and MADGE learned that a large group of suspects were working together to move meth throughout the county.

The agencies brought in officers from the Talent, Ashland, Central Point, Phoenix, Oregon State Police, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to serve warrants at eight locations tied to the drug traffickers Thursday morning.

The drug houses were located on McLoughlin Drive in Central Point, Yankee Creek Road in Eagle Point and Vilas Road in Medford.

The warrants turned up 3 pounds of methamphetamine, marijuana plants, an ounce of heroin, a small amount of cocaine, 1 pound of dried marijuana, three handguns, two rifles and $30,000 in cash, believed to be proceeds from drug sales.

Among those arrested were:

- Benardo Parra-Chavez, 28, of Central Point, was arrested on eight counts of delivery of methamphetamine and eight counts of manufacture of methamphetamine. He was lodged in jail on $4 million bail [Illegal Alien].

- Stephanie Huff, 23, of Medford, was charged with delivery of methamphetamine, manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and first-degree child neglect. She was lodged in jail on $530,000 bail.

- Juan Garcia-Ledezma, 28, of Medford, was charged with five counts of delivery of methamphetamine and five counts of possession of methamphetamine. He was lodged on $2,550,000 bail [Illegal Alien].

- Hugo Flores-Galvan, 25, of Medford was charged with delivery, possession, manufacture of methamphetamine and marijuana. He was lodged in jail on more than $1 million bail [Illegal Alien].

- Antonio Alonzo-Gomez, 43, of Medford, was charged with three counts each of delivery, manufacture and possession of methamphetamine. He was lodged on more than $1 million bail.

- Hector Saldana-Madrigal, 38, of White City, was charged with delivery and possession of methamphetamine. He was lodged on $510,000 bail [Illegal Alien].

- Victor Zaragosa-Infante, 53, of Medford, was charged with two counts each of delivery and possession of methamphetamine. He was lodged on more than $1 million bail.

- Jose Zamora-Tovar, 48, of White City, was charged with delivery, manufacture and possession of methamphetamine. He was lodged on $60,000 bail [Illegal Alien].

- Julie Nichole Parke, 33, of Eagle Point, was charged with possession of methamphetamine. She was lodged on $10,000 bail.

- Bernie George Helms, 21, no known address, was charged with a probation violation. He was lodged on $5,000 bail.

- Jeffrey Baltazar, 35, Victor Solis-Guzman, 24 and Alberto Salcedo-Jimenez, 28, all of Medford, were cited and released for possession of methamphetamine.

In addition, two juveniles were arrested on probation violations and lodged at the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center in Medford.

Oregon's governor should be working for Oregon families, Oregon jobs and Oregon citizens...

Governor John Kitzhaber, has just issued a proclamation. Oregon State Police will now have to accept the Mexican Matricular card in lieu of a valid Oregon State driver license if an illegal alien is questioned by State Police.

The FBI, in testimony before a House Subcommittee on Immigration, stated that the Matricular card is not a reliable form of identification and poses, “major criminal threats and potential terrorist threats.” Apparently not a problem for the Governor; He always has state police escorts to protect him.

Think of the problem that this will present to Oregon State Police. If they pull over a speeding or drunk driver and they present a Mexican Matricular card, how can the trooper check on his driving record? There is no driving record available on Matricular cards. Maybe we should all sign up to become an illegal alien.

In 2008 the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1080. SB 1080 required that only people legally in the U.S. could receive an Oregon Driver license. The Governor seems to think that he can over rule state laws by issuing edicts.

 

US counters drug smugglers in Mexican newspapers

The war on drugs is going to the classified sections of Mexican newspapers.

Smugglers have long advertised work as security guards, house cleaners and cashiers, telling applicants they must drive company cars to the United States. They aren't told the cars are loaded with drugs.

Starting this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement began buying ad space in Tijuana newspapers to warn job seekers they might be unwitting pawns.

"Why don't we do the same thing that (cartels are) doing? It's successful for them. Why wouldn't it be successful for us?" Lester Hayes, a group supervisor for ICE in San Diego, recalls his agents telling him.

There have been 39 arrests since February 2011 at San Diego's two border crossings tied to the ads for seemingly legitimate jobs, according to ICE, which hadn't seen such significant numbers before.

