Note: The story in WT from the 19th of April. The misperception
continues that the zetas and others gangs kidnap or force Central
Americans and others to be gunmen. Drug mules and other forced labor
yes, gunmen no.
Note: Story or press release? Or serious mismanagement of resources?
Drop in illegal crossings leaves border agents bored
Richard Marosi Los Angeles Times | Posted: Sunday, April 24, 2011
12:00 am | Comments
SAN LUIS, Ariz. - The border fence ran right in front of Jeff
Byerly's post, a straight line of steel that stretched beyond town
and deep into the desert.
As a U.S. Border Patrol agent on America's front line, Byerly's job
was to stop anyone from scaling the barrier. Hours into his midnight
shift, his stare was still fixed, but all was quiet.
He pounded energy drinks. He walked around his government vehicle. On
the other side of the fence, the bars in the Mexican town of San Luis
Rio Colorado closed, and only the sound of a passing car broke the
silence. Byerly, 31, switched on his DVD player. Minutes later, a
supervisor knocked on the window: The slapstick comedy "Johnny
English" was on; Byerly was fast asleep.
Wild foot chases and dust-swirling car pursuits may be the adrenaline-
pumping stuff of recruitment efforts, but agents on the U.S.-Mexico
border these days have to deal with a more mundane occupational
reality: the boredom of guarding a frontier where illegal crossings
have dipped to record low levels.
Porous corridors along the 2,000-mile border do remain, mostly in the
Tucson area, requiring constant vigilance. But beefed-up enforcement
and the job-killing effects of the Great Recession have combined to
reduce the flood of immigrants in many former hot spots to a trickle.
Apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexican border overall dropped from 2000
to 2010, from 1.6 million to 448,000, and almost every region has
lonely posts where agents sit for hours staring at the barrier,
"watching the fence rust" as some put it.
"When the traffic stops ... of course it's going to be difficult for
the agents to stay interested," said Supervisory Agent Ken Quillin,
from the agency's Yuma sector. "I understand guys have a tough time
staying awake. ... They didn't join the border patrol to sit on an
X," Quillin added, using the slang term for line watch duty.
To stay alert, agents are encouraged to walk around or take coffee
breaks. Some agents play video games on their mobile phones or read
books. There are agents known as "felony sleepers" who intend to
slumber - bringing pillows or parking in remote areas - but most
dozers are victims of monotony who nod off despite their best efforts
to stay awake.
In the agency's San Diego sector, where apprehensions are at their
lowest since the early 1970s, a supervisor last year was caught
dozing in his parked vehicle by a television news crew. In the
agency's busiest region near Tucson, agents have been left glassy-
eyed amid a steep drop in activity. "When you go from 700,000 arrests
in a sector to 100,000 ... of course boredom is going to settle in,"
said Brandon Judd, president of the local Border Patrol agents union,
using approximate apprehension figures.
Perhaps no area has more action-starved agents than the Yuma sector,
a vast expanse of desert and agricultural fields straddling
California and Arizona that shares a 126-mile border with Mexico. In
2005, it was the border's most trampled region, a place where
immigrant rushes, called banzai runs, sent hundreds of people into
backyards and lettuce fields, and teams of drug smugglers shot across
the Colorado River atop sandbag bridges.
Outnumbered agents resorted to spinning doughnuts in their vehicles,
trying to kick up mini-sandstorms to disorient the hordes. Agents had
to prioritize pursuits, focusing on the groups closing in on front
lawns. "We were overrun," said agent Jeff Bourne, 34, but "your brain
was always working. We were always doing something."
Then double and triple fencing went up. Stadium lighting was
installed. Every arrested immigrant, instead of being returned to
Mexico, was jailed. Outside town, workers laid steel barriers on
previously wide open borders to block drug-smuggling vehicles from
From 2005 to 2010, apprehensions of immigrants dropped 95 percent,
from 138,460 to 7,116. Vehicle drive-throughs fell from 2,700 to 21
during the same period.
-Farmers are now able to plant crops in once-trampled fields. And
residents don't find immigrants hiding under their cars or in their
living rooms anymore.
More than 900 agents, triple the number from 2005, are now stationed
in what is one of the slowest sectors along the entire border. On a
recent day, Bourne and his partner, Fernando Salazar, rode their
patrol bikes through Friendship Park, where immigrants ran through
Little League baseball games until the border fence was extended
through left field.
