Thursday, April 21, 2016



Note: Even more trouble ahead? "under new orders to protect their shipments," Video at link.

Shootouts may signal change in smuggling tactics

Posted: Apr 19, 2016 8:59 PM MST
Updated: Apr 19, 2016 10:10 PM MST
By Morgan Loew

Two shootouts in the desert south of Phoenix may indicate the Sinaloa Drug Cartel is ordering its smugglers to ramp up violence in an effort to protect drug shipments, according to multiple law enforcement sources who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media about the incidents.

The first shootout occurred on April 7 in the desert near Arizona City, according to a statement given to CBS 5 Investigates in response to questions about the incident. The statement says Border Patrol agents reported being fired upon as they attempted to intercept a group of suspected smugglers. The agents returned fire, arrested five suspects and seized nearly 500 pounds of marijuana.

Law enforcement sources tell CBS 5 Investigates the agents involved in the firefight were members of the elite BORTAC unit, which is used in drug interdiction operations. Nobody was injured in that shootout.

One week later, Casa Grande Police pulled over a vehicle on Interstate 8 near the Vekol Valley. Inside the vehicle was a man who stated that he had been shot and stabbed in the desert.

Law enforcement sources tell CBS 5 Investigates they believe the injured man was part of a so-called "rip crew." These are bandits who attempt to steal drug shipments from smugglers. In this instance, the sources say the smugglers opened fire on the rip crew, and a fight ensued. The wounded man was transported to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment. There may have been another man injured in that incident.

The law enforcement sources who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates say it is unusual for smugglers to open fire on law enforcement officers in the desert. The DEA's 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary states, "While operating in the United States, Mexican TCOs (Transnational Criminal Organizations) actively seek to maintain low profiles and avoid violent confrontations between rival TCOs or U.S. law enforcement."

But this year, confidential informants have told law enforcement that smugglers are under new orders to protect their shipments, rather than drop the drugs and run, according to multiple law enforcement sources.

Read more:

Note: As many know, especially those who have served in the middle east, rocks have a very long, lethal history.

UPDATE: Border Patrol agent shoots at man throwing rocks
Christina Myers
5:34 PM, Apr 20, 2016

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Chief Patrol Agent with the Tucson Sector of Border Patrol gave new details Wednesday about a shooting involving an agent.

Paul Beeson said the incident happened Tuesday just after 4p.m. in a remote area near Cowlic, AZ on the Tohono O'Odham reservation.

He said a number of agents were tracking a group of suspected drug smugglers. When the agents approached the suspects, one of them took off.

One of the agents followed the fleeing suspect, according to Beeson.

"The suspect stopped, picked up some rocks and began throwing them at the agent while making verbal threats," said Beeson. That is when he said the agent shot his gun at the suspect two times.

The suspect was not hit and fled once again, but he was caught and arrested after a brief chase.

The agents also arrested two other suspects. They found more than 240 pounds of marijuana with them.

The suspect who allegedly threw rocks at the agent was found to be a Honduran national who had already been deported once. He faces pending charges of Re-entry after Deportation, Narcotics Smuggling and possible Assault charges depending on the outcome of an investigation by the FBI.

The CBP Office of Professional Responsibility is doing a separate investigation into the agent's actions.

"There's various levels of force that agents are allowed to employ depending upon the circumstances and then of course their perception of what the threat is at the time. Agents go through extensive training at the Border Patrol Academy. There is extensive training that takes place throughout their career on a quarterly basis," said Beeson.

The agent's identity is not being released as the investigation is ongoing, but Beeson said he is a 12-year veteran who is on administrative leave pending the investigation results.


FBI, Customs to investigate shooting on Arizona-Mexico border
ASSOCIATED PRESS | April 20, 2016 @ 4:30 pm

PHOENIX — An 18-year-old suspected drug smuggler wasn't injured when a U.S. Border Patrol agent fired two shots at him during an encounter Tuesday in the southern Arizona desert.

The FBI and a Customs and Border Protection internal review board are investigating the shooting that took place on Tohono O'odham Nation land about 75 miles southwest of Tucson.

Tucson Sector spokesman Matthew Eisenhauer said the encounter unfolded shortly after 4 p.m., when agents who had been tracking a trio of smugglers carrying marijuana bundles attempted to make an arrest.