Those arrests have yielded 3,400 pounds of marijuana, 75 pounds of cocaine and 100 pounds of methamphetamine _ a tiny fraction of total seizures but enough to convince U.S. authorities that smugglers are increasingly turning to the recruitment technique.

Drug smugglers always look to exploit weak links along the 1,954-mile border, even if the window of opportunity is brief. In the past several years, they have turned to makeshift boats on the Pacific Ocean and ultra-light aircraft in the deserts of California and Arizona. In the San Diego area, there has been a spike in teenagers strapping drugs to their bodies to walk across the border from Tijuana.

Some suddenly popular techniques are limited to particular pockets of the border. ICE has not spotted significant spikes in newspaper ads outside of San Diego.

Ads that authorities connect to drug smugglers appear innocuous. They offer work in the United States _ an invitation that only people who can cross the border legally need apply _ with a phone number and sometimes a location to apply in person.

New hires are told to drive company cars across the border, typically to a fast-food restaurant or shopping center in San Diego, according to ICE. When they arrive, they are often told there will be no work after all that day and must leave the car and walk back to Mexico after being paid a small amount.

The drivers are typically paid $50 to $200 a trip _ much less than the $1,500 to $5,000 that seasoned smugglers are typically paid for such trips, Hayes said.

For drug traffickers, the tactic lowers expenses and, they hope, makes drivers appear less nervous when questioned by border inspectors, said Millie Jones, an assistant special agent in charge of investigations for ICE in San Diego.

The drugs are stashed in the usual ways. Fifteen pounds of methamphetamine were found in a pickup truck's phony exhaust pipe in November. More than 250 pounds of marijuana were discovered in a van's overhead compartment last April.

More than 200 pounds of marijuana were found in vacuum-sealed plastic bags smothered in grease. Drugs are typically mixed with mustard, ketchup and fabric fresheners to defuse odors and ward off dogs used by authorities.

For years, U.S. authorities have bought newspaper space and broadcast airtime south of the border to deter illegal border crossings. The Border Patrol has a long-running media campaign in Mexico and Central America that includes musical "corridos," short documentaries and public service announcements.

The ICE ads that began appearing Sunday in classified sections of Tijuana's Frontera and El Mexicano are nothing fancy. Bold black letters say, "Warning! Drug traffickers are announcing jobs for drivers to go to the United States. Don't fall victim to this trap."

Mexican newspapers have faced online competitors but the papers' classified sections are relatively robust compared to U.S. publications.

Victor Clark, director of Tijuana's Binational Center for Human Rights, doubts the ads will work without specific instructions on how to confirm whether a company is legitimate, such as calling an ICE telephone number.

"It's very difficult for someone who is unemployed to know whether it's a trap," Clark said. "I don't think many people are inclined to investigate if they are desperate for work."

The cases can be challenging for prosecutors because drivers may not know they are smuggling drugs.

Debra Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, declined to say how many cases have been prosecuted or cite any examples. Rachel Cano, assistant chief of the San Diego County district attorney's southern branch, said each case is different.

"Just like any other case, a theft case, we look at all of the facts and if there are sufficient facts that meet the elements of a crime and we can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, then we file charges," Cano said.

Guadalupe Valencia, a San Diego defense attorney, said the ads by U.S. authorities might inadvertently help defendants. Attorneys will argue it is an acknowledgement that people are often tricked.

"It has always been my opinion that there are many unknowing couriers," he said. "The challenge for the prosecution is you always have to prove knowledge."


 

Mark your calendar for Saturday, May 12

OFIR members and concerned citizens, you're invited to bring a friend and join us Saturday, May 12 at 2:00 pm for a behind the scenes look at the Arizona - Mexico border.  OFIR President, Cynthia Kendoll traveled with the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and a small group of concerned citizens from around the country on a week long, intensive study of the situation on our southern border in restricted areas not safely accessible to citizens.  Cynthia will be presenting a photographic tour of what she witnessed on the trip.  Move past the propaganda and see what is really happening.  During the trip, specialists in several governmental departments shared how they are impacted every day by illegal immigration.  Mark your calendar and plan to attend.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 2 pm

In Salem, at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn,

3125 Ryan Dr SE, just west of I-5 Exit 253, across from Costco.

 

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