Saturday, February 28, 2015



Note: The victim's father was on local media Friday speaking out against the obama administration and ICE about how they let criminal illegals back out on the streets. To our surprise, the story and videos seem to have disappeared overnight. Will continue searching . Pending any discovery of the disappeared videos, a look back at the crime and criminals. Also testimony of Ronnebeck's uncle.


Congressional Testimony – A Review of the Department of Homeland Security's Policies and Procedures for the Apprehension, Detention and Release of Non-Citizens Unlawfully Present in the United States
February 25, 2015 –
Delivered by Michael Ronnebeck for the Ronnebeck Family

Good morning Distinguished Committee members,
My name is Michael Ronnebeck.
I am here on behalf of the Ronnebeck Family.
I'd like to tell you about my nephew, Grant Ronnebeck.

Grant was a 21 year old son, brother, nephew, and grandson. He was a bright young man, with an infectious smile and love of life. He had a positive outlook on life, and everyone he met knew it.
As a 21 year old American, he was just starting out in life; starting out to realize his dreams, starting to follow his heart in manners of career choices, and just discovering his life choices. His desire was to work his way up at the job he loved, working for the QuikTrip Corporation as he had for the previous 5 years, or possibly later to become a member of the law enforcement community.

He loved 4-wheeling in the desert around his home near Mesa, Arizona, and spending time with friends and family watching the Broncos play during the football season. He was a pretty typical young American man, but to us he was a very special family and community member.

At 4:00 a.m. on January 22, 2015, while working the overnight shift at his Quiktrip store, Grant assisted a man buying cigarettes. The man dumped a jar of coins on the counter and demanded cigarettes. Grant tried explaining that he needed to count the coins before he could give the man the cigarettes. The man then pulled a gun, and stated "you're not gonna take my money", and "you're not gonna give me my cigarettes." Grant immediately offered up the cigarettes to the man, who shot him in the face, killing him. Seemingly unaffected, the man then stepped over Grant's body, grabbed a couple of packs of cigarettes, and then left the store.

After a 30 minute high speed chase through the streets of Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona, the man was taken into custody. Inside his car were the cigarettes, at least two handguns, and the shell casings from the 9mm handgun believed to have been used to kill Grant.

Apolinar Altamirano, the alleged murderer, is an illegal immigrant. According to a news article detailing his 2012 arrest, he is a self-proclaimed member of the Mexican mafia, and says he has ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel.

The news article states that in August of 2012, he was arrested with two others after kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and burglarizing a woman in her apartment. He took a plea deal, and pled guilty to a charge of felony burglary for that incident. He was sentenced to two years of probation and turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency due to his undocumented status in the United States. He never served any time in custody.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency released the now convicted felon Altamirano on bond pending a deportation hearing.

In the two years since then, while awaiting his deportation hearing, Altamirano has had two orders of protection filed against him, including one from a woman who claimed he threatened to kill her, and pointed a gun at her boyfriend.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was notified of the protection orders by a Mesa Superior Court judge.

Altamirano was still allowed to be free in our Country.

Your peer, Rep Matt Salmon (AZ-05) said it clearly in a Colleague letter to you.
"I believe there is simply no excuse for ICE to be releasing individuals like this back onto our streets to endanger and kill hardworking Americans."
I have to agree with Mr Salmon's assessment.
My family also agrees with Mr. Salmon.

ICE should be doing its job for the American people, with the American People's safety and security first and foremost in mind.

It is my family's greatest desire that Grant Ronnebeck's legacy will be more than a fading obituary, a cemetery plot, or a fond memory. Instead, we want Grant's death to be a force for change and reform in the immigration policies of this great nation.

In closing, I am asking you, our elected scholars, lawyers, and community leaders, to make these changes; to rise above your political differences, to set aside your personal interests, and to use your resources to make sensible immigration reform a reality in the coming months, so that tragedies like this might not ever occur again.

Biography – Michael Ronnebeck
Michael Ronnebeck is a 52 year old United States citizen who currently resides in Sacramento California. He attended Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California, and studied Administration of Justice at San Jose State University in San Jose, California
Michael has worked in the Retail Loss Prevention Profession for the past 30+ years for companies such as Neiman Marcus, and Target Corporation and has been involved in thousands of criminal apprehensions and investigations.
He is also an aspiring Photographer.
Michael is testifying today for his nephew, Grant Ronnebeck (March 28, 1993-January 22, 2015) And on behalf of his immediate family.
Michael has two sisters, Judy Ronnebeck, and Karen Morreira.
Judy is a retired member of the Law Enforcement Community who lives in Escondido California Karen is a Banking manager who lives in Flower Mound Texas
Michael has two brothers, Steven and Eric.
Steven is a retail manager and is Grant's father. He lives in Mesa, Arizona. He is also father to Grants younger brother, Tyler Ronnebeck
Eric is a blogger, and writer living in Seattle Washington.
Michael's mother is Barbara Jones, who is a loving mother and grandmother living in Escondido California.


Immigrant accused of killing store clerk was out on bond
Associated Press
12:30 PM, Jan 27, 2015
2:35 PM, Jan 27, 2015

PHOENIX - Federal authorities say an immigrant was out on bond and awaiting deportation hearings when he killed a Phoenix-area convenience store clerk over a pack of cigarettes.

RELATED: 'Dedicated, well-liked' QuikTrip clerk killed in Mesa

Apolinar Altamirano, 29, pleaded guilty in 2012 to a burglary charge but did not serve time in prison. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement took Altamirano into custody on Jan. 3, 2013, after learning of his conviction in Maricopa County in Arizona. But after reviewing his case, ICE found he was eligible for bond, a spokeswoman said in a statement issued Monday.

"After reviewing his immigration and criminal history, which showed only this conviction, ICE determined that under applicable law Mr. Altamirano was eligible for bond. Mr. Altamirano posted a $10,000 bond on January 7, 2013. Mr. Altamirano's removal case was still pending with the immigration courts at the time of his most recent arrest," the statement said.

Altamirano was free on bond when two injunctions against harassment were issued against him in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. An injunction against harassment is similar to a protection order.

In one order, a woman accused Altamirano of threatening to kill her several times and of pointing a gun at her boyfriend, The Arizona Republic reported.

The last order was issued against Altamirano on Jan. 14.

Altamirano is now facing a first-degree murder charge, among others, after the shooting death of 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck last week.

Critics say the shooting is an example of the lax immigration policies put into place by the Obama administration. Directives issued by former ICE director John Morton in 2011 provided new guidelines for deportations that focused on dangerous criminals with gang ties or who had been convicted of "serious felonies."

"This administration has taken the position that you have to use violence against an American and be convicted of it before they will take notice if you are an illegal alien," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for more immigration restrictions.

The administration late last year issued new guidelines for deportation that prioritize immigrants who pose a danger to public safety and national security. Immigrants with a felony conviction also are a top priority for deportation under the new orders, which were issued nearly two years after Altamirano was granted bond.

