Thursday, May 4, 2017



CBP makes another large fentanyl bust in Nogales
Nogales International May 2, 2017 Updated May 2, 2017

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a 28-year-old Mexican man last week for attempting to smuggle 23 pounds of a powerful synthetic opioid into the United States through Nogales.

CBP said its officers at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry referred the man for a secondary inspection of his Chevy SUV as he attempted to enter the country on Wednesday, April 26 through the SENTRI lane for trusted travelers.

A drug-sniffing dog alerted to the vehicle's dashboard area, and when officers searched behind the radio, they found a stash of fentanyl, a rapid-onset pain medication that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The drugs were estimated to be worth approximately $378,000.

Officers seized the fentanyl and turned the subject over to federal investigators.

It was the second significant fentanyl bust in Nogales of the month.

On April 3, a 24-year-old Mexican woman was arrested after CBP officers at the Morley pedestrian border-crossing discovered that the stroller she was pushing her infant daughter in had been packed with five pounds of fentanyl.


Note: Federal & Santa Cruz county courts

Checkpoint proves to be Rio Rican's nemesis
Nogales International May 2, 2017

For the second time, Aidan Nikolai Bracamonte of Rio Rico was convicted and sentenced for a crime uncovered at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19.

Bracamonte, 23, was sentenced April 24 by Judge Thomas Fink of Santa Cruz County Superior Court
to three years of probation for a Class 5 felony conviction
of attempted unlawful possession of marijuana for sale.
The judge also required that he complete 100 hours of community service.

Court records show that at around 11 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2016, a drug-sniffing dog at the checkpoint alerted agents to the car Bracamonte was driving. He was sent to the secondary inspection area, where agents found a glass jar containing marijuana among his belongings.

They also found 150 plastic bags and two scales, as well as marijuana hidden in the gas cap and a wallet "filled with money." He also had cash in one of his pockets.

During a pre-sentence interview, Bracamonte told a probation officer that he was on his way to a party in Tucson when he was busted at the checkpoint. He said he planned on smoking the marijuana with his friends. The money, he said, was savings that he planned to use to buy a new wardrobe while in Tucson.

Bracamonte was on federal probation at the time of his arrest in connection with another crime uncovered at the checkpoint.

According to U.S. District Court records, Bracamonte was caught at the facility on Feb. 14, 2014 with two undocumented immigrants in the trunk of his car. At first he claimed that he had seen the two men walking near his home and they had asked him for a ride to Tucson. He said he planned on getting them past the checkpoint, then letting them out to continue walking, and he did not expect any payment for the service.

However, in a subsequent plea agreement, he admitted that he knew the men were undocumented and he expected to be paid $500 to transport them to Phoenix.

Bracamonte was convicted of one count of transporting illegal aliens for profit and sentenced by U.S. Judge James A. Soto in July 2014 to three years of probation.

In March 2017, Soto modified the conditions of probation to require Bracamonte to participate in a home confinement program for 180 days. As part of the program, he must be electronically monitored and abide by a curfew.


Original story:

US has not found 'one dollar' of drug lord El Chapo's assets, Mexican AG says
Published May 03, 2017 Reuters

MEXICO CITY – U.S. authorities have not been able to find any trace of ill-gotten assets belonging to jailed drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's attorney general said on Wednesday.

Before he was captured last year and extradited to the United States in January to stand trial, Guzman was one of the world's most wanted drug traffickers and believed to have accumulated a fortune from reigning over his Sinaloa Cartel over many years.

"As of today, U.S. authorities have not found not even one dollar of El Chapo's assets," Mexican Attorney General Raul Cervantes said in an interview with top local broadcaster Televisa.
Mexico has only found minor assets belonging to Guzman, Cervantes said.
"His money hasn't been found because he didn't use the financial system," he added.

A federal indictment in the United States seeks the forfeiture of more than $14 billion of drug proceeds and illicit profits allegedly derived from the Sinaloa Cartel's activities.

Guzman, who broke out twice from prison in Mexico, was recaptured for the last time in January 2016. He was extradited to the United States to face charges there on Jan. 19, the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president.

In the same interview, Cervantes said that the relative upstart Jalisco New Generation Cartel is now Mexico's largest criminal organization, eclipsing the country's more familiar criminal syndicates like Sinaloa or the Zetas.

On Tuesday, Mexican security forces arrested Damaso Lopez, who the United States once described as Guzman's "right hand man" but had been locked in a bloody struggle for control of the Sinaloa Cartel against the sons of El Chapo.


Note: Need a job? Just remember it's AP writing this.