One of the smugglers, an 18-year-old Honduran who has been previously deported, ran away and was chased by an agent. The suspect stopped, picked up rocks from the ground and threw them at the agent while making verbal threats, Eisenhauer said.

The Border Patrol has not named the man or the agent. The agent is a 12-year veteran who has been placed on standard administrative leave.

Eisenhauer said rocks can seriously injure or even kill agents.

"Any type of projectile can be used to incapacitate or seriously maim or injure to even the point of death," he said.

The agent fired two shots at the man but missed. The man was arrested along with two other suspected smugglers.

Agents seized 247 pounds of marijuana following the arrest.

Border Patrol data released this month shows that use of force by agents and U.S. Customs and Border officers has been on the decline, dropping by about 26 percent from fiscal years 2014 to 2015.

Civil rights groups said agents resort to using force too quickly, especially in cases involving rock-throwers.


Note: no info yet on origin of the illegal immigrants, as legal immigrants seldom come in this way. Photos at link.

Trucker caught with 42 migrants in trailer
Nogales International 15 hrs ago (0)

A group of 42 undocumented immigrants was found in a tractor-trailer.
A truck driver was arrested Monday after police found 42 undocumented immigrants hiding in the trailer he was hauling on Interstate 19.

Authorities said federal agents learned from an investigative source that undocumented immigrants were hiding in some brush north of Nogales. The Department of Homeland Security's Joint Intelligence Operations Center then coordinated with the U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety for air and ground support.

"From high above the scene, an aircrew from (Air and Marine Operations) reported seeing a group of people leaving the brush and climbing into the back of a tractor-trailer," the Joint Task Force-West said in a news release.

At approximately 9 p.m., DPS officers stopped the northbound tractor-trailer on Interstate 19 near Tubac and busted the driver and his passengers.

The driver, a U.S. citizen, and the immigrants were transferred to Border Patrol custody in Nogales.

"This collaborative law enforcement action was made possible because multiple agencies work together through the Joint Task Force-West Arizona," said Paul Beeson, JTF-W commander in Arizona. "These types of coordinated efforts leverage partner agency capabilities and jurisdictional authorities to dismantle criminal networks."


Report: Heroin overdose deaths spike in southern Arizona county
April 20, 2016 @ 7:53 pm

TUCSON, Ariz. — Nearly 100 addicts died of heroin overdoses in Pima County last year, making heroin the number one cause of death by a single drug.

Pima County's Chief Medical Examiner Gregory Hess said 379 people died of drug overdoses in 2015 – 93 of which were exclusively caused by heroin.
"We had 93 deaths attributed to heroin in 2015 and that's definitely an increase over previous years," Hess said.

Cronkite News reported last year that Pima County had an overdose rate almost twice as high as any other Arizona county, based on an analysis of public records from the 2009-2013 Arizona Hospital Discharge Data Set, gathered by the Arizona Department of Health Services' Bureau of Public Health Statistics.

The five ZIP codes that saw the most overdoses all were in metropolitan Tucson, the analysis showed.

"The number of deaths may wax and wane a little over time, but certainly heroin is the major killer that we see right now and it's dangerous," Hess said. "It's an equal opportunity drug, so to speak, it doesn't necessarily have to fit one demographic."

Overdose deaths also increased statewide the board from 2013 to 2014, according to the data from AZDHS.

In 2014, there were 494 deaths recorded from pharmaceutical opioids and benzodiazepines, a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Heroin-caused deaths jumped from 125 in 2013 to 180 in 2014, a 44 percent increase.

Recovering addict Dara Lawson of Phoenix is still witnessing the dangers of heroin 4-and-a-half years into sobriety. In a 2-month period, Lawson lost three friends to heroin overdoses.
"It's just heartbreaking because in my four-and-a-half years of sobriety, I can't even tell you how many friends I have lost," Lawson said. "Close friends, there's been four. Acquaintances, there's been over fifty."

Lawson, now a mother of two young boys, said it's not uncommon to open Facebook to see that another friend has passed away from a heroin overdose.
"It's terrifying and that fear does keep me from going back," Lawson said. "It's an epidemic and it's just taking over all the young people."

Erica Curry, spokeswoman for the Phoenix Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said heroin trafficking continues to increase in Arizona, with the presence of fentanyl, an opioid-based drug similar to heroin, being seen more often as an add-in to heroin.
"Fentanyl can be lethal to a person at 250 micrograms, which when you take a step back and consider that amount, it's equivalent to about two or three grains of table salt," Curry said. "Not a lot goes a long way."