They rode through tidy subdivisions where some homeowners provided
shelter for people in garages and backyard bunkers until stadium
lighting and triple-layer fencing all but sealed a smugglers' enclave
in San Luis Rio Colorado.
Years ago in the same area, Bourne said he helped catch 180 people in
one day. Half-way into his recent shift, his crime-stopping efforts
consisted of stopping a young man from dropping a soda can in the park.
Note: for being an alleged "river of iron/ammo, very little
Southbound border stops pay off
Marisa Gerber Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Sunday, April 24, 2011
12:00 am | Comments
Border officers on the lookout for dirty money and guns going into
Mexico from Arizona are also making it more difficult for fugitives
to slip out of the country.
The number of people busted on arrest warrants has increased only
slightly since early 2009 when the Obama administration intensified
outbound inspections at the border ports, but officials and experts
say the around-the-clock presence of U.S. Customs and Border
Protection officers in southbound lanes has made criminals think
twice about escaping south.
"Before if you were trying to get away from authorities and go to
Mexico, nobody was going to mess with you," Nogales Port Director
Guadalupe Ramirez said. "Once you got to the border you were
basically home free."
Knowing that there are always officers working outbound inspections
is an obvious deterrent for people trying to flee, said Charles Pope,
assistant director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of
He called the apprehension of people with arrest warrants "a positive
unintended consequence" of efforts to seize cash and guns.
As Customs and Border Protection spokesman Juan Osorio put it, "This
operation is in a whole new ballgame."
Saul Ojeda-Beltran found that out on a Sunday morning last April.
At about 3:30 a.m. that day at one of Nogales' ports of entry,
officers stopped and questioned 29-year-old Ojeda-Beltran. Something
struck a strange chord with the officers, so they ran his name
through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and
found he had murder and kidnapping warrants out of Maricopa County.
He is just one of many, officials say.
Nogales officers pick up people on state or federal arrest warrants
at least four times a week, Ramirez said. They vary from charges of
military desertion and assault to murder and child molestation, he
said. "You name it, we've caught them."
On a Tuesday last month, four officers manned the outbound vehicular
lanes at the DeConcini port. Although everybody slowed down so
officers could glimpse inside, a majority of the drivers were not
Eventually an officer flagged down the driver of a teal Ford van with
rusted doors. One officer questioned the driver, and another looked
under the van with a mirror-contraption. They didn't find anything,
but Osorio said they were checking for compartments stashed with
The officers waved another slew of vehicles through, until a white
Jeep with shiny rims inched toward the front of the line. The young
male driver stopped the Jeep, answered some questions and then rifled
through the glove compartment. He pulled out the vehicle's
registration and showed it to the officer, who compared it with the
man's ID. The officer smiled and the man drove into Mexico. Osorio
said officers were probably checking to see if the vehicle was stolen.
It is in the process of looking for other things - namely money and
weapons - that officers find people wanted on warrants, Osorio said.
"They'll ask, 'Well, where's your ID? How do I know who you are?' "
The total number of people detained on warrants at Arizona's ports of
entry went up by a handful from 437 in fiscal 2009 to 448 in fiscal
2010, agency figures show.
While the data doesn't differentiate between people arrested leaving
or entering the country, Ramirez says he thinks outbound arrests have
increased significantly since the plan took affect.
Through the first half of fiscal 2011, 178 people were detained on
warrants at Arizona ports.
These figures account for people apprehended with warrants in the
National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, not necessarily
those apprehended on local warrants, officials point out. Since 2005,
CBP has detained 2,765 people on warrants at Arizona ports.
The White House increased outbound inspections in early 2009 hoping
to curb the flow of illegal cash and guns from the U.S., and
accordingly cripple Mexico's drug cartels. Although they became more
constant in 2009, there were occasional southbound inspections at the
While CBP officials cite the increased apprehensions and cash and gun
seizures as signs of success, not everyone views outbound inspections
in a purely positive light.
Pope, of the Trans-Border Institute, lauded CBP's apprehensions, but
said the inspections have also caused some negative consequences. At
the San Diego border, at least, they cause traffic bottlenecks that
hinder cross-border economic activity, he said.
"Certainly, it's a positive thing if fugitives are apprehended, but
you have to weigh if it's worth the negative."
Others are starker critics of the inspections.
It's "absurd" that people returning to Mexico can be detained for
immigration violations, said Jennifer Allen, executive director of
Tucson-based Border Action Network. Illegal immigrants "already about
to leave" and return to their home countries should be able to go
freely, she said.