Immigrant advocates say the guidelines protect immigrants who lack legal status but who have no criminal records and who have ties to their communities and U.S.-born children.

Police say the suspect dumped change on the counter from a jar to pay for cigarettes while repeatedly telling Ronnebeck, "You're not gonna give me my cigarettes." Then, the assailant pulled out a gun and repeated the same statement -- even as Ronnebeck tried to hand him a pack -- before opening fire.

The victim was shot in the face.

Altamirano was arrested after a pursuit across much of the Phoenix area that ended with a crash. In arguing against bail, the prosecutor cited the fact that the suspect is in the country illegally and has a criminal record.

Police searched his car after the killing and found a 9 mm handgun, two packs of Marlboros and several casings of ammunition.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

AZMEX Cults protest fence 23-2-15

Note: As usual, no concern about damage to habitat done by drug / human smugglers
Lost link to story

Local residents, activists decry border fence's environmental impacts

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 6:42pm

MARK.LEVY@SVHERALD.COM Area residents and members of the Sierra Club gather near the San Pedro River and the border fence in Palominas Saturday.
(CLICK on photo above, to see even more photos from this story)

PALOMINAS — While the effectiveness of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border on illegal immigration and smuggling activity is a matter of debate for some, a presentation by a member of the environmental organization the Sierra Club sought to prove that the wall's adverse effects on the environment were undeniable.
Speaking to about a dozen people at the Sierra Vista Public Library on Saturday, Dan Millis, the Tucson-based coordinator of the Sierra Club's Borderlands project, explained to about two dozen attendees how the waiving of more than 30 federal environmental laws to make way for the construction of the border wall has resulted in erosion, flood damage to both countries and a stymieing of wildlife migration.


AZMEX Cults protest fence 23-2-15

Note: As usual, no concern about damage to habitat done by drug / human smugglers
Lost link to story

Local residents, activists decry border fence's environmental impacts

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 6:42pm

MARK.LEVY@SVHERALD.COM Area residents and members of the Sierra Club gather near the San Pedro River and the border fence in Palominas Saturday.
(CLICK on photo above, to see even more photos from this story)

PALOMINAS — While the effectiveness of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border on illegal immigration and smuggling activity is a matter of debate for some, a presentation by a member of the environmental organization the Sierra Club sought to prove that the wall's adverse effects on the environment were undeniable.
Speaking to about a dozen people at the Sierra Vista Public Library on Saturday, Dan Millis, the Tucson-based coordinator of the Sierra Club's Borderlands project, explained to about two dozen attendees how the waiving of more than 30 federal environmental laws to make way for the construction of the border wall has resulted in erosion, flood damage to both countries and a stymieing of wildlife migration.


Monday, February 23, 2015



Note: Interesting article from the Guardian. With a good bit of literary license, but seems to be close in several topics. Maps & photos at link.

Comment: Your correspondent spent a few days in Sinaloa shortly after, rpt., after, el chapo was caught. The consensus on the future of the cartel and the drug trade then was much as reflected in the article.

Interesting also is el chapo's lawyers working, so far successfully, to keep him from being extradited to the U.S. Have heard that one of the Mexican govt. favorite tools is to threaten extradition if the subject doesn't play nice. The intent being to control and "tax" the trade. As always, the "taxes" will never make it to the national treasury.

A key point is made about the narco "juniors".

Also the focus on heroin and meth production which has led to dramatically increased consumption in AZ and elsewhere in the U.S. Chemicals necessary for processing continue to arrive from China, by the ton.
Another key point deals with seizures of pot on the way to the U.S. Multiple tons have been picked up just south of the AZ line recently.

For local interest: Nothing has changed. Given the corruption on both sides of the border, getting in the way can be a bad thing.


Life after El Chapo: kingpin's arrest spells new era in Mexican drug war
The capture last year of Joaquín Guzmán barely seems to have affected the Sinaloa cartel's core business, but behind the scenes trouble may be brewing

Jo Tuckman in Culiacán
Friday 20 February 2015 08.20 EST
Last modified on Friday 20 February 2015 20.05 EST

The fortune-teller smiled as she gazed out towards the distant peaks of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.

"The mountains are glowing red and it will be a good harvest," she predicted. The forecast was not based on second sight, however, but on conversations with local farmers looking forward to a bumper crop of marijuana – and the cash bonanza it will bring.

This is Mexico's own golden triangle. Straddling the northern states of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua, the Sierra has been a stronghold of the country's drug trade for as long as anyone can remember. Its deep
canyons and dense pine forests have harboured narcos and hidden plantations of marijuana and opium poppies for decades.

It's a world the fortune-teller knows well: over the years, she said she had often used her gift to help local people – locating a lost kilo of opium paste or comforting the girlfriends of slain traffickers.

The arrest of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán on 22 February 2014 was hailed by the Mexican and US authorities as the one of the biggest blows to the drug trade in decades. But a year on, the core business of
Guzmán's Sinaloa cartel seems hardly affected. "As long as there are people who want the drugs this will never stop, whoever goes to prison," the seer said.

Overall, seizures of drugs from Mexico heading into the US remain much as they were before Guzmán's arrest. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported only small changes in the way the cartel operates. And after a brief burst of triumphalism in the days after Guzmán's arrest, the Mexican government now rarely mentions the Sinaloa cartel at all.

Crops and robbers: Mexico's narco areas

"Chapo's capture has not produced any major changes here," said Ismael
Bojórquez, the director of the Sinaloa investigative weekly Ríodoce.
"The cartel structure continues to work just as before."

Not that everybody in Sinaloa accepts that view.

"Things are calm, yes, but it feels like the calm before the storm," said a local music producer who specialises in narcocorridos – accordion-driven ballads often commissioned by traffickers to glorify their exploits. Like the psychic – and others interviewed for this article – he was wary of being identified, because his work often brings him into contact with members of the criminal underworld.

Sinaloa's Coordinator of Public Security, who previously headed military operations in the state, insists that Chapo's capture has not had any major impact on security over the past year. "Things not only have not got worse," retired General Moisés Melo Garcia said, "but high impact crimes have been falling in Sinaloa, thanks to improved coordination between the federal and state forces."

But over the past year, unease in Sinaloa has been magnified by the lack of clarity over the cartel's reconfiguration since Guzmán's arrest.

For all his mythical status – forged by a dramatic prison escape in 2001 and the Sinaloa cartel's subsequent attempt to take over territories across the country from other cartels – Guzmán was not so much the boss of bosses as the highest profile figure in a triumvirate of veterans.

The other two were Juan José Esparragoza, known as El Azul ("the blue one"), who reportedly died in June and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, who is still at large.

Many assumed El Chapo's arrest would prompt Zambada's seamless succession to power, but the 67-year-old narco has apparently come under intense pressure in recent months: several close collaborators, including one of his sons, have been arrested and he has reportedly come close to capture several times.

Even in the state capital Culiacán – once his undisputed home territory – El Mayo has appeared unable to respond to an incursion by a former protege of Chapo called Dámaso López, who is said to have made
inroads into street-level dealing in the city.

