Details emerge in BP agent drug case
April 06, 2011 10:32 PM
BY SARAH WOMER - SUN STAFF WRITER
Details are emerging in the case of Michael Atondo, the Yuma Sector
Border Patrol agent arrested this week with marijuana in his patrol
According to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District
Court, two agents responding to an activated sensor found Atondo at
the border fence. Alerted by his unusual actions, the agents
eventually asked to search Atondo's vehicle, where they discovered
bundles of marijuana.
Atondo is facing a federal charge of possession with intent to
distribute a controlled substance. He made his initial appearance at
the U.S. federal courthouse in Yuma on Wednesday.
Atondo was arrested Monday by Drug Enforcement Agency agents after
745.6 pounds of marijuana were discovered in his marked Border Patrol
truck. According to the criminal complaint, the arrest happened along
the Mexico-U.S. border, about 30-40 miles east of the U.S. Port of
Entry at San Luis, Ariz.
As the two Border Patrol agents approached the area, they found a
Border Patrol vehicle backed up against the eastern edge of the fence
that marks the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The vehicle's
rear door was open.
According to the complaint, at the end of the border fence is an open
area, large enough for an individual to walk back and forth between
the two countries.
One of the agents thought it was unusual that the unit had not
responded to the activated sensor, since it was closer to the area.
As the two agents approached, they found two Jeep Cherokees parked in
Mexico, and a person running west from the two vehicles, which were
also backed up to the point where the border fence ends.
Atondo at this point emerged from the parked Border Patrol vehicle
with his service weapon drawn and pointed at the individual who was
running away. Two other people in Mexico then jumped into the
Cherokees and drove them southbound, farther into Mexico, the
Atondo told the two agents that two more people had run eastward,
toward a hill, and jumped in his vehicle to pursue them. However, the
two agents had a clear view of the area, and did not see two people.
The agents followed Atondo and asked if something was wrong, the
complaint states. They noted that Atondo seemed very nervous, and
neither agent could understand what Atondo was trying to verbally
communicate with them. However, according to the complaint, one agent
managed to understand that Atondo claimed to be searching for a
flashlight he had lost the previous day.
One of the agents asked if Atondo had called for any backup, to which
Atondo said he had been unable to initiate contact on his radio.
One of the agents noticed that Atondo's nametape was missing from
his uniform, which the agent thought was unusual as he had noticed
Atondo was wearing it that morning.
The two agents continued to follow Atondo due to his unusual actions,
and then one of the agents contacted a supervisor for assistance.
One of the agents confronted Atondo and asked for permission to
search his vehicle. At that point, the agent found orderly stacks of
marijuana in the back of Atondo's vehicle.
Atondo began to pace nervously back and forth, then retrieved his
body armor and put it on, according to the complaint.
When the supervisory agent arrived, Atondo stated he was looking for
a flashlight he had lost three days earlier, which was inconsistent
with his previous statement to the two agents, the complaint said.
The supervisory agent also noted there were inconsistencies with the
footsteps at the scene. He also noted it was strange that the
suspected smugglers or illegal aliens described by Atondo were not
frightened or startled by Atondo's presence, and did not flee until
the second Border Patrol vehicle arrived.
According to the complaint, Atondo had made repeated requests to be
assigned to the area known as "The Line," which is directly
adjacent to the international border and where the events in question
took place. Atondo had actually been assigned to work in the "Lower
Area" several miles away from "The Line."
Upon questioning later that day by DEA special agents, Atondo said he
was en route to his assigned duty post when he noticed the activation
of a sensor in a nearby area, so he left his post to investigate.
According to the complaint, Atondo said he climbed a small hill in
the area and noticed the two vehicles parked near the fence. He said
he found the bundles of marijuana stacked at the edge of the fence on
the north and south side of the fence. He checked for more people,
then returned to his vehicle and loaded the bundles into it.
Atondo then said that as he was loading the bundles, he heard an
additional USBP vehicle approaching. At that time, he also noted
unidentified individuals in the area on the Mexico side of the
international boundary. As the second USBP vehicle approached, the
unidentified individuals fled southbound and westbound.
Atondo said he alerted the two agents to the fleeing individuals,
then got in his vehicle to check for additional subjects in the area.
Then, Atondo said he turned his vehicle around, met with the two
agents, and returned to the initial area. He then told one of the
agents he found bundles of marijuana, which were in his USBP vehicle.
It was determined at Atondo's hearing Wednesday that the case will
be transferred to the U.S. District Court of Arizona in Phoenix.
Atondo is temporarily being held in federal custody until his
detention hearing in Yuma next week.
More than 100 ask for justice for LaMadrid
By Francisco Barrios
Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:06 AM MDT
More than 100 attended a protest march calling for justice for the
shooting of Douglas resident Carlos LaMadrid two weeks ago.
Francisco Barrios/Douglas Dispatch Mrs. Carlos LaMadrid, Nydia
Valenzuela shares with the people a banner from LaMadrid graduation
from PPEP School on 2010 to show her pride for her husband's
accomplishment and claimed for justice for her husband.
LaMadrid was shot three times in the back and once in the shoulder as
he attempted to climb a ladder to evade capture by law enforcement
agencies at the border fence. The shot came from the gun of a Border
The march started on 5th Street and Pan American Avenue, just blocks
from the U.S.-Mexico border. It continued up International Avenue
until they reached the site of the shooting, near Cochsie Ave.
