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Border Patrol takes another $1 million of illicit drugs off the streets

Border Patrol agents at the Interstate 8 checkpoint east of San Diego hauled in more than $1 million in cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and heroin in separate incidents over the weekend.

Both narcotics busts yielded an estimated street value of $1,085,800.

The first encounter involved a 43-year-old male United States citizen driving a Volvo. The man’s nervous demeanor prompted agents to direct the vehicle to the secondary inspection area.

“A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in a positive alert to the driver’s side door. Agents searched the vehicle and discovered two non-factory compartments beneath the driver and front passenger seats,” said Scott Simon, Border Patrol San Diego Sector Information and Communication Division. “The hidden compartments contained 22 bundles of crystal methamphetamine that weighed 34 pounds and had an estimated street value of $510,000. Agents also discovered two bundles of heroin that weighed 5.2 pounds and were worth an estimated $67,600.”

The second drug bust involved a 46-year-old male Mexican national driving a Dodge Ram. Again, agents sent the vehicle to the secondary inspection area and requested the Border Patrol K-9 team to inspect the truck for illegal drugs. The K-9’s alerted Border Patrol agents to a positive drug scent behind the truck’s front bumper and detained the driver.

“Agents searched the truck and discovered 22 packages of cocaine in the frame rails with a total weight of 50.82 pounds and an estimated street value of $508,200,” according to Simon.

The suspected drug smugglers and all the narcotics were seized and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation. Border Patrol impounded both vehicles.

Border Patrol encourages anyone to report suspicious activity to the San Diego Border Patrol Sector at (619) 498-9900.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak
© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Border Patrol snags cocaine and meth worth $1 million

Border Patrol agents detained two suspected drug smugglers in separate stops that netted more than 100 pounds of cocaine and crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $1.13 million.

The first stop involved a 30-year-old female Mexican national sitting in the driver’s seat of a Jeep Cherokee that was parked at a rest area located just north of Oceanside (The rest stop also shares a fence line with Camp Pendleton Marine Base on Interstate 5).

After questioning the woman, Border Patrol agents completed a consensual cursory search by a K-9 team. The Border Patrol K-9 dogs alerted agents to a positive scent in the Jeep. Following a brief search of the engine compartment, agents discovered 16 bundles of crystal meth concealed in the intake manifold. The drugs weighed nearly 11 pounds valued about $215,000.

Less than an hour later Border Patrol agents stopped a 27-year-old U.S. citizen driving to California from Arizona. The female arrived at the checkpoint east of San Diego where agents directed the driver to the secondary inspection area. Again the Border Patrol K-9 team alerted agents to drugs hidden underneath the car’s floorboards.

The U.S. Border Patrol seized both vehicles used in the narcotic smuggling incidents.Once the two aftermarket compartments were discovered, Border Patrol removed 30 bundles of cocaine. “The cocaine weighed 91.5 pounds with an estimated street value of $915,400. The suspected smugglers and narcotics in both incidents were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation,” according to a CBP statement.

Border Patrol agents encourage anyone who observes suspicious activity in the San Diego Sector to call (619) 498-9900.

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

Multiple law enforcement agencies apprehend heroin smuggler who fled scene

Working with law enforcement officers from Riverside County, Murrieta Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol, Border Patrol agents apprehended a suspected Heroin drug smuggler who fled a BP checkpoint on Interstate 15 yesterday.

“At approximately 10:30 a.m., agents and Murrieta Police officers on patrol attempted to stop a red 2005 Dodge Neon just south of the I-15 checkpoint,” Border Patrol agent Scott Simon said. “The driver of the vehicle, a 28-year-old male United States citizen, failed to yield and threw two bundles of heroin out of his driver’s side window. Next, the suspected smuggler drove onto the center median and sped through the checkpoint.”

Border Patrol quickly notified local law enforcement for assistance and the Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies dispatched air assets to locate the suspect who fled into Temecula.

“Sheriff’s deputies in the air observed the suspect hiding in some brush near the off ramp and directed personnel on the ground to his location,” according to Simon.