The record producer noted that López appeared to be backing his ambitions with an aggressive string of promotional narcocorridos with lyrics that are becoming increasingly bellicose.

A Mexican soldier runs in a marijuana field in Culiacán, Sinaloa state. Photograph: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

In Culiacán, some believe El Chapo could eventually be replaced by one of his sons, Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán, but others dismiss him as too inexperienced to take full control.

Analysts, law enforcement sources and cartel contacts agree generational change is contributing to the unease: traditionalists often point to the hotheaded and exhibitionist tendencies of such narco "juniors", whose inherited power and wealth contrast with the rags-to-riches struggles of their fathers.

And then there is the wild card of Rafael Caro Quintero. A founder of the now-defunct Guadalajara cartel, Quintero spent 28 years in jail for the 1985 murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, but was unexpectedly released in 2013 – to the disgust of the US government – and promptly disappeared. Today the ageing narco is said to be hiding out somewhere in the golden triangle, intent on reimposing old school narco order in Sinaloa.

"There is no logic to what is happening," the record producer said. "The sense I get is of an atmosphere of pending war."

Luís agrees. He spent 10 years as one of El Chapo's gunmen, loading drugs on to planes heading to the US as well as torturing and killing cartel members who stepped out of line.

Luis has retired and complains of nightmare flashbacks to his days as a killer, but he still keeps in contact with the few members of his old crowd who are still alive. They tell him all is not well in the cartel.

"Before all the cows went in one direction. Now there are too many cowboys," he said, sipping a beer and fiddling with a joint. "There will always be drugs moving, for as long as it is not legal, but I see a lot of weakness, a lot of internal disputes and mistreatment of the local population and that creates problems too."

Luis said that while the police were as accommodating as ever, new tactics being used by the federal government were causing problems.

Time was, he said, when soldiers would help cartel members load up drug shipments "for a beer and a woman". Now, however, he said army units were rotated so often that deals with corrupt commanders had to be constantly renegotiated.

Worse still, he added, the government was increasingly depending on special operations forces, which have proved stubbornly resistant to making any deals with the cartels. Naval special operations units, working closely with the DEA, have been responsible for almost all the key arrests in Sinaloa, including Chapo's.

María, a well-dressed middle-aged lady who spoke freely once assured of anonymity, also described considerable nervousness at the "peaceful end of the business". A close relative of María's trafficed cocaine independently, she said, but still depended on the cartel to keep order in the state.

People protest in support of arrested Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín Guzmán, chanting 'release him'. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

"The youngsters wanting to come in are more violent, they don't have what it takes," she said. "El Señor [El Mayo] is looking weak, but he is very astute and we are hoping that he has an ace up his sleeve."

Memories are still fresh of the all-out war that erupted in Sinaloa in 2008 following a violent split between Chapo and his one-time allies in the Beltrán Leyva family, leaving many in the area particularly attuned to signs of internal tension in the cartel. Their concerns are only reinforced by events elsewhere in Mexico: hardly a day goes by in the southern state of Guerrero without reports of atrocities committed in the turf wars between splinter groups of the once-mighty Beltrán Leyva cartel.

"The Sinaloa cartel is not a good thing, but it is better than the others," said one taxi driver in the city. "We don't want another war."

His immediate concern, however, was a lack of cash in Culiacán linked by many to El Chapo's capture.

A financial adviser at a bank in the city agreed: "The Sinaloan economy depends, in large part, on these guys. It's their cash and investments that provide the work," he said.

He added that El Chapo's arrest and tighter restrictions on cash transactions had led to a notable contraction in the past year, though he expected this to ease once the cartel had found new creative ways of laundering its money.

Agriculture and the tourism industry have long been favoured routes for laundering money, he said, but he expected new construction projects would become the preferred way to clean dirty money.

"In Sinaloa we are all betting on the good guys and the bad guys doing business," he said.

Javier Valdez, a reporter at Ríodoce, specialises in stories about the way daily life in Sinaloa has become increasingly invaded by narco economics and culture. "The narcos have domesticated us," Valdez said. "They are in our lives and we are ever more resigned to that destiny."

The government's failure to provide security or prosperity only adds to this sense of dependence on an underworld that relies on both barbaric violence and managerial agility to adapt to new market conditions.

The DEA's 2014 National Threat Assessment notes a steady rise in heroin seizures on the US south-west border that reached 2,200kg (4,850lb) in 2013 – more than four times the amount intercepted in 2008.

This appears to be a response to growing US demand, but could also reflect opium paste's portability compared with large bricks of marijuana. In Sinaloa growers in the Sierra Madre describe increased poppy production for just those reasons.

Local people with connections to the drug trade also describe a surge in the number of crystal meth labs. The DEA report notes that almost all the methamphetamine on sale in the US was produced in Mexico, with seizures on the border nearly tripling between 2009 and 2013 to reach about 11,500kg. The report also cites increasingly sophisticated techniques, which include dissolving the drug in solvents to smuggle it across the border disguised as flavoured drinks or hidden in windshield wiper reservoirs.

Meanwhile, marijuana seizures dropped suddenly in 2013. Some newspaper reports have ascribed this to the legalisation of the drug in some US states, but local producers say it has more to do with years of falling prices and greater vigilance by the army, which complicates the transport of large shipments.

All of which leads journalists such as the director of Ríodoce to conclude that the Sinaloa cartel is well on the way to completing its reformation for the post-Chapo era.

"It is a period of transition and there will always be bumps along the way," Bojórquez said. "But this is a business group with a worldwide reach and it is looking pretty strong."

Bojórquez speculates that the cartel's resilience may also also owe something to backroom negotiations with Mexican politicians, who he believes are desperate to find a way to close down the drug wars, which have killed about 100,000 people around Mexico.

At least one Sinaloan politician from the governing Institutional Revolutionary party appeared to agree. "The only way to do this is for the big boys to sit down with the big boys and make a deal," he said.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015



Note: Drugs, girls and weapons. As often mentioned here, the campaign against "sex trafficking" is a farce if the border is left open.

From the good folks at Borderland Beat and SinEmbargo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Mexican drug cartels recruit thousands of students in Texas to traffic drugs and arms
Translated for Borderland Beat from a Sinembargo article by Otis B Fly-Wheel
Por Jesús Salas, especial para SinEmbargo

The Mexican drug cartels have managed to recruit thousands of youngsters, in primary, secondary and preparatory schools in Texas, to form gangs under their control, in order to strengthen the flow of narcotic drugs to all of the United States.

This is clear from a National Gang Report from 2014, released by the Department of Public Safety for the State. In Texas there are about 100,000 Gang members and in El Paso approximately 5,600, distributed among 307 criminal organisations, according to information.

In accordance with the document "Texas Gang Threat Assessment", the Cartels of Sinaloa, Juarez, del Golfo, and Los Zetas, recruit students using the internet and prisoners to become involved in illicit activities.

