Friday, February 19, 2016



Note: Stopping? Not even slowing.

$8.5-million pot bust is second-largest in state port history
Nogales International Updated 23 min ago (0)

Nearly 17,100 pounds of marijuana were found in a trailer at the Mariposa Commercial facility.
Federal officers in Nogales made the second-largest marijuana bust in Arizona port history when they discovered $8.5 million worth in marijuana in a shipment identified as airplane parts.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said its officers at the Mariposa Commercial Facility seized the 17,060-pound load after sending a tractor-trailer driven by Gerardo Cruz, 23, of Colonia La Mesa, Sonora, for a secondary inspection on Feb. 12.

A criminal complaint filed at U.S. District Court says Cruz acted suspiciously upon arriving at the port.

"When the primary CBP officer received the shipping paperwork from Cruz, the officer noticed that Cruz's hand was shaking and that he was sweating profusely," the complaint says.

A subsequent X-ray of the trailer showed anomalies in the load.

"Upon opening the rear doors, officers removed two pallets closest to the doors and observed multiple pallets with cardboard boxes on top," the complaint says. "The officers opened the cardboard boxes and discovered 708 packages."

A sample from the packages tested positive for marijuana.

"Near-record seizures such as this are the result of a combined effort by our officers, canine, and technology," said Guadalupe Ramirez, CBP's port director in Nogales.

He noted that the only larger marijuana seizure in state port history was the more than 20,000 pounds nabbed at the Mariposa port in November 2013.

Cruz reportedly waived his Miranda rights and told a federal investigator that that he agreed to cross the load into the United States in exchange for $4,000 after being pressured by traffickers. However, he said, he thought the men would kill him once he returned to Mexico, though he acknowledged that they never explicitly threatened to do so.

According to details contained in the complaint, Cruz said that once he crossed into the United States, he was to wait for a phone call to tell him where to go with the marijuana.


Fifth suspect arrested in Wise Street home invasion
Nogales International Updated Feb 16, 2016 (0)

Gabriel Maldonado was arrested early Tuesday morning.
A fifth suspect in an armed home invasion on West Wise Street was arrested early Tuesday morning, a police official said.

Gabriel Maldonado, 21, was arrested at a residence on the 700 block of West Hughes Street after police received a tip that he was staying there with family members.

At around 3:50 a.m., officers with the Nogales Police Department went to the home and found Maldonado asleep on the couch. They arrested him without incident, said Sgt. Robert Fierros, a department spokesman.

He was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail on one count of first-degree burglary and five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The charges stem from a home invasion on Jan. 28 in which a group of armed men, dressed in tactical gear, forced their way into a home on West Wise Street and confronted several people, including a 2-month-old infant. A male victim was hit on the head with the muzzle of a long rifle before the assailants fled the scene in a vehicle.

During a press conference last Wednesday, NPD Chief Derek Arnson said an inter-agency operation, "Operation Safe Home," led to the arrest of four other suspects between Feb. 7-9.

The other four suspects – Miguel Huerta Zuniga, Armando Ruiz Valencia, Isaac Chaparro and Juan Ricardo Chaparro – were also booked into Santa Cruz County Jail and face one count of first-degree burglary and five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Ruiz Valencia is charged with an additional count of impersonating a police officer.


Note: and then this one: "Although criminal activity on the Arizona-Mexico border is reported to have been greatly reduced in recent years"

Border Patrol works to combat advanced activity
Updated Feb 16, 2016

United States Border Patrol agents, as part of the Tucson Sector Horse Patrol hoof out 147 pounds of marijuana seized near Douglas on Feb. 10.

Although criminal activity on the Arizona-Mexico border is reported to have been greatly reduced in recent years, tactics remain persistent and more advanced than ever in our area, says Patrol Agent in Charge, Dion Ethell of the United States Border Patrol Douglas Station.

"It's no surprise that Douglas activity, in all of our illicit activity, is very similar in nature to what we see across Arizona," said Ethell. "The level of sophistication out here however, in terms of the criminal element, is high."

Part of the Tucson Sector Border Patrol, Ethell refers to activity around the Douglas Station as a constant cat and mouse game.

He added, "Across the board whether it be at my station or other stations, Tucson Sector Joint Task Force of West-Arizona is committed to continuing to counter those efforts that the criminal element throws at us."

An example of this effort is the station's work with CBP Air and Marine Operations to bring Unmanned Air Systems (UAS), or drones, to the area. The station works with assets in Fort Huachuca, Tucson, and areas around New Mexico to utilize the Predator UAS, a system manned surveillance operation.

"We see this as another tool in our tool belt. It's a great opportunity to build and use technology, which is important to our national strategy, and very important to us here in Douglas," Ethell said. "Every time that this UAS is up in the air, it gives us that added surveillance, capability, and situational awareness that we don't have when it's not flying."

A great asset, says Ethell, the Predator UAS does not fly 365 days a year. The Douglas Station works with Tucson assets to apply the appropriate enforcement posture with these UAS.

"Technology as a whole, really has benefited us out here in Arizona," said the patrol agent in charge. "We've talked about the complexity and sophistication of the criminal element, and being able to stay ahead, and technology gives us that advantage."

Ethell noted that the UAS are likely to be undetectable by the common civilian, and are primarily used in rural and remote areas that are difficult to surveillance otherwise.

"Activity is always ever changing, always dynamic in nature," Ethell claimed. "We're equally flexible and dynamic in our own, working with our partners to stay ahead."

The patrol agent in charge says his station is still leading the Tucson Sector in terms of activity, but adds it's a far cry from what it used to be. Although local statistics are unable to be disclosed, the Tucson Sector also seems to be leading in activity throughout the country, behind the Rio Grande Valley Sector out of Texas.

With stations in Douglas, Naco, Nogales, Sonoita, Casa Grande, Ajo, and Willcox--and 11 checkpoints in Tucson-- the Tucson Sector reported 63,397 apprehensions and 14,481 Other Than Mexican apprehensions for 2015. Other Southwest Border Sectors, such as the Yuma Sector, reported only 7, 142 apprehensions and 3,297 Other Than Mexican apprehensions.

In 2015, the Tucson Sector led the county in apprehending 746,868 pounds of marijuana, compared to the El Paso sector who reported the apprehension of 60,030 pounds, and the Yuma Sector, 53,019 pounds.

"Activity is activity so we have to treat every crossing as important, every smuggling attempt, and every attempt to bring contraband into the United States," noted Ethell.

The Douglas Station is working to combat civilian exploitation, says Ethell, especially when involving youth, a persistent issue in the Douglas area.

"It's no surprise that the criminal element is looking for whatever they can to exploit," Ethell said. "Our youth are exceptionally susceptible to that, with the lure of easy money, and the opportunity to make a quick buck. These guys promise a lot, and it's just a real temptation for them to get involved."

Through the Operation Detour Program, Border Patrol agents are actively visiting schools to reinforce the message that border criminals are actively pursuing youth partners. Presenting--often graphic-- examples of consequences, the program works to stem young people from getting involved in any illicit border activity.

"It's a great opportunity to give back and share, and be able to have kids look up to police officers and agents," said Ethell. "We want them to understand that we're here to help them."

He continued, "I want everyone to know that we are committed to border security here, and protecting the citizens of Douglas and the outlining areas. We hope that everyone will continue being as engaged as they have been with us in helping us solve this problem together. The citizens who are involved are doing a great service to their county in helping us, so I appreciate the good work that has been done and extended to us."


Note: no info on immigration status if any.

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