At country fest and rodeo, border agency seeks more agents
ASSOCIATED PRESS | May 3, 2017 @ 1:18 am

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — The beer was flowing and music was blaring in the middle of the Arizona desert when Ric Kindle approached a group of Border Patrol agents and customs officers out to recruit new hires.

This was no average job fair. This was Country Thunder, one of the nation's largest country music festivals, where U.S. Customs and Border Protection set up a booth in front of a pop-up casino and near the merchandise tent as part of an effort to recruit thousands of new agents and officers.

Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol and the office that oversees customs officers, has been hiring for several years and now may need to fill an additional 5,000 positions within the Border Patrol that President Donald Trump ordered under his plan to bolster border security. Both the Border Patrol and customs officers were at the festival.

Kindle, 24, said he'd be applying to the Border Patrol as soon as he got home at the end of the four-day festival. He said he's wanted to get into law enforcement ever since a local police officer took him on a ride-along when he was a teenager who skipped school and lacked motivation.

"I don't care what form of force it is, I just kind of want to make a difference," said Kindle, a Phoenix-area resident who works as a fast-food cook. He was volunteering for a nonprofit that raises money for families of first responders who are hurt or killed on the job.

The presence of border agents and customs officers at the country festival is part of an aggressive recruitment effort to seek out prospective employees. Customs and Border Protection has been showing up at bull-riding competitions, Big 10 and Big 12 sports tournaments, job fairs and country music fests like the one last month in Florence, southeast of Phoenix.

"We do recruiting at pretty much anywhere we have an opportunity to show up. It could be something as small as a community event at a local park," said Border Patrol spokesman Vicente Paco, who handed out brochures to festivalgoers.

The recruiting comes as the agency is having a difficult time finding enough agents.

Prospective hires need to relocate to remote locations like the small town of Ajo, near the U.S.-Mexico border, and the southern Texas city of Harlingen. They also must get through a comprehensive vetting process that involves passing a lie-detector test in which applicants are asked about things like drug use and past criminal activity.

Customs and Border Protection also has had a hard time filling positions within its Office of Field Operations, which manages ports of entries and international arrivals at airports.

The Associated Press reported in January that about two-thirds of Customs and Border Protection applicants fail the required polygraph exam, more than double the average rate of applicants at eight law enforcement agencies that provided data to the AP. Customs and Border Protection officials have since pegged the failure rate at about 75 percent.

The agency has struggled to find enough customs officers since announcing an expansion effort in 2014. It said it was allocating 170 new jobs in Arizona, most of which would be assigned in Nogales, the state's busiest area for border crossings. As of April 1, the agency has filled 72 percent of those positions in the state.

The Border Patrol, meanwhile, has slightly fewer than 20,000 agents nationwide, a vastly larger number than it had in the 1990s but still smaller than a couple of years ago. The agency has lost agents to attrition and has a hiring rate of less than 1 percent.

Trump's plan calls for bringing on 5,000 new Border Patrol positions. Congress still hasn't finalized funding for next year, and it's unclear whether the agency will get more money for hiring. Agent salaries start at about $40,000 annually.

In April, then-Border Patrol Chief Ron Vitiello told The Associated Press the agency is working to improve the hiring process. It needs congressional approval to waive the polygraph in some instances.

The agency also will face competition from within the Homeland Security Department as Immigration and Customs Enforcement looks to hire about 10,000 agents. ICE says it's not undertaking any large-scale recruitment efforts at the moment.

"We just have to be a little bit faster than them," said Vitiello, who was promoted to a new job in the agency.

Not everyone agrees that the agency should expand and do so rapidly.

The nonpartisan American Immigration Council released a report in April questioning the expansion and noting that problems abounded when the Border Patrol grew from a little over 4,000 agents in 1994 to nearly 20,000 in 2016.

"The last time the Border Patrol received a large infusion of money to hire thousands of new agents, cases of corruption and misconduct spiked in the agency. New hires were not sufficiently vetted, novice agents were not adequately supervised, and agents who abused their authority acted with impunity," report author Josiah Heyman wrote.

To attract new agents, Border Patrol recruiters fan out to places like the annual Country Thunder event, which draws 30,000 people a day.

Agents and officers touted the perks of joining as concertgoers in boots and cowboy hats stopped by. Most of the people who spoke with the agents were middle-aged and thanked them for the work they do, shaking their hands and some asking to take a photo with them.

Others inquired about the job.

Colten Demers, 22, said he's wanted to get into law enforcement for as long as he can remember. The son of a former police officer, Demers works two jobs as a security officer in Scottsdale, although he's applied to work at several police forces.

Demers would rather work in the city but said he wouldn't rule out joining the Border Patrol and that he likely will apply. "We do need guys on the border," he said.


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