Once authorities located and arrested the suspect, officers subsequently turned the man over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation.

“The suspected smuggler faces federal charges for narcotics smuggling and high speed flight from a checkpoint,” Border Patrol agents said. “The two heroin bundles weighed a total of nearly two pounds and had an estimated street value of $25,740.”

Over the past three days, Border Patrol agents kept busy at San Diego Interstate checkpoints, seizing more than $500,000 worth of cocaine and crystal meth.

“Yesterday, agents assigned to the I-5 checkpoint near San Clemente arrested a 41-year-old male Mexican national after he attempted to smuggle 1.036 pounds of methamphetamine in a silver 2002 Dodge Durango,” Simon explained. It was a Border Patrol K-9 team that alerted agents to a briefcase located on the rear seat of the vehicle. After agents searched the vehicle, they discovered a softball-sized bundle of methamphetamine located in the briefcase with a street value of $20,720.

To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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Nervous driver alerts Border Patrol and nets $1 Million in crystal- meth

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to an interior checkpoint on highway 15 prevented a large illegal drug smuggling attempt that resulted in the seizure of 56 pounds of methamphetamine.

The 56-year-old male Mexican national arrived at the Temecula checkpoint driving a Mercury Cougar when agents observed the man acting suspiciously. Border Patrol noted the nervous driver and directed him to a secondary inspection area.

“A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in a positive alert to the vehicle’s interior,” according to Scott Simon, Information and communications agent in the San Diego Sector. “Agents searched the vehicle and discovered 24 bundles of methamphetamine concealed inside of the natural voids within the rear quarter panels behind both the driver’s and passenger’s seats.”

Border Patrol said the crystal meth weighed 56 pounds and had an estimated street value of $1,120,000. The suspected drug smuggler and methamphetamine were taken into custody and subsequently handed over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation and possible felony charges. Border Patrol impounded the blue Mercury Cougar

Border Patrol encourages residents “to say something if they see something” by contacting the San Diego agency at (619) 498-9900.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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Plausible deniability will save AG Holder’s job over Fast & Furious scandal

The controversial “gunwalking” program Fast and Furious that lead to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in the Arizona desert in December of 2010 was once again subject of a House Oversight Hearing.

After Congressional testimony, whistle-blower statements and investigative reporting by dedicated journalists, an avalanche of facts have been placed front-and-center. The ill-fated Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Project Gunrunner investigation “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking program made the front page of most newspapers and claimed the life of Agent Terry. However, today’s four-hour hearing revealed little new information other than the administration’s reluctance to provide 93,000 requested documents.

Accountability, culpability, and cover-up are words used repeatedly at today’s hearing to describe this disastrous program that will forever be remembered as a black mark in American history.

It’s been nearly 14 months since the former decorated Iraq war veteran Marine-turned -Border Patrol agent lost his life at the hands of drug smuggler/rip crews. Terry was killed by a firearm that was purchased by a “straw buyer” with the approval of ATF supervisors.

Those are the facts.

Agent Terry’s family, who will never hear Brian’s side of the story have sought the truth from ATF/DOJ for the last 14 months, would like to know- who knew what and when. With the government’s code of silence, Terry’s family has no other recourse than to obtain the truth through a $25 million lawsuit recently filed against the government.

During the Fast and Furious hearings, documents have been requested from the Department of Justice, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder, some have been released, but others fail to see the light of day. For those accustomed to DC politics, it is business as usual.

Despite Congressional requests made by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to the Department of Justice and Eric Holder, for all agency documents relating to Fast and Furious hearings, few documents have seen the light of day. For those accustomed to DC politics, it is business as usual.

During the Fast and Furious investigation, members of Congress have unleashed a circus-like hearing that makes for compelling political theater, but the American people have seen this movie before and it always ends the same- plausible deniability.

It’s been the contention of law enforcement agencies across the country that the results of Fast and Furious were predictable; it was destined to claim the life of an officer. That’s what happens when law enforcement lets a gun “walk”- into the hands of ruthless cartels- they have the propensity to kill people.