Ramirez said officers at Nogales' ports catch at least one
immigration law violator every day. While Ramirez acknowledged that
the main goal of southbound inspections is to thwart money and weapon
trafficking, he said the agency can't ignore illegal immigrants.
"It doesn't stop there. It also trickles down to any violation."
"Before if you were trying to get away from authorities and go to
Mexico, nobody was going to mess with you. Once you got to the border
you were basically home free."
Nogales port director
Contact reporter Marisa Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4142.
El Chapo enter the competition for the Asian drug market
Find possible link between three suspected drug traffickers arrested
in Malaysia and the Sinaloa cartel
Sunday, April 24, 2011 | 11:46:01 AM
Culiacan, Sinaloa .- From six years, the Gonzalez brothers learned to
make bricks, watching his father worked from dawn to dusk.
Three years ago, three, thirties or forties now, leaving this
grueling work saying that they had made a better job opportunity abroad.
Now, Jose Regino, Luis Alfonso and Simón González are being tried in
Malaysia to work in a laboratory in which police found
methamphetamine worth $ 15 million. If found guilty, they hanged
The case raises the specter of a connection between the state where
they originated, Sinaloa, the cradle of Mexican drug trade and a
foreign country is a regional center for methamphetamine production.
While officials say there is no concrete evidence linking the Sinaloa
cartel's most powerful trafficking organization in Mexico, with the
production of methamphetamine in Asia, no one would be surprised if
this bond exist.
"If you look at trends, you will see that these organizations are
spreading," said a law enforcement agent assigned to Mexico Americans
who requested anonymity for security reasons. "They appear everywhere."
The brothers reported his arrest in what his family thought was a
call to congratulate a relative who had a birthday.
The family could not contain his amazement and had to look on a map
where it was Malaysia. Ensures that the brothers are innocent.
"If I had said it would not have gone," said a brother, Ismael,
pushing a wheelbarrow full of bricks, his feet buried in the mud. "I
had no idea what they were getting into."
Malaysia has become a regional hub for methamphetamine production,
according to a U.S. State Department 2011. Most laboratories are
funded by drug traffickers in Singapore, China, Taiwan, Thailand and
Mexican cartels are associated with long Asian gangs who supply the
chemical precursors of methamphetamine, but no one knew who were
involved in the production in that part of the world. U.S. officials,
however, suspect that the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquin "El Chapo
Guzman, might be trying to break into the Asian market.
While the Gonzalez brothers have criminal records, U.S. authorities
say it is not uncommon for cartels to recruit people without
experience of such operations.
"Often, people willing to take risks is such desperate people," said
American agent. "It does not take a genius to manufacture
methamphetamine. When did they say how, is like following a recipe."
Malaysian police said the brothers were arrested in March 2008 in a
laboratory in a remote area. It seized 29 kilos (63 pounds) of
methamphetamine, worth 15 million dollars.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico said that three Mexicans
were arrested in Malaysia in the same time, accused of drug-related
activities, and were released in 2010. The unit refused to give
An attorney for the Gonzalez brothers, Kitson Foong, said they were
arrested outside the factory and not involved with what was happening
inside. Did not say what the brothers in Malaysia.
"Not guilty. They are not drug traffickers," he said.
The Malaysian tax Umar Saifuddin Jaafar, however, said the brothers
were arrested in the laboratory. He said he did not know were from a
state where drugs abound, but "knew the procedures, equipment."
"They knew what they were doing. Operate in a very secretive. They
seem to be experts," said Jaafar.
Relatives and neighbors say they did not see any indication that the
brothers were or aspired to be part of the glitzy world of the
Sinaloa cartel kingpins who live in mansions with Jaguar vehicles
parked outside their homes and bury their dead in mausoleums striking
with spiral staircases and balconies.
His father, Hector Gonzalez, started making bricks in the courtyard
of his house in the 1960's and taught him all his children. Most
still working there under the hot sun, bent over a mold that produces
four bricks at a time. Made over a thousand bricks a day each, which
cooked in ovens.
On a good day, the brothers earned the equivalent of about $ 25.
Simon dislocated three discs of the spine and a few years ago a
doctor told him he should not keep doing that job.
"But he kept working," said a sister, Alexandria. "That's all you can
do here, the only thing my father taught since they were little."
