Friday, September 23, 2011



Transfer of aircraft to Mexico criticized
September 22, 2011 2:49 PM
Valley Morning Star

BROWNSVILLE — The transfer this month of three Black Hawk helicopters
from the United States to Mexico to assist in the fight against drug
trafficking came amid both criticism and defense of the Mérida

The Mérida Initiative is a three-year effort established in 2007 for
$1.4 billion in U.S. assistance to Mexico and Central America to
fight criminal organizations and disrupt drug and weapons
trafficking, illicit financial activities, currency smuggling and
human trafficking, a 2009 report to Congress states.

While U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Austin, introduced legislation
in July to stop what he described as waste and mismanagement in the
program, a U.S. Department of State spokesman this month said the
initiative is already having a positive impact.

For Mexico, the assistance, including the three helicopters,
"undoubtedly strengthens our capability to mobilize in the fight
against organized crime," Adm. Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza,
secretary of the navy, said at a reception in Mexico City following
transfer of the three aircraft.

The U.S. ambassador in Mexico, Earl Anthony Wayne, attended the
ceremony accompanied by U.S. Department of Defense officials.

Saynez Mendoza said the transfer demonstrates the good will that the
governments of the United States and Mexico share in the fight
against transnational organized crime.

Mark C. Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said at
a recent press briefing that the Mérida Initiative has strengthened
law enforcement capabilities in Mexico.

"It has brought better coordination and cooperation, both
intelligence-sharing and also capabilities-building mechanisms
between law enforcement in the U.S. and law enforcement in Mexico,"
Toner said. "We recognize that this is a shared challenge, and we're
confident that the Mexican government is taking some tough steps to
go after the problem," he said.

McCaul, on the other hand, said in a press statement this summer that
he is concerned that the manner in which the effort has been managed
for the most part does not "provide demonstrably effective training
with real metrics and oversight."

The three helicopters bring to 14 the number of helicopters
transferred to Mexican security forces.

Note: interesting letter to editor.

Border lines are too much
Did I miss something or has there been a subtle change in policy at
the border? Are we more worried about people trying to get out of the
U.S. rather that in?

I walked across the line at the Dennis DeConcini port on the morning
of Sept. 13. There were six agents screening the slow trickle of
southbound pedestrians while the southbound vehicle lanes were
equally crowded with agents. When I returned from my trip to the
dentist the line waiting to get into the U.S. was long. Several
blocks long, it seemed to all of us. I ended up standing in line for
55 minutes, and when I finally got inside the building guess how many
agents were checking documents.
We now have something like seventy-eleven zillion agents in the
Tucson Sector, do we not? Don't you think more than two could be
assigned to pedestrians entering the U.S.? Plus, of course, the
necessary supervisors, dog handlers, gatekeepers and others standing
around in the building where it's cooler.
If I were a merchant in Nogales, Ariz., I'd be fomenting some sort of

Note: No weapons?
Agents seize marijuana, arrest 14 drug smuggling suspects
September 22, 2011 5:08 AM

U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Yuma Sector seized approximately
647 pounds of marijuana and arrested 14 suspects of drug smuggling
Tuesday morning.

According to agent Robert Lowry, of the Yuma Sector Communications
Division, agents assigned to the Wellton station were patrolling near
mile marker 98 on Interstate 8 when they spotted two groups of
individuals walking through the desert in close proximity to one
another carrying backpacks.

"That area is the seam between the Ajo station and the Wellton
station and is an area frequently used by drug smugglers," Lowry
said. "Agents actively patrol that area."

Lowry said agents initially found the two groups' footprints and
began tracking them northward toward the interstate, eventually
catching up with the first group of six alleged smugglers. All six
admitted to being in the country illegally and were carrying
backpacks of marijuana.

Agents then began tracking the second group and quickly apprehended
eight more alleged drug smugglers, who also admitted to being in the
country illegally and carrying marijuana.

Lowry said in total, agents apprehended 14 Mexican nationals, seizing
15 makeshift backpacks of marijuana. The marijuana, which had a
combined value of about $323,850, and all suspects were turned over
to Drug Enforcement Administration.

James Gilbert can be reached at or 539-6854.

Noteworthy because of the sentence, compared with those convicted of
running guns to Mexico. Whatever happened to those 10 year sentences
the ATF keeps advertising? The suspects can't all be rolling over.

Yuman sentenced for flying millions in drugs
September 19, 2011 4:19 PM

A Yuma man has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison
for flying a private airplane loaded with millions of dollars in
drugs from Yuma to New Jersey.

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs
Enforcement said it was the largest general aviation heroin seizure
the agency has made within the U.S.

Lorenzo Alvarez, 43, had pleaded guilty to knowingly and
intentionally distributing and possessing with intent to distribute
heroin and cocaine. U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise
imposed the 235-month sentence Monday in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in
court, on Nov. 21, 2008, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
received information that a private plane would be arriving at Essex
County Airport from Yuma loaded with narcotics.

After the plane landed, HSI special agents saw Alvarez putting three
suitcases and two smaller bags into a rental car he had driven back
to the plane. He then drove the car off the airport grounds.

Working with HSI special agents, an officer of the Fairfield Police
Department conducted a traffic stop on the rental car. Alvarez
provided written consent to search the vehicle. While in the back
seat of a patrol car, he tried to hide a key to the suitcases.

The suitcases contained about 24 kilograms of heroin and 48 kilograms
of cocaine worth millions of dollars. Law enforcement also recovered
a narcotics ledger with Alvarez's handwriting from within the airplane.

In addition to the 235-month prison term, Debevoise sentenced Alvarez
to five years of supervised release.

James Gilbert can be reached at or 539-6854.

No comments:

Post a Comment