The gang members, who are supporting any of the Cartels, receive orders to locate children, who accept money, fame, women and drugs in exchange for activities related to drug trafficking, human trafficking or sexual trafficking.

According to information in the report, the ease of recruitment is great, because when one of these youngsters are detained, they can easily be replaced, and will continue to bolster gang numbers inside prison, once convicted.

In the document, they identify the Barrio Azteca gang, La Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos, and the Latin Kings, that serve the Juarez Cartel, headed by Vincente Carillo Fuentes until his detention on 9th October 2014.

In the case of the Sinaloa Cartel, the report identifies Tango Blast, Latin Kings, the Mexican Mafia and Los Surenos 13. The last in the list are considered the second most dangerous organisation in El Paso. The number one spot being attributed to Barrio Azteca.

Once students are recruited, they are put to work carrying out the following activities, sale of drugs, sale of weapons, collection of money, transit of drugs, murder, extortion, kidnapping or theft of vehicles, later to be sent to Juarez and used in violent crimes.

A unique series of events positioned the Sureno 13 gang as one of the most viable criminal gangs in El Paso, Texas. A review of events leading up to this, identifies three reasons how a gang based in California, is now one of the most influential in El Paso, and the implications for Texas in the future, said the text.

Adding that this movement had been a process over years, and that already members of said organisation has had time to relocate to other locations. As well as the gangs mentioned, others exist in different states of the country, and also have relations with Mexican Cartels.

Among them are Barrio Locos 13, Vista Home Boys, United Blood Nation, Brown Pride, Border Brothers, East Side Bloods, East Side Locos, Gangster Crips, and others.

One of the most important detentions of gang members in El Paso, happened last year, where authorities of the DEA, FBI and other diverse agencies, achieved the capture of 35, the majority of which were members of Barrio Azteca, who had formed a Bi-National network of heroin traffickers.

The members of this gang, known only as "Aztecas" in Juarez, were accused of racketeering under the RICO act.

Diverse Crimes

The report states that the gangs operate under the arm of the Mexican Cartels, they have been instructed to expand their illegal activities to include sexual trafficking and illegal alien smuggling.

The gangs most involved in these types of crimes are, Tango Blast, the Mexican Mafia, the Bloods, the Crips, and Barrio Azteca.

Some of these groups of organised criminals in Texas, regularly support the operations of the Cartels in human contraband, facilitating the transport of groups of illegal aliens, to cross the frontier between Juarez and El Paso.

One of the cases revealed the participation of members of the organised crime group of Charles Marquez alias "El Puerkote" the leader of a sexual trafficking network in El Paso.

Marquez was arrested in 2012 and declared himself innocent, but was found culpable of seven charges that included sexual trafficking of minors, conspiracy to force or seduce undocumented immigrants to engage in sexual activities, as well as importation of illegal immigrants.

The prosecution said that Marquez recruited the women, through classified ads in Juarez Newspapers, who were then forced into prostitution with customers in hotels in the city and state of New Mexico.

Also it was said of Marquez that he the women including minors that he recruited, were kidnapped with ransom demands of $200 per person.

Original article in Spanish at Sinembargo


Monday, February 16, 2015



DPS Officers and Detectives Seize Methamphetamine Valued at $440K Within Broccoli Load
Saturday, February 14, 2015 -

Black Canyon City- A 39-year-old commercial truck driver was arrested early Saturday morning after a DPS officer discovered a duffle bag containing methamphetamine hidden in a load of broccoli.

The officer initiated a traffic stop on the commercial truck for a moving violation along northbound I-17 at milepost 220, at about 2:45 a.m. During the traffic stop the officer conducted a search of the semi-trailer loaded with broccoli and located a duffle bag containing multiple packages of methamphetamine weighing a total of 40 lbs.

DPS narcotics detectives have taken the lead in this drug smuggling investigation.

The suspect, Ata Hamed Taha
of Greensboro, North Carolina was booked into the Maricopa County Jail for possession of dangerous drugs, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, transportation of dangerous drugs for sale, conspiracy, and control of an illegal enterprise.

Although this is a significant drug seizure, it is just an example of the desperation by drug smugglers trying to get their dangerous product into our neighborhoods. By taking these drug loads off the highways the Arizona Department of Public Safety is helping to make our communitites a little safer.

Pictures available at:


Note: this will make your day and night

Border Patrol agents advised to release drunk drivers
Posted: Feb 13, 2015 9:20 PM MST
Updated: Feb 13, 2015 9:25 PM MST
By Adam Longo

A training memo for federal agents who patrol Arizona advises them they are under no obligation to detain an alcohol impaired driver and they face no liability by allowing them to continue driving.

The memo was shared exclusively with CBS5 Friday night. It was circulated among Customs and Border Patrol agents who work Arizona's Tucson sector. The memo gives agents three options of what they can do with a driver they suspect to be impaired:

Do not detain them
Detain the impaired individual at the request of a state or local law enforcement officer
Detain the impaired individual without a request from a state or local law enforcement officer
The memo also explains the ramifications of each option and what liability the agent could face. Only in the "do not detain them" option would the agent be free from any liability.

Border Patrol agents are not certified peace officers in Arizona, meaning they do not have the lawful authority to arrest someone suspected of breaking state law.

"The question is how much authority does Border Patrol have to enforce state laws against U.S. citizens," former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Alex Lane said. "Do we want Border Patrol checkpoints to also be DUI checkpoints?"

"I can assure you that the agents I represent and the people I work with just would not release someone who was severely intoxicated," said Art Del Cueto, president of Local 2544, the union representing Border Patrol agents.

Del Cueto says his agents carry a certain moral authority after the 2010 death of CBP agent Michael Gallagher near Casa Grande. Gallagher was killed on duty by a drunk driver.
"Especially since we were hit hard by the death of one of our own. How could we release them?" Del Cueto said.

Customs and Border Patrol released this statement to CBS5:

The recent informational slide, which was inappropriately released outside of CBP, was intended as an internal messaging slide to provide training to Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents about their legal options when encountering drivers who appear to be impaired. In cases where Border Patrol agents encounter possibly impaired drivers, they are trained to exercise their professional judgment when assessing the current situation. Information on the slide does not direct agents to detain or not detain these drivers, but instead provides them information, based on judicial precedent, to use their discretion when encountering possibly impaired drivers. The Border Patrol often releases internal messaging on a wide range of topics to inform agents so that they may better perform their duties within the scope of the law.

The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, released a statement as well:

"MADD urges all law enforcement officers to protect the public by following standard procedures when encountering anyone suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Law enforcement is the first line of defense in preventing drunk and drugged driving, and their efforts are crucial to keep our roadways safe."

Read more:

9 homicides recorded in Sonora
FEB 12 2015
Written by Super User (La Verdad de Agua Prieta)

9 homicides recorded in Sonora
Nine reached the number of homicides this year in Hermosillo, after two people were shot dead in the San Benito area.

Of the nine murders that have occurred this year, this is the first time that two people die in the same crime.