He said that two men who played football and basketball they spoke of
an opportunity to work out and went with them.
"We were not told where they were going. Only they would try their
luck in another job," he said.
When called in March 2008, the family raised money, taking loans, and
sent to Alexandria as a friend to Malaysia. She saw her brothers for
the first time in court, chained together with other defendants
accused of various crimes. They were surprised to see her and said
they had not gone there to make drugs.
Foong argues that the police mishandled the case from the start. He
says he lost two thirds of the drugs seized at some point and
prepared a report saying it had been stolen. The four policemen were
arrested after being filmed stealing from the drug police headquarters.
The prosecutor Jaafar said that the four agents were investigated in
late 2008 on suspicion that they had stolen about five kilos of
drugs, but insisted that it does not affect the charges against
González siblings because the drug had been examined by chemical
Police, who had prepared a report.
Foong said the brothers were overwhelmed by the proceedings in the
Malaysian language and the Mexican Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was going
to provide translators during the trial. The Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said consular officials have visited several times to the
If convicted, the brothers will find two instances of appeal, so the
process could take about a year.
In Simon's old room there are three photographs of her daughter
Bianca. The girl is now six years old and started going to primary
school, but his mother, Brenda, said that the little girl has
nightmares and does not want to learn to read or write.
"He says he does not consider until his father again," he said. "I
tell him that he must learn early to write."
El Chapo entra a la disputa por el mercado de drogas asiático
Hallan posible vinculo entre tres presuntos narcotraficantes
detenidos en Malasia y el cártel de Sinaloa
Domingo, 24 de Abril de 2011 | 11:46:01 AM
Culiacán, Sinaloa.- Desde los seis años, los hermanos González
aprendieron a hacer ladrillos, observando cómo su padre trabajaba
desde el amanecer hasta el anochecer.
Hace tres años, los tres, ahora treintones o cuarentones, dejaron ese
trabajo agotador diciendo que se les había presentado una oportunidad
laboral mucho mejor en el exterior.
Ahora, José Regino, Luis Alfonso y Simón González están siendo
juzgados en Malasia por trabajar en un laboratorio en el que la
policía halló metanfetaminas por valor de 15 millones de dólares. De
ser hallados culpables, se les condenaría automáticamente a morir
El caso hace que surja el fantasma de una conexión entre el estado de
donde son oriundos, Sinaloa, cuna del narcotráfico mexicano, y un
país lejano que es un centro regional de producción de
metanfetaminas. Si bien las autoridades dicen que no hay pruebas
concretas que vinculen al cártel de Sinaloa -la organización de
traficantes más poderosa de México- con la producción de
metanfetaminas en Asia, nadie se sorprendería si ese lazo existiese.
"Si uno observa las tendencias, verá que estas organizaciones se
están dispersando", comentó un agente de los servicios policiales
estadunidenses asignado a México que pidió no ser identificado por
razones de seguridad. "Aparecen por todos lados".
Los hermanos informaron de su arresto en lo que sus familiares
pensaron era una llamada para felicitar a un pariente que cumplía años.
La familia no cabía en su asombro y debió buscar en un mapa dónde se
encontraba Malasia. Asegura que los hermanos son inocentes.
"Si me hubiesen dicho que fuese, no habría ido", declaró un hermano,
Ismael, mientras empujaba una carretilla llena de ladrillos, con los
pies enterrados en el barro. "Creo que no tenían idea de en lo que se
Malasia se ha convertido en un centro regional de producción de
metanfetaminas, según un informe del Departamento de Estado
estadunidense del 2011. La mayoría de los laboratorios son
financiados por traficantes de Singapur, China, Taiwán, Tailandia e
Los cárteles mexicanos están relacionados desde hace tiempo con
pandillas asiáticas que les suministran los químicos precursores de
las metanfetaminas, pero no se sabía que estuviesen involucrados en
la producción en esa parte del mundo. Las autoridades estadunidenses,
no obstante, sospechan que el cártel de Sinaloa, que lidera Joaquín
El Chapo Guzmán, podría estar tratando de meterse en el mercado
Si bien los hermanos González no tienen antecedentes delictivos, las
autoridades estadunidenses dicen que no es inusual que los cárteles
recluten gente sin experiencia para operaciones de este tipo.
"Con frecuencia, la gente dispuesta a correr este tipo de riesgos es
gente desesperada", manifestó el agente estadunidense. "No hay que
ser un genio para fabricar metanfetaminas. Cuando te han dicho cómo
se hace, es como seguir una receta de cocina".