She added, "those addicts who are getting their heroin laced with fentanyl are using what they would consider their regular dose, their normal amount that they use and because it's laced with fentanyl, it's that much more potent and they are overdosing."

Lawson started getting high with prescription pills. According to a 2014 survey by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 94 percent of respondents, who were in treatment programs, said they chose heroin over pills because it was cheaper and easier to get.

"Undoubtedly, prescription drug abuse is the number one cause of the current heroin epidemic," Curry said. "Get rid of the prescription drugs, you'll get rid of the heroin addiction."

The Drug Enforcement Agency reported 80 to 90 percent of heroin addicts start with prescription drugs and then escalate to heroin.

"People need to respect prescription pills because when they don't realize prescription pills are still a drug, that's when things get out of control and then once they're addicted, they realize that heroin is cheaper and has a stronger effect and that's when they get into that," Lawson said.

Terry Bernier, a Sahuarita mother of three boys, witnessed her oldest son transition from pills to heroin. He has been struggling with a heroin addiction for about eight years.
"Through some skateboarding accidents, someone introduced him to some pain pills and then I think his next introduction was really heroin," Bernier said. "And it just hooked him, very quickly. Over time, you find spoons and foil and then you start researching and looking."

Her son is currently trying to get permission from his probation officer to get into a non-profit program in California called the Dream Center, which provides long-term addiction recovery help for free.

Bernier said she is partnering with the program to create the Southern Arizona Dream Center in the Tucson area.

"I think the longer time they have, the better opportunity they have for their brain to heal and to learn new habits," she said. "They don't just take you through a year program, but they take you further if you need. They take you through life skills, they teach you how to do budgeting and take care of money, they teach you how to have a job skill."

Bernier's son has been in and out of recovery programs and in and out of the family's quiet, gated community home, leading Bernier to become involved in advocating for better and longer care for recovering addicts. "You learn that you can't let them stay forever because you're enabling them," Bernier said. "However, when they knock on your door at midnight and have nowhere to go it's kind of hard not to let them in."

Lawson credits her parents' tough love and strict adherence to boundaries with saving the lives of her and her brother, who also is recovering addict.
"It happens in great neighborhoods. I grew up in an awesome area, a great school, I went to church three times a week and it hit my brother and I right then and there," Lawson said. "That's what got me sober, my mom and dad, they said you have two options – you either go to rehab or you leave. And I left, for a long time."

"I finally was broken enough to go back to my parents and say 'OK, I'm going to go get help.'"

Now, each funeral of a friend and overdose of an acquaintance is an ominous reminder of her time using heroin.

"I do remember all those people who I've lost whenever I do get the urge," she said. "And I think I don't want to be that person, I don't, you know, for my parent's sake, for my kid's sake, for my sake, because I live a beautiful life."

Curry said communities and families need to be more educated on the threat of prescription drugs. The DEA often partners with schools and community groups to help raise this awareness.

"Heroin addiction is terrible, it's destructive, it's life-changing, life-altering," Curry said. "We see a progression from the prescription. We see the progression to the heroin. Now we're seeing pockets of this fentanyl-laced heroin coming up and making itself widely known."

"This is going to be a continuous problem until we curb this onset of addiction," she added. "It starts in the home, it starts in our communities and we as a community, as parents, as educators, can make the difference and we really should. We've got to do this before it's too late."


Note: closing today's edition with this fun one.

Agents arrest 2 men convicted for sex crimes against children

23 hrs ago
Sergio Galaz-Coronado

Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents recently arrested two male Mexican nationals previously convicted on charges relating to crimes against minors.

Agents first apprehended Sergio Galaz-Coronado, 38, outside of Douglas, on April 15. During a subsequent biometric-records check, agents found Galaz was arrested by the Maricopa County Sherriff's Office in 2001 for sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15. He was subsequently sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years of probation before being deported.

The following day, agents assigned to the Casa Grande Border Patrol Station arrested Esteban Aparicio-Molina, 32, outside of Cowlic, Arizona. He had served 12 years in prison for multiple charges relating to inappropriate sexual contact with a child, including sexual assault.

Both subjects, classified as aggravated felons for their prior convictions, face additional criminal charges and stiffer penalties for their illegal re-entry into the United States. They remain in Border Patrol custody pending the outcome of these proceedings.


No comments:

Post a Comment