The attorney general in the state, Carlos Navarro Sugich said Tuesday that in Hermosillo had counted seven people were killed intentionally, which puts the capital of Sonora as the second municipality with more murders in the state, only surpassed by Ciudad Obregón with 18.

The state is maintained until yesterday with a total of 48 murders of which 16 are in different municipalities (except in Obregon, Hermosillo and Nogales).


Catch individuals with guns and drugs
Details Published on Sunday February 15, 2015,
Written by Media Obson

Cajeme. (Son)

Were made available to the Federal Public Ministry in turn after their arrest.
Elements of Joint Operation carried out the arrest of three individuals who were seized with four servings of marijuana and a revolver with six cartridges ... .sumario

It is Juan Alberto Mendez Elizalde, 21 years old, residing in the colony Rodeo; Javier Arak Ortiz Peña, 32 years old, and Luis Alberto Valdez Verdugo, 24 years old, both residing in the colony Villa Fontana.
The arrest was made by Joint Operation elements while conducting prevention and surveillance patrols in the colony Valle Dorado. When going along the street Valle del Soya, agents noticed the above persons, which by noting the presence of the official units they tried to flee.
So immediately they were arrested and On performing reviews were seized two firearms, this being a 357 caliber revolver with six cartridges in the cylinder; and .38 special revolver.
They were also seized four wrappers made of transparent plastic containing marijuana inside.
The detainees, firearms and drug seized were made available to the Public Prosecutor of the Common Jurisdiction who in the next few hours defined the status of the aforementioned subjects.


Note: two 16 yr. boys playing with AK clone and pistol.


note; online poll for short time on Sunday. (Hermosillo, Son.)

"For Possessing firearms in the home?
Are you in favor of possessing firearms at home?

Yes 52.24% (432 votes)

No 47.76% (395 votes)

Total votes: 827

* This is a survey and has no scientific validity, and reflects the position of accepting participation and visitors.

Friday, February 13, 2015



Note: it just keeps coming.

Note: No details on the quantities, especially the heroin, cocaine and meth.

Border Patrol Interdicts Criminals at I-19 Checkpoint
Release Date: February 10, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. – Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents arrested three suspects and seized narcotics worth approximately $263,700 at the I-19 checkpoint over the weekend.

On Feb. 6, a canine at the I-19 checkpoint assisted agents in the discovery of $35,000 worth of marijuana hidden inside a vehicle's ceiling. Agents arrested the driver and seized the marijuana.

Border Patrol agents at the Interstate 19 traffic checkpoint seized $35,000 worth of marijuana from the headliner of smuggling vehicle

The next day, agents at the checkpoint referred a vehicle with two occupants for a secondary inspection after a canine alert. As a result, agents discovered 20 packages of methamphetamine, three packages of heroin, and two packages of cocaine concealed in the vehicle's trunk compartment. Agents arrested the male Mexican national driver and the female United States citizen passenger.

(pr ad)
Immigration checkpoints are an effective and essential component of the Border Patrol's border enforcement strategy. These checkpoints are critical to our patrol efforts, as they deny major routes of egress from the border region to smugglers intent on delivering people, drugs, and other contraband into the interior of the United States. The Border Patrol carefully selects checkpoint locations to maximize border enforcement and continuously evaluates our operations to ensure they are effective and do not pose an undo impact to law abiding citizens.

Agents continue to diligently protect and secure America's borders by accomplishing the mission within the context of the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. search and seizure laws, and the judicial decisions that regulate checkpoint operations, including section 287 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC § 1357), and United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, among others.

The drugs were seized in accordance with Tucson Sector guidelines, and all subjects were presented for prosecution.


Four Arrested, More Than $257,000 in Drugs Seized
Release Date: February 10, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. – Customs and Border Protection officers arrested two Mexican nationals and two U.S. citizens during separate recent attempts to smuggle methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana through the Port of Nogales.

Officers at the Dennis DeConcini crossing on Feb. 6 selected a Pontiac SUV, driven by a 35-year-old man from Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico, for further inspection. After a narcotics-detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs, officers found nearly 8 pounds of cocaine, worth $80,000, and more than five pounds of methamphetamine, worth nearly $16,000, in the SUV's rocker panel.

CBP officers at the Port of Douglas discover more than 117 pounds of marijuana in the floorboard and rear quarter panel of a smuggling vehicle

On Feb. 8, officers at the DeConcini crossing referred a 26-year-old man from Nogales, Arizona, for further inspection of his Suzuki sedan and discovered more than 117 pounds of marijuana, valued at nearly $59,000, in the floorboard and rear quarter panel.

Earlier that day, officers at the Morley Pedestrian Gate referred an 18-year-old Tucson man for further questioning as he entered the United States. After a service canine alerted to the presence of drugs, officers searched the man and found two packages taped to his upper torso, one stuffed into the rear waistband of his pants, and a fourth attached to his crotch. The packages contained 4.7 pounds of heroin worth nearly $67,000.

On Feb. 9, officers at the DeConcini crossing referred a 47-year-old woman from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, for further inspection of her Hyundai sedan and located six packages of meth within the center console. The drugs, weighing nearly 11 pounds, are worth in excess of $32,000.

Officers processed the vehicles and drugs for seizure, and referred the four subjects to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.


Naco CBP Officers Seize $254K in Heroin
Release Date: February 10, 2015

CBP officers located 18 pounds of heroin within the manifold area of a smuggling vehicle.

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested two Mexican nationals Feb 6 for attempting to smuggle 18 pounds of heroin through the Port of Naco.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers referred an Isuzu SUV, occupied by two males, for a secondary inspection. Officers assisted by a CBP narcotics-detection canine found hidden packages in the vehicle containing 18 pounds of heroin worth approximately $254,000.

Officers seized the drugs and vehicles, and referred the 28-year-old driver and his 22-year old passenger to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.


Note: and then this one: SE AZ.

Three suspects apprehended after leading DPS officer on high-speed chase along State Route 191
Search continues for two remaining suspects
Thursday, February 12, 2015 -

A DPS officer was involved in a high-speed pursuit this morning on northbound State Route 191, north of Interstate 10. Three subjects were arrested and the search continues for two additional suspects.
The incident began at about 8:48 a.m. this morning when the DPS officer observed a Chevy four-door passenger vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed northbound on State Route 191, in the area of milepost 93.
The officer was able to catch up to the vehicle and activate his emergency lights in an attempt to get the vehicle to pull over. However, the vehicle failed to stop and continued northbound.

The vehicle gradually sped up to over 100 mph. In the area of milepost 109, the vehicle pulled over as if it was going to stop, but then pulled away. It eventually slowed and pulled over a second time. At that point, the driver and front seat passenger both jumped out of the moving vehicle and ran.

The car eventually came to a stop on the side of the road and three more passengers, who were all sitting in the backseat, ran from the scene. The officer was able to apprehend one of the passengers.

Two more suspects were apprehended a short time later with the assistance of personnel from the U.S. Border Patrol, the Graham County Sheriff's Office, the Safford Police Department, and the Bureau of Land Management.