La policía malasia dice que los hermanos fueron arrestados en marzo
del 2008 en un laboratorio ubicado en una zona remota. Se confiscaron
29 kilos (63 libras) de metanfetaminas, con un valor de 15 millones
La Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de México dijo que otros tres
mexicanos fueron arrestados en Malasia en la misma época, acusados de
actividades relacionadas con las drogas, y fueron excarcelados en el
2010. La dependencia se negó a ofrecer más detalles.
Un abogado de los hermanos González, Kitson Foong, dijo que fueron
arrestados en las afueras de la fábrica y que no estuvieron
involucrados con lo que sucedía adentro. No dijo qué hacían los
hermanos en Malasia.
"No son culpables. No son traficantes de drogas", aseguró.
El fiscal malasio Umar Saifuddin Jaafar, sin embargo, dice que los
hermanos fueron arrestados adentro del laboratorio. Indicó que no
sabía que eran oriundos de un estado donde abunda el narcotráfico,
pero que "conocían los procedimientos, el equipo".
"Sabían lo que hacían. Operaban en un medio muy hermético. Parecen
ser expertos", afirmó Jaafar.
Parientes y vecinos dicen que no percibieron indicio alguno de que
los hermanos fuesen o aspirasen a ser parte del ostentoso mundo de
los capos del cártel de Sinaloa, quienes viven en mansiones con
vehículos Jaguar estacionados frente a sus casas y entierran a sus
muertos en llamativos mausoleos, con escaleras en espiral y balcones.
Su padre, Héctor González, comenzó a fabricar ladrillos en el patio
de su casa en la década de 1960 y le enseñó el oficio a todos sus
hijos. La mayoría sigue trabajando allí bajo un sol abrasador,
inclinados sobre un molde que produce cuatro ladrillos a la vez.
Fabrican más de mil ladrillos diarios cada uno, los cuales cocinan en
En un buen día, los hermanos ganaban el equivalente a unos 25
dólares. Simón se dislocó tres discos de la columna vertebral hace
algunos años y un médico le dijo que no debía seguir haciendo ese
"Pero siguió trabajando", expresó una hermana, Alejandrina. "Es lo
único que se puede hacer aquí, lo único que mi padre les enseñó desde
que eran pequeños".
Relató que dos hombres con los que jugaban al futbol y al basquetbol
les hablaron de una oportunidad de trabajar afuera y se fueron con
"No nos dijeron adónde iban. Sólo que iban a probar suerte en otro
Cuando llamaron en marzo del 2008, la familia recaudó dinero, sacando
préstamos, y envió a Alejandrina y a una amiga a Malasia. La mujer
vio a sus hermanos por primera vez en los tribunales, encadenados,
junto con otros reos acusados de distintos delitos. Se sorprendieron
de verla y le aseguraron que no habían ido allí a fabricar drogas.
Foong sostiene que la policía manejó mal el caso desde el arranque.
Dice que perdieron dos tercios de la droga confiscada y que en algún
momento prepararon un informe diciendo que había sido robada. Que los
cuatro policías fueron detenidos tras ser filmados robándose parte de
la droga en una sede policial.
El fiscal Jaafar afirma que los cuatro agentes fueron investigados a
fines del 2008 bajo sospecha de que se habían robado unos cinco kilos
de la droga, pero insistió en que eso no afecta los cargos contra los
hermanos González porque la droga había sido examinada por químicos
de la policía, quienes habían preparado un informe.
Foong dijo que los hermanos estaban abrumados por los procedimientos
en idioma malasio y que la embajada mexicana en Kuala Lumpur les iba
a suministrar traductores durante el juicio. La Secretaría de
Relaciones Exteriores aseguró que funcionarios consulares han
visitado varias veces a los hermanos.
De ser hallados culpables, los hermanos tendrán a su disposición dos
instancias de apelación, por lo que el proceso podría demorarse
alrededor de un año.
En la vieja habitación de Simón hay tres fotografías de su hija
Bianca. La niña tiene hoy seis años y empezó a ir a la escuela
primaria, pero su madre, Brenda, dice que la pequeña tiene pesadillas
y no quiere aprender a leer ni escribir.
"Dice que no estudiará hasta que vuelva su padre", declaró. "Le digo
que debe aprender pronto para poder escribirle".