LaMadrid's wife, Nydia Valenzuela, and LaMadrid and Guerrero
families, as well as friends and the Border Action Network
coordinators were at the protest to seek justice and to ask the
community to help them to stop the killings in the border areas.
Carmina Guerrero, LaMadrid's aunt said "We ask for justice in our
borders and we ask for the support of the community to make sure what
happened to "Carlitos" never happens again to avoid this sorrow to
the families of the victims. We want to make everyone conscious that
not because of they have a badge they can kill anyone and do whatever
According to Janeth Guerrero, a relative of LaMadrid, another reason
to do the protest was that the authorities haven't helped them that
"We haven't received any official report from the Douglas Police,
the Border Patrol, not even from the Sheriff's Department. Sheriff
Deputy Roger Clark said to us that they won't deliver any report
until the case is solved."
The march ended with candles and flowers placed where LaMadrid was shot.
Julissa Villa, Border Action Network Coordinator said that they are
supporting the family because excessive use of force and all the
killing must stop and they will fight next to the family until
justice is done. In an earlier interview, Jennifer Allen, executive
director of the Boarder Action Network, said that the death of Carlos
LaMadrid has shaken the border communities.
More details emerge on border shooting
BY DEREK JORDAN
Wick News Service
Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:06 AM MDT
More details about the events leading to the pursuit and shooting
death of a 19-year-old Douglas man have come to light after the
Douglas Police Department released a report on the incident
At about 12:10 p.m. on March 21, Douglas Police Officers were
notified that an anonymous caller had reported a gold-colored
Chevrolet Avalanche that had just been loaded with marijuana bundles
on Van Buren Avenue before leaving the area eastbound on 8th Street,
according to the report.
Officer Marcus Gonzalez came into contact with the Avalanche after
witnessing it cross 13th Street on B Avenue. Following the vehicle,
the officer saw only one occupant, the driver, later identified as
Carlos La Madrid.
Gonzalez continued to follow the vehicle and was eventually joined by
other officers as the Avalanche turned south onto Avenue D from 14th
Street, where it began to accelerate, the report states.
The officer then activated his emergency lights and sirens, after
which the Avalanche "began completely disregarding stop signs and
speeding away in an attempt to elude police."
During the pursuit, the vehicle ran a number of stop signs and drove
through the Clawson Elementary School zone at an estimated 45 m.p.h.,
according to the report.
Gonzalez slowed his speed at these points but never lost sight of the
The Avalanche eventually continued onto Cochise Avenue southbound
into the desert area until it reached the International Border Road.
Here, Gonzalez saw a marked U.S. Border Patrol Chevrolet Tahoe
approaching Cochise Avenue eastbound from the border road, and "saw
the Avalanche turn slightly west on Border Road and collide with the
Border Patrol Tahoe," the report states.
At this point, the report goes on to say that the officer saw two men
standing on top of the border fence near a ladder leading up the
fence from the U.S. side, while a third man on the ground on the
Mexican side of the fence passed rocks up to them.
La Madrid then exited the Avalanche and ran toward the ladder and
began to climb it.
Gonzalez parked his vehicle before reaching the border road and,
before getting out of the vehicle, "saw one of the male subjects
atop the fence throw three rocks/bricks at the Border Patrol agent as
he was exiting his vehicle. Two of the rocks struck the Border
Patrol Tahoe's windshield (narrowly missing the Border Patrol Agent)
and the third missing everything
altogether," the statement reads.
While this happened, the second man on top of the fence reached down
and grabbed La Madrid's wrist "as if to try to help him get up the
Gonzalez then saw the Border Patrol agent draw his sidearm and fire
three shots, followed by La Madrid and the man who had grabbed him
falling from the fence and to the ground.
The second man on top of the fence returned to the Mexican side and
fled the area in a two-door silver hatchback vehicle, while the third
person on the ground on the Mexican side left in an unknown direction.
Paramedics were called to the scene as Douglas Police and a Gang and
Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) detective
carried the wounded La Madrid behind Gonzalez's vehicle.
The second suspect, who is not identified in the report, was secured
and also placed behind the vehicle.
First aid was provided to La Madrid by a GIITEM detective and Border
Patrol agent until Douglas Fire Department paramedics arrived and
transported him to the Southeast Arizona Medical Center.
On Monday, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, the lead agency
investigating the incident, reported that a second person, Jesus
Manuel Chino Lino, 17, was also in the Avalanche at the time of the
Chino Lino has been taken into custody and is charged as an adult
with possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana
and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the sheriff's
When reached for comment Tuesday night, Carol Capas, spokeswoman for
the sheriff's office, said she could not immediately verify if the
second suspect mentioned in the Douglas Police report was Chino Lino.
She did, however, say that she was not aware of any additional
suspects that may have been apprehended.
The Douglas Police report indicates that an officer saw a "large
burlap sack with shoulder straps in the rear bed area of the
avalanche" after the vehicle was moved away from the border fence.
The sheriff's office reported that 48.2 pounds of marijuana was
found inside the vehicle.
While en route to a Tucson hospital, La Madrid's condition worsened
and he was rerouted to the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center, where
he was later pronounced dead.
Chino Lino remains booked in the Cochise County Jail.