The search continues for the two remaining suspects.


Thursday, February 12, 2015



Douglas CBP Officers Seize Ammunition at Port
Release Date: February 11, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. — Three hundred rounds of ammunition headed for Mexico were seized Feb. 10 by Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Port of Douglas.CBP officers in Douglas, Ariz. locate a box of ammunition hidden in the waist of a smugglers pants.Three hundred rounds of 9mm ammunition were seized by CBP officers in southeastern Arizona on Tuesday, Feb. 10

Officers conducting outbound pedestrian operations referred Yanael Jimenez, 27, a U.S. citizen living in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, for further questioning. During the questioning and subsequent search, officers located six boxes of 9mm ammunition that were hidden in his waistband and around his thighs.

Officers seized the ammunition and turned Jimenez over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015



Note: The AZMEX border continues to be active, some samples follow:

Note: Even 10 tons of "medical" marijuana seems to be not enough.

21 are arrested, $688,500 in pot is seized
Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015 8:52 pm |
Updated: 9:00 pm, Mon Feb 9, 2015.
From Staff Reports
Posted on Feb 9, 2015by Amy Crawford

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents seized 1,377 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $688,500, over the weekend. There were 21 suspects arrested as a result.

Seven individuals were arrested west of Gila Bend on Thursday evening, carrying backpacks of marijuana weighing a combined 190 pounds, with a value of $95,000. All seven also admitted to entering the U.S. without authorization.

On Friday, agents found four men with three large backpacks in another incident around Gila Bend. The group dropped their backpacks and attempted to flee the agents as they approached. All four suspects were apprehended and the seized backpacks held 131 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $65,500.

In another incident on Friday at the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge, agents found four abandoned bundles of marijuana weighing a combined 168 pounds, worth approximately $84,000. Later that evening, agents tracking suspects in the same area found seven abandoned backpacks filled with 321 pounds of marijuana, valued at $160,500.

At Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge on Sunday night, agents located and arrested 10 individuals carrying 567 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $283,500.


Note: Health concerns still with us also.

Authorities maintain campaign against dengue and chikungunya
Details Published on Tuesday February 10, 2015,
Written by Marco A. Manriquez / El Diario

The heat is coming and with it the proliferation of mosquitoes that transmit these viruses.
The Ministry of Health, through the Health jurisdiction. 2 and the Municipal Government of Caborca, are working proactively to prevent an outbreak of Dengue and Chikungunya in the town.

Therefore, two weeks ago, and taking advantage of it's still cold and these mosquitoes are not yet active they are handing out leaflets among citizens, explaining the symptoms of those suffering from this disease or may be, if being infected, that are addressed promptly.

Symptoms of a person infected with dengue appear between 3 and 14 days after being bitten by a mosquito and major signs are: severe headache, high fever, pain behind the eyes, muscle pain and joints as well such as nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms of people infected with Chikungunya fever are: sudden onset of fever (over 38C degrees) accompanied by debilitating joint pain. Also headache, conjunctivitis, vomiting and nausea, diffuse back pain and skin disorders.

There should be a comprehensive prevention with the help of the general public, keeping the spaces where they live, and their environments, completely hygienic.
Example: Do not throw trash in containers or patios, terraces, streets and vacant lots where water can accumulate; Keeping the courtyards and gardens without weeds, uncovering storm drains, ceilings.


Parking Meter sinks and locate narcotúnel at the International Avenue
Details Published on Tuesday February 10, 2015,
Written by Cesar Barragan / El Diario

A narcotúnel construction was discovered by the authorities of this city after collapsing a meter located on the International Avenue in Colonia Centro.
The finding was reported around 11:00 hours, when a Municipal Transit police agent for parking meters realized that one of the meters had collapsed, revealing an excavation within the lot.
Therefore he notified the federal and military authorities, who came to the place realizing that the excavation had a depth of 4 meters in the direction of the United States.
These authorities presume that was due to poor ground excavation suspected drug traffickers that the meter sank exposing said "narcotúnel".
Agents of the Federal Police and Mexican Army troops maintained communication that federal agents neighbor checking that the tunnel was short of the American side.
It is noteworthy that federal authorities ordered the excavation was covered again.


Seize half a million dollars
Details Published on Tuesday February 10, 2015,
Written by Staff / El Diario

A total of $ 550,000 were seized by Mexican Army personnel at the customs checkpoint San Emeterio, located in Sonoyta, together with SAT staff.
Authorities, through a review of Gama rays detected irregularities aboard a passenger bus, which upon closer inspection located 18 packages wrapped in paper, containing $ 550,000.
The bus driver was arrested and cash made available to the appropriate authorities.


Sunday, February 8, 2015



Note: One might suspect they in the country illegally?

13 hours 15 minutes ago by Abby Friedemann
Border Patrol arrests 11 people with an extensive criminal history

TUCSON- The Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents have made 11 arrests within the last month and some of the criminals aren't strangers to breaking the law.

According to the Border Patrol, beginning Dec. 29 some of the people arrested have previous been convicted of serious crimes like manslaughter, sexual intercourse with a minor and rape.

The Ajo, Casa Grande, Tucson and Nogales agents arrested subjects who are of Mexican and Guatemalan decent.

On Jan. 22, Douglas agents responded to a robbery to a local robbery to find two Mexican Nationals in the area with the reported stolen items. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office also responded to the call and arrested both of the subjects.

The next day, agents from The Brian A. Terry Station arrested a Mexican resident convicted of manslaughter after being called to back up Bisbee Police Department during a traffic stop.

Then on Jan. 24, Douglas Station agents took a Mexican national into custody with a long list of convicted crimes like child neglect, battery and domestic violence.

Tucson Sector guidelines were followed as the 11 subjects were processed for prosecution or removal proceedings.

The subjects were correctly identified by the Integrated Automated Fingerprinting System in addition to a criminal history check.

Both the Customs and Border Protection and The Border Patrol said they urge the public to report suspicious activity. All calls can remain anonymous and toll free at 1-877-872-7435.


Comment: the de facto legalization of pot in the U.S. seems to have ended the smuggling ops. For sure.
BTW a report from AZ DHS says there were more than 1.4 million sales for a total of 10 tons in 2014.
Just what AZ needs, more doped up parasites.

Sieze shipment of 1,200 kilos of marijuana in Sonora
Organización Editorial Mexicana
January 27, 2015
Noel F. Alvarado / La Prensa

México.- As a result of interagency collaboration between the Federal Police, the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) and local police in General Plutarco Elias Calles, Sonora, was secured more than a ton of marijuana and arrested one person.

This was a result of security and surveillance patrols conducted jointly by federal and municipal elements in Sonoyta. The operation took place on the perimeter of ejido Papagos, where he who was arrested who gave his name Jesus Rios Orlando Rojas.

The drugs contained in more than 100 packages, was transported in a van with license plates from the United States.

From the facts became part of the Public Prosecutor's Office, at whose disposal they were the detainee, the drugs and vehicle.