Regrettably, Operation Fast and Furious successfully did exactly what it was designed to do- make headlines. ATF agents have admitted time and time again that supervisors in the Phoenix office wanted to bring down the “bad guys” and make “headlines.” They did.

According to an email exchanged released by the House Committee, the Department of Justice in DC and Arizona officials involved in Fast and Furious expressed concern about the media. How are we going “to mitigate the negative press coverage?” And “how are we going to fix the problem” and “guns were being walked to Mexico” were among the main concerns of the officials in charge.

After interviewing, reading and reviewing all the information in the public arena, as well as some documents not released, the conclusion is quite straightforward- it was a terrible ATF operation, according to rank-and-file ATF agents.

It’s also true that this investigation started under the Bush Administration with “The Southwest Border Initiative” and from that sprung “Operation Wide Receiver” which allowed some guns to walk south of the border only to be suspended. But it’s also true that President Obama entered into office in January 2009 and his Administration began the process of suspending many Bush-era programs. Unfortunately, Fast and Furious would not be one of those programs.

In fact, under the Obama/Holder Administration, Operation Fast and Furious progressed and grew in scope. At least seven wiretap applications were requested from the Washington DC Justice Department. These applications exceeded 50-pages each and involved the international border with Mexico. Sources inside Justice say ultimately a committee would need to approve the applications. The aforementioned Washington DC committee meets to ensure ongoing investigations from other departments like the FBI, CIA, DEA and ATF do not interfere with each other or hinder ongoing operations.

Again, Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) reaffirmed this point at today’s hearing and asked AG Holder if Fast and Furious would need approval from Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDEF); the answer was “yes.”

The logical conclusion to this revelation means AG Holder should have known about Fast and Furious. The fact this operation detailed ATF overseeing the sales of weapons to straw buyers, then transported them to the Mexican border with the intention of arresting drug cartel members once the transaction lifecycle was completed should have bubbled to the desk of the nation’s top law enforcement officer. This assumption did not slip by several Republican lawmakers that sit on the Oversight Committee.

But again, Holder says “no” and he has plausible deniability on his side. The evidence produced thus far cannot place Holder in a room, physically receiving and reading a memo or discussing Operation Fast and Furious on the record. All the communication regarding this case went through a bureaucratic layer meant to protect those at the top. The oversight of Fast and Furious is no different from other, plausible denial programs.

In the end, all the political gamesmanship about who knew what and when will result in a stalemate. Holder will keep his job, even if he is weakened as a leader of Justice.

While logic may be a key factor in the daily life of mortals, plausible deniability rules the day at the Department of Justice. In fact, Holder reminded the committee today that he appointed a Special Prosecutor and Inspector General and once that happened he was out of the so-called loop. Holder says he effectively removed himself from performing a “top-to-bottom investigation.”

Nevertheless, the American people have “lost faith in the system,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) at the conclusion of the hearing. He also referred to words the Attorney General said once he became the nation’s top law enforcer; “It’s about trust…transparency and the rule of law for our administration.”

Yet the self-described most transparent administration in U.S. history finds itself hiding behind plausible deniability time and time again.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Sophisticated San Diego border tunnel discovered

A sophisticated cross-border tunnel was located Tuesday that connected Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego. Investigators explained the tunnel netted more than 32 tons of marijuana and six arrests.

The 612-yard elaborate passageway consisted of ventilation, electric rail-like cars, electricity, reinforced walls and wooden floors.

The tunnel’s Tijuana entrance was accessed by a hydraulically-controlled steel door and an elevator located beneath the storehouse floor.

The discovery of the drug smuggling tunnel came after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) followed a tractor trailer loaded with drugs to Los Angeles. CBP agents alerted San Diego authorities once the driver and three other Hispanic individuals unloaded the contents into a nondescript warehouse.

Once U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) moved in, they took custody and seized approximately 11 tons of marijuana packed inside the truck’s trailer. Federal agents said their actions resulted in the interdiction of more than 32 tons of marijuana with an estimated street value of nearly $65 million.
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The tunnel task force said they were confident the passageway was recently open.

