Friday, December 7, 2012



Two Mexican Nationals Charged In Death Of Coast Guard Officer
By: Mickey McCarter
12/04/2012 ( 8:00am)

Two Mexican nationals were arraigned in federal court in Los Angeles
Monday on charges of killing a US Coast Guard (USCG) chief petty
officer, who was part of a crew attempting to interdict a suspected
drug shipment.

Prosecutors charged Jose Meija-Leyva and Manuel Beltran-Higuera with
killing USCG Boatswain Mate Chief (BMC) Terrell Horne, who was thrown
from an inflatable boat and died in the counter-drug operation, US
Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Monday lamented the loss
of Horne, 34, as a "tragedy."

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of US Coast Guard
Boatswains Mate Chief Terrell Horne during a counter-drug operation
yesterday morning near Santa Cruz Island, California," Napolitano
said in a statement. "BMC Horne and his fellow crewmembers of the
USCG Cutter Halibut were engaged in an at-sea interdiction when they
came under threat by a small vessel that rammed their small boat.

"This tragedy reminds us of the dangers our men and women in uniform
face every day, and the great risks they willingly take, as they
protect our nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of
BMC Horne and all of our Coast Guard personnel at this difficult
time," she added.

In an e-mail message Sunday, USCG Commandant Adm. Robert Papp
announced the loss of Horne to other servicemembers of the Coast Guard.

Papp explained that the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Halibut, an 87-foot
patrol boat based in Marina del Rey, Calif., was investigating a
panga boat, which was suspected of breaking the law after its
detection by a Coast Guard C-130 airplane. The panga was traveling
without lights, so the Halibut was dispatched to check it out.

"When the CGC Halibut small boat approached, the suspect panga-type
vessel maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly towards the small
boat and struck it before fleeing the scene," Papp wrote. "Two Coast
Guardsmen were thrown from the boat into the water, and both members
were immediately recovered by the small boat. Upon recovery it was
apparent that BMC Horne sustained a traumatic head injury. The other
crewmember had minor injuries."

Although Horne was returned to the Halibut where he received first
aid, little could be done. Medical personnel pronounced him dead when
the Halibut returned to port.

The Coast Guard caught the fleeing panga, described as a single-
engine wooden boat roughly 25 feet long, and captured suspects Meija-
Leyva and Beltran-Higuera, Papp reported.

"I commend the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection units
who continued the pursuit and apprehended those believed to be
responsible. We are actively investigating the incident," Papp stated.

"BMC Horne stood the watch on the front lines of Coast Guard
operations throughout his nearly 14 years of active duty," the
admiral said, adding, "Throughout his Coast Guard service, BMC
Horne's professionalism and commitment, like those before him,
ensured that we were always ready to answer the nation's call."

Meija-Leyva and Beltran-Higuera are being held without bond. They are
scheduled to appear in court next on Dec. 17.

14 More Predators At CBP? Not So Fast, Source Says
By: Mickey McCarter
12/04/2012 ( 8:00am)

A highly placed source told Homeland Security Today on background
that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has no plans to move
forward with the purchase of 14 additional Predator unmanned aerial
systems (UAS) to augment its current force of ten of the drones.

On Nov. 1, notice of a sole-source contract award to General Atomics
Aeronautical Systems Inc., San Diego, Calif., for operations and
maintenance of the CBP Predator fleet contained a justification that
CBP could purchase an additional 14 Predators at a cost of $443
million, bringing the total CBP fleet to 24 -- a stated goal of the
CBP Office of Air and Marine.

But a source with knowledge of CBP acquisition plans said the agency
was unlikely to buy any Predators in the next five years, countering
claims from other sources.

CBP is "going to have these 10 UASes and we are not going to see any
more," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due
to the sensitive nature of homeland security acquisition planning.

The justification in the sole-source contract to General Atomics
cited the possibility of 14 additional Predators so as to lay the
ground work for operations and maintenance support in the event that
CBP makes a decision to procure any more in the future, perhaps five
years or so from now, the source described.

"In some of the language, you will see pieces of it that talks about
support for as many as X number of aircraft but really that does not
signal or constitute a plan to purchase more," the source commented,
characterizing references to additional Predators as a "wish list"
item intended to strengthen justification for the operations and
maintenance contract.

Congress has provided no funding to CBP for UASes in fiscal year 2013
and out-year budget planning in the following four years does not
include money for any Predators for the agency in that timeframe
either, according to budget documents.

David Olive, a consultant at Catalyst Partners, slammed any purchase
of additional Predators in a Nov. 19 blog post, calling it wasteful.

"The amount seems staggering in a time of shrinking budgets and
austerity calls from all political parties," Olive said of any
theoretical spending.

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