- See more at:


PGR seizes four tons of marijuana in Navojoa Sonora
Details Published on Thursday January 29, 2015,
Written by Staff / El Diario

Authorities discovered that inside the trailer box.
The Attorney General's Office (PGR) through the Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA) and the Deputy Regional Control, Criminal Proceedings and Amparo (SCRPPA) in its delegation in Sonora, one arrest and said four tons, 350 kilograms of marijuana in the town of Navojoa.
The driver was arrested and turned over with the drugs to the prosecutor of the Federation.
AIC staff, in response to a citizen complaint, went to the junction "La Jaula", located at kilometer 129 + 600 of Highway Number 15, which reviewed a Volvo tractor coupled to a trailer "Remoza: brand , license plates of Federal Public Service.
In this inspection, investigating officers found four tons, 350 kilograms of marijuana packed in 682 packets.
The operator of the unit was arraigned for the crime against health in a mode of transportation of marijuana, and held in the CEFERESO Number Four Northwest, residing in Tepic, Nayarit, available to the Seventh District Court, based in Cd. Obregón, Sonora.


Note: of interest mostly to locals.

Juárez had most homicides of U.S. citizens in 2010-2014, U.S. statistics show
Report shows city had highest number of homicide victims between 2010 and 2014; US officials say figure could be higher

By Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times
POSTED: 01/24/2015 09:06:12 PM MST

Between 2010 and 2014, the State Department reported that a total of 1,106 U.S. citizens died in Mexico from other than natural causes, and about 82 of them were homicide victims in Juárez.

During the five-year period, Juárez claimed the highest number of homicides in Mexico involving U.S. citizens, according to information reported to the U.S. State Department. Tijuana, with 66 homicides of U.S. citizens, had the next highest number for 2010-2014.

A total of 138 U.S. citizens died in Mexico in 2014, five of them in Juárez, including two homicide victims. The other three deaths of U.S. citizens in Juárez included someone who was killed as a result of a vehicle accident, a second person who committed suicide and a third person who died in a drug-related incident, officials said.

The Chihuahua Attorney General's Office reported this month that Juárez had a total of 424 homicides in 2014, a figure that would have included the three U.S. citizens.

The U.S. State Department, which relies on voluntary reports from Mexican authorities and families of the deceased people, does not identify the victims by name, gender or age.

The department provides, when such details are known, the dates when Americans died from non-natural causes, and the cities and states where the deaths occurred.

Considering the voluntary nature of the reports to the U.S. State Department, U.S. officials said there could be more deaths. Over the past 20 years, dozens of U.S. citizens have been reported missing in Mexico, including in Juárez.


Detienen cargamento con mil 200 kilos de marihuana en Sonora
Organización Editorial Mexicana
27 de enero de 2015
Noel F. Alvarado /La Prensa

México.- Como resultado de la colaboración interinstitucional entre la Policía Federal, la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (Sedena) y policías locales en General Plutarco Elías Calles, Sonora, fue asegurada más de una tonelada de marihuana y detenida una persona.

Lo anterior, fue resultado de patrullajes de seguridad y vigilancia realizados de manera conjunta por elementos federales y municipales en Sonoyta. La operación tuvo lugar en el perímetro del ejido Papagos, donde fue detenido quien dijo llamarse Jesús Orlando Ríos Rojas.

La droga, contenida en más de 100 paquetes, era transportada en una camioneta con placas de circulación de los Estados Unidos.

De los hechos se dio parte al Ministerio Público de la Federación, a cuya disposición quedaron el detenido, el enervante y el automotor.

- See more at:


Asegura la PGR cuatro toneladas de marihuana en Navojoa
Detalles Publicado el Jueves 29 de Enero de 2015,
Escrito por Redacción / El Diario

Autoridades la descubrieron dentro de la caja que era remolcada por un tráiler.
La Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) a través de la Agencia de Investigación Criminal (AIC) y de la Subprocuraduría de Control Regional, Procedimientos Penales y Amparo (SCRPPA), en su delegación en Sonora, detuvo a una persona y aseguró cuatro toneladas 350 kilogramos de marihuana en el municipio de Navojoa.
El detenido y el estupefaciente fueron puestos a disposición del agente del Ministerio Público de la Federación.
Personal de la AIC, en respuesta a una denuncia ciudadana, se dirigió al entronque "La Jaula", ubicado en el kilómetro 129+600 de la Carretera Federal Número 15, donde revisó un tractocamión marca Volvo, acoplado a una caja seca marca Remoza, con placas del Servicio Público Federal.
En dicha inspección, los agentes investigadores encontraron las cuatro toneladas 350 kilogramos de marihuana asegurada, embalada en 682 paquetes.
El operador de la unidad fue consignado por el delito Contra la Salud, en su modalidad de transporte de marihuana, y recluido en el CEFERESO número Cuatro Noroeste, con residencia en Tepic, Nayarit, a disposición del Juzgado Séptimo de Distrito, con sede en Ciudad Obregón.


Monday, February 2, 2015



Note: Video at link

Comment: We most likely not seeing all of the story, but several problems / issues here.

a. One problem is many agents are now from the east and north. When BP agents were mostly from the SouthWest, not so many problems such as Ms Weaver faced.

b. Another aspect of the "gun" problem: For those of us who live on or near the border. Most of us have firearms, and we keep them with us. It is totally legal in AZ, NM, and TX to keep and bear arms. Would suggest the city types from the east get mandatory training on SW customs and culture.

c. Another problem: "But in at least five border counties in Texas and Arizona, county prosecutors have declined in recent years to prosecute the flood of minor violations Border Patrol agents turn up at checkpoints". We know which counties.

d. Beyond the policy issues of some of the politicians of "c", another major problem: Border states and counties bear much of the burden for border related law enforcement, way too much of it not reimbursed by the federal government.

e. Most of us on the border know the dogs can alert when wanted. Not always a bad thing but can be abused.

Teacher with legal guns triggers CBP checkpoint incident
Gil Kerlikowske - Border checkpoints
Bob Ortega, The Republic | 9:41 p.m. MST January 30, 2015

Jennifer Weaver
(Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Weaver)

Chief of Customs and Border Protection calls Border Patrol interior checkpoints valuable, necessary
Border residents, rights' groups allege harassment, question legality of Border Patrol checkpoints
Teacher says her stop turned ugly after she told agents she had two pistols, which were legal

Jennifer Weaver was surprised late last month when the Border Patrol agent at the checkpoint on U.S. 67 south of Marfa, Texas, told her that his dog had "alerted" on her pickup truck.

"I knew there was nothing in my truck of interest to anyone," said Weaver, a schoolteacher. She pulled over. She answered the agent's questions. But when she replied that, yes, she had weapons — two pistols in her glove compartment, for which she had a concealed-handgun license in her purse — the stop turned ugly, she said.

Agents ordered her out of her truck. They forced her to the ground. They held her for an hour, running gun checks and repeatedly searching her vehicle, before telling her she was free to leave, she said.