“From the conditions inside the passageway and our ongoing investigation, we’re confident we’ve been able to shut this operation down before the perpetrators were able to use it for smuggling narcotics,” said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in San Diego. “It’s clear though, from the level of sophistication involved, that the criminal organization responsible for constructing this tunnel had very ambitious plans.”

Staying one-step ahead of the drug-cartels tunneling tactics is the result of the multi-agency task force that focuses solely on drug and human smuggling along the southwest border.

“This is yet again an example of what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies join forces to address a common threat,” said San Diego Chief Patrol Agent Paul A. Beeson. “It clearly demonstrates that the hard work of the men and women on this interagency taskforce can and will make a significant impact on the security of our nation.”

“The Tunnel Task Force, working together with the Government of Mexico, is putting a stranglehold on the cartels’ ability to smuggle drugs into the United States,” said William R. Sherman, acting special agent in charge of the DEA in San Diego. “Seizing close to 50 tons of marijuana in one month denies the cartels the financial means to continue their operations.”

The San Diego Tunnel Task Force consists of representatives from ICE HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Obama pardons several drug-related criminals

While Border Patrol agents put their lives on the line every day to stop drug smuggling along the nation’s southern border, President Obama announced yesterday he is pardoning several drug-related convicted felons.

The pardons draw attention to the recent conviction of Border Patrol Agent Jesus “Chito” Diaz. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison for allegedly lifting the handcuffs of a known-drug dealer in Texas.

The conviction drew the attention of numerous Congressmen who sent a letter to president Obama asking for the release of Agent Diaz. So far there has been no response from the White House or the Department of Justice who headed the prosecution of the Border Patrol agent.

The following is a list of the Presidential pardons;

PARDONS:

• Lesley Claywood Berry Jr. – Loretto, Ky.
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Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846.
Sentence: April 29, 1988; District of Minnesota; three years in prison.

• Dennis George Bulin – Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Sentence: March 10, 1987; Middle District of Alabama; five years of probation and $20,000 fine.

• Ricky Dale Collett – Annville, Ky.

Offense: Aiding and abetting in the manufacture of 61 marijuana plants, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Sentence: March 7, 2002; Eastern District of Kentucky; one year of probation conditioned on 60 days of home detention.

• Martin Kaprelian – Park Ridge, Ill.

Offense: Conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 371; transporting stolen property in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 2314; concealing stolen property that was transported in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 2315.
Sentence: Feb. 1, 1984; Northern District of Illinois; nine years in prison, five years of probation.

• Thomas Paul Ledford – Jonesborough, Tenn.

Offense: Conducting and directing an illegal gambling business, 18 U.S.C. § 1955.
Sentence: June 12, 1995; Eastern District of Tennessee; one year of probation conditioned on performance of 100 hours of community service.

COMMUTATION:

• Eugenia Marie Jennings – Alton, Ill.

Offense: Distribution of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
Sentence: Feb. 23, 2001; Southern District of Illinois; 262 months in prison, eight years of supervised release, $1,750 fine.
Terms of commutation: Prison sentence to expire on Dec. 21, 2011, leaving intact and in effect the eight-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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San Diego Rep. Hunter sends Obama a letter on jailed Border Patrol agent

GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) sent a letter to President Obama, requesting a detailed description of the Department of Justice’s prosecution of Border Patrol Agent Jesus “Chito” Diaz for essentially lifting the handcuffs of a 15-year-old known drug smuggler.

The letter had 36 other Members of Congress signatures looking for answers regarding the harsh two-year federal prison sentence.

It was reported today that the Mexican government requested Agent Diaz’s be prosecuted despite the fact Agent Diaz was previously cleared of any wrongdoing by department investigators.

“In two separate letters, I’ve asked the Attorney General to provide information and take action on what has proven to be a serious miscarriage of justice,” said Rep. Hunter. “The Attorney General has been silent so far, perhaps because he’s busy making excuses on why he should not be held accountable for Operation Fast & Furious.”
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Meanwhile, Agent Diaz’ wife, Diana, must now pay $7,000 in court fines.

Mrs. Diaz is working with Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council (LEOAC), to get her husband, “Chito,” cleared of all charges. Andy Ramirez, LEOAC’s director said; “We will continue to lead this fight and stand by Chito, Diana, and their children until his name is cleared. Having worked on as many cases as we have, this one is, without question, the most atrocious yet. It is clear that our government gave Mexico City the scalp of yet another agent.”

This is a position echoed by Congressman Hunter.

“This prosecution cannot be allowed to stand. Someone—whether the Attorney General or the President—needs to provide answers on why a two-year prison term is justified and what motivated the U.S. Attorney’s Office in West Texas, the same office that prosecuted Ramos and Compean, to go after Agent Diaz.”

Agent Diaz remains behind bars and will miss Christmas with his wife and six children if Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama do not take up the case.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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Sixth largest cross border drug tunnel discovered in San Diego

A tunnel found in San Diego was more than four football fields long, 20-feet deep and fully ventilated. The drug-smuggling corridor entrances were located in two warehouses that straddled the U.S./Mexico border.

A multi-agency border tunnel task force discovered the sophisticated passageway yesterday, number 75 in the last four years, when surveillance of the warehouse drew suspicious concerns from law enforcement. Once officials executed a federal search warrant, authorities discovered a 20-foot hole in the warehouse and recovered approximately 6 1/2 additional tons of marijuana. U.S. agents then alerted Mexican officials that the tunnel led to another warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico where they recovered approximately six tons of cannabis.

The tunnel, measuring approximately four feet by three feet, contained structural supports, electricity as well as ventilation. Authorities said evidence inside the tunnel suggested the passageway was only recently completed.

A suspicious cargo truck leaving the border region warehouse prompted California Highway Patrol to pull over the vehicle where they found three tons of marijuana in the trailer. Officers apprehended the driver, Cesar Beltran-Zamoran, and passenger, Ruben Gomez-Hernandez who face federal narcotics smuggling charges, according to officials. Gomez told authorities he would receive $2,000 to smuggle the marijuana into the U.S.
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“The discovery of this tunnel is a tribute not only to the effectiveness of our joint investigative efforts, but also to the significant benefits we’re gaining by using new technology to target this kind of smuggling activity,” said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “The drug cartels mistakenly believe they can elude detection by taking their contraband underground, but, again and again, we’ve been able to find these tunnels and shut them down.”

The San Diego tunnel represents the third such passageway detected this year and reveals U.S. officials continue to fight drug smuggling along the southern border.

“The fact that this is the third sophisticated cross border tunnel found within a year’s time demonstrates the cartels will stop at nothing to smuggle their drugs into the United States,” said William R. Sherman, acting special agent in charge for the DEA in San Diego. “The seizure of marijuana coupled with the loss of yet another tunnel will deal a heavy blow to those responsible for constructing this tunnel.”

The tunnel is the sixth largest drug smuggling passageway discovered in San Diego since 2006.

The San Diego Tunnel Task Force includes representatives from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

The multi-agency group uses a variety of techniques to detect cross-border tunnels, from state-of-the-art electronic surveillance to old school detective work. The group also relies on tips from the public to protect the border region from criminal activity.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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Man toting fake gun shot by CBP agents in San Diego

The nation’s busiest international port of entry in San Diego was shut down last night after a pedestrian unexpectedly waved a fake gun prompting Custom Border Protection (CBP) agents to shoot the man as he fled into the U.S.

The shooting incident happened at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, at the pedestrian crossing area, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency spokeswoman Jackie Wasiluk said.

Wasiluk told reporters that the agency temporarily suspended processing of all northbound pedestrian travelers. Authorities continued to investigate the incident, but have not released the name or the nationality of the man who was shot.

CBP agents did not explain what led to the shooting of the man, but those at the scene described the weapon a starter-type gun (used in track events).

The San Diego Police Department released a statement regarding the event. The unnamed man “approached a pedestrian booth and attempted to walk through without being fully screened” by CBP border agents.
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The man was taken to a nearby hospital and is expected to survive.

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© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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