Two weeks later, it happened again. This time, Weaver said in an account disputed by the Border Patrol, an agent threatened to shoot her if she moved as they pulled her out of her truck.

What happened next to Weaver would not be an isolated incident.

Complaints about checkpoints

The Border Patrol operates scores of permanent and temporary checkpoints on major roads and highways up to 100 miles from the southern and northern U.S. borders. Ostensibly, these checkpoints are meant primarily to check the immigration status of those who pass through them.

But critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, charge that the checkpoints have become an invasive catch-all for general law enforcement, and that they subject residents who pass through them to harassment and unconstitutional search and seizure. Even Customs and Border Protection leaders have raised questions about the checkpoints.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Gil KerlikowskeU.S. Customs and Border Protection Gil Kerlikowske spoke to The Arizona Republic on Jan. 26, 2015, in Phoenix. "We have developed an outreach plan with the State Department and the three Central American countries, with a two-part message: One, it's very dangerous to come. Two, if you do come, you will not be given sanctuary. You'll be detained and you will not be allowed to stay," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said.

CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, in an interview this week with The Arizona Republic, defended the checkpoints as valuable, though he said he, too, has had questions about them.

Checkpoint encounters can be deadly: On several occasions, agents have been shot at or driven at. And three people have been killed after running through Border Patrol interior checkpoints in the past three years.

In the most recent incident, Jan. 22, Border Patrol agents shot to death a man the FBI identified as Tiano Meton, 25, after he allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint on Interstate 10 near Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Meton, whose nationality has not been released, drove 30 miles past the checkpoint before stopping, according to a CBP news release. One of four agents approaching the vehicle yelled "gun!" and two agents opened fire. They recovered a pellet pistol, the agency said.

The FBI's El Paso office said its investigation continues.

At many major checkpoints, such as one operating on Interstate 19 between Nogales and Tucson, agents regularly seize large quantities of drugs. But in at least five border counties in Texas and Arizona, county prosecutors have declined in recent years to prosecute the flood of minor violations Border Patrol agents turn up at checkpoints.

For its part, the Border Patrol only started systematically collecting and analyzing checkpoint-specific data this fiscal year and has not released such data to the public.

The ACLU has filed complaints about the checkpoints with the Border Patrol's parent agency, CBP, and with the Department of Homeland Security; it is one of several organizations and individuals suing CBP over ­alleged rights violations at various checkpoints.

The checkpoints have spawned a YouTube category of people who post videos of themselves refusing to answer agents' questions.

CBP's Kerlikowske, in his interview with The Republic, said he understands the concerns people are raising.

"When I took this job in March" of last year, he said, "I did not know much about checkpoints. And frankly, I'll tell you, I was a little curious as to, OK, how far away from the border are they? And why are they there? And are we really getting much benefit from them? And I heard complaints. … I have looked at this, and I am continuing to look at this much more in depth."

But Kerlikowske also said he doesn't see any need to change how the checkpoints operate.

"We have not done a particularly good job at the checkpoints in several places. One is explaining to people … that these are valuable, these can be quite helpful. We rescue people at these checkpoints. We seize drugs at these checkpoints, and we make arrests of people who are wanted on warrants."

In a 1976 ruling, U.S. vs. Martinez-Fuentes, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Border Patrol's authority to operate checkpoints away from the border to verify residency status. But the court said questions at interior checkpoints must be brief, minimally intrusive and focused on immigration status. Any "further detention ... must be based on consent or probable cause."

In practice, however, probable cause can be a fuzzy standard, said James Duff Lyall, an ACLU attorney in Tucson who is representing residents of Arivaca who allege harassment by Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint outside that community, south of Tucson, and who say their complaints have gotten little or no response.

"I get checkpoint- ­related complaints on a regular basis," Lyall said. But, he added, "as long as they say their primary purpose is immigration-related, it's hard to challenge — even if it is mostly about drugs."

Kerlikowske all but acknowledged as much in his interview. Asked whether the scope of the checkpoints has broadened far beyond what the court envisioned in the Martinez-Fuentes case, he said, "There are a number of cases that have been filed regarding the checkpoints, and I think it depends on where these cases go and at what level within the court system they'll actually be settled. But things are very different, too, in many ways," than in 1976, he said, reiterating that the checkpoints "are very helpful."

The use of interior checkpoints expanded dramatically after 9/11. The Border Patrol acknowledges operating 35 "permanent" checkpoints but declines to specify how many "tactical," nominally temporary checkpoints it runs. Agency documents obtained by The Republic through Freedom of Information Act requests indicate a capacity to operate up to 200 checkpoints.

Feeling targeted

Weaver, the teacher, who has to use a walker because of severe injuries from a car accident, said the second time she was stopped by the Border Patrol, she was on her way to visit her dog at an animal hospital, where it was ­being treated after a run-in with a porcupine.

She said she tried to explain to the agents who ordered her out that she couldn't stand or walk without her walker, which was in the bed of her truck. After being wrestled out of the car, searched and held again, she said the agents told her their dog had "alerted" to a bottle of prescription painkillers.

When she complained to the agent in charge of the Marfa Border Patrol station, she says she was told that if she carries her prescription medication with her, she can expect to be searched again.

Bill Brooks, spokesman for the Border ­Patrol's Big Bend ( Texas) Sector, responded, "We're satisfied that our agents operated properly. They were courteous to her; they provided her with the information she needed to file a complaint. There wasn't anything done by our agents that was out of line."

Weaver said she feels targeted for carrying a gun and for filing a complaint. "I've never been arrested in my life," she said. "I filed a complaint, but they don't promise any remedy. I feel they just treat everybody like a criminal."


Minuteman member sentenced for pointing rifle at MCSO deputy
Posted: Jan 30, 2015 4:33 PM MST
Updated: Jan 30, 2015 4:40 PM MST
By Jennifer Thomas
Posted by Catherine Holland
Richard Malley (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

A member of the Arizona Minuteman border-watch movement has been sentenced to six months in jail for pointing a rifle at a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy who he mistook for a drug smuggler.

Richard Malley, 50, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault after the 2013 incident along Interstate 8 near Gila Bend and later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

Malley also received 18 months of supervised probation when he was sentenced Friday.

According to court documents, Malley and two other group members were out looking for illegal activity when two deputies checking areas frequently used in drug trafficking approached in a vehicle.

The deputies then began searching on foot.

Malley pointed a rifle at one of the deputies and aimed a flashlight at his face, according to the documents. The deputy identified himself, but Malley did not put down his weapon.

Malley identified himself as a militia Minuteman.

The deputy showed Malley his badge, the patches on his sleeves and the word "Sheriff" across his chest then told him to surrender his firearms, but he refused, according to court records.

Malley was taken into custody after more deputies responded to the scene.

Malley said he was in fear for his life because he was in the middle of the desert and felt that the deputy was a drug smuggler working for a cartel. According to the court documents, Malley said he felt he had the right to point his rifle because he had reasonable suspicion to believe a crime was occurring.

Read more: