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CBP Officers Nab Fleeing Homicide Suspect Another Arrested for Attempting to Smuggle Heroin

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

 
(Tuesday, April 19, 2011) contacts for this news release

San Luis, Ariz. – Over the weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers apprehended a homicide suspect who was attempting to flee the U.S. to avoid prosecution. They also arrested a man for attempting to smuggle heroin into the country by hiding the narcotics inside his shoes.

On April 16, CBP officers who were conducting outbound operations at the San Luis port selected a man walking towards Mexico for further inspection. Subsequently, officers discovered the man did not possess immigration documents authorizing him to live or work in the U.S. A records check revealed the man was wanted in connection with a homicide that occurred in the Phoenix area just hours earlier. The man was taken into custody and turned over to the Phoenix Police Department.

“The sharing of information between law enforcement agencies is critical,” said Port Director William K. Brooks. “I am extremely proud of how our CBP officers use this information to apprehend a dangerous criminal so he can face justice.”

On that same day, CBP officers at the San Luis port were screening travelers entering the country through the pedestrian lanes when they encountered a 27-year-old Mexican citizen. During the primary interview, officers observed the man’s nervous behavior and referred him for a secondary inspection. Subsequently, CBP officers found each of the man’s shoes contained one package of heroin. The seized narcotics weighed more than two pounds with an estimated value of $32,000. The man was taken into custody and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

2 Mexican men sentenced to prison for attempting to export munitions

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

MCALLEN, Texas – Two illegal aliens from Mexico were sentenced on Thursday to federal prison for their roles in attempting to export munitions from the United States without a license, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Sergio Perez-Contreas, 72, was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment, while Jose Jesus Miramontes-Duarte, 59, received a 30-month sentence by Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa during a hearing held on Thursday. Both defendants were convicted of attempting to export munitions without a license in June 2010 after pleading guilty to the felony offense.

According to court documents, the convictions and sentences stem from an investigation by ICE HSI agents. On March 5, 2009, they observed Perez-Contreras leaving the business of a local federal firearms licensee (FFL) with several packages. He then entered a taxi, and ultimately arrived at a warehouse in south McAllen. Once he arrived at the warehouse, Perez-Contreras met with Miramontes-Duarte and transferred the packages from the taxi to the cab of a tractor trailer driven by Miramontes-Duarte. Perez-Contreras then left in the taxi and ultimately arrived at the Hidalgo, Texas, Port of Entry.

At the port of entry, Perez-Contreras was stopped by ICE HSI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents as he attempted to depart the United States. In his possession, Perez-Contreras had a receipt for the purchase of 5,000 small pistol primers, 1,400 large pistol primers, 1,100 assorted calibers of rifle bullets, 19 pounds of smokeless power, and two rifle barrel blanks from the FFL where he had been seen earlier in the day. With these munitions, about 7500 rounds of pistol and rifle ammunition could be manufactured.

Meanwhile, Miramontes-Duarte left the warehouse area and was seen driving to another location where he rearranged the firearms parts and ammunition components in the cab of his truck. When Miramontes-Duarte attempted to depart the United States through the Pharr, Texas, Port of Entry, he was also stopped by ICE HSI agents and CBP officers. The ammunition components for which his co-defendant had the receipt were discovered in the cab of his truck. Further investigation revealed that Perez-Contreras had illegally exported munitions 12 other times.

Both Perez-Contreras and Miramontes-Duarte have been in federal custody without bond since their arrest on March 5, 2009. They will remain in custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility where they will serve out their sentences.

Perez-Contreras and Miramontes-Duarte are subject to deportation after they complete their prison sentences. The court has further ordered each man to serve a two-year-term of supervised release. These conditions will be enforceable if either man returns to the United States, even illegally. If they fail to abide by any condition, an additional prison sentence may be added.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Schammel, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

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Illegal Alien Convicted of Murder of BP Agent

April 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Jesus Navarro Montes, a Mexican national from Mexicali, was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar. On January 19, 2008, Navarro was driving a Hummer transporting drugs into the United States from Mexico on I-8 west of Yuma, Arizona. Border Patrol was following him and another suspect driving a Ford truck. Navarro turned around when he realized he was being followed.

Aguilar, 32-years-old and a 6 year veteran of the Border Patrol stationed in the Yuma Sector, was setting up spike strips near the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area when Navarro spotted him and intentionally ran him over and then fled to Mexico.


Agent Luis Aguilar

Navarro was captured in Mexico and extradited to the United States to stand trial. Navarro was convicted of narcotics violations in addition to the murder charge. A federal jury returned the verdict in less than two hours.

Aguilar is survived by a wife, two children and two siblings.

Fox

“Our office is gratified by the jury’s verdict in this case and appreciates the service of each juror,” said United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy in a Department of Justice press release. “The entire prosecution team’s efforts in securing defendant Navarro-Montes’ presence in the United States and the presentation of the case has been nothing short of outstanding.”

Navarro faces maximum sentences of life in prison for murder and 40 years in prison on the drug charge. U.S. District Judge Michael Anello scheduled sentencing for 9 a.m. on June 27, 2011.

Cartels are killing children now in Mexico!

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

SAN LUIS POTOSI, Mexico — On a sunny afternoon last week, when the streets of this mountain mining city were filled with schoolchildren and parents hurrying home from work, gunmen entered a tiny apartment and started firing methodically.

The assassins killed everyone: the family matriarch and her adult son; her daughter and son-in-law, and finally, her 22-month-old granddaughter.

The child was not killed by mistake. Preliminary forensics indicate that the gunmen, unchallenged, pointed a pistol at Scarlett Ramirez and fired.

In Mexico’s brutal drug war, children are increasingly victims, innocents caught in the crossfire, shot dead alongside their parents — and intentionally targeted.

According to U.S. and Mexican experts, competing criminal groups appear to be killing children to terrorize the population or prove to rivals that their savagery is boundless, as they fight over local drug markets and billion-dollar trafficking routes to voracious consumers in the United States.

“It worries us very much, this growth in the attacks on little children. They use them as a vehicle to send a message,” said Juan Martin Perez, director of the Child Rights Network in Mexico. “Decapitations and hanging bodies from bridges send a message. Killing children is an extension of this trend.”

The children’s rights group estimates that 994 people younger than 18 were killed in drug-related violence between late 2006 and late 2010, based on media accounts, which are incomplete because newspapers are often too intimidated to report drug-related crimes.

Few of the crimes are solved. “What worries us is the impunity in all of these cases,” Perez said. “If there is impunity, this use of children to send messages will grow.”

Government figures include all homicides of people younger than 17, capturing victims whose murders might not have been related to drugs or organized crime. In 2009, the last year for which there is data, 1,180 children were killed, half in shootings.

Recent, sensational killings of children — shot in a car seat, dumped in a field with a bullet in the head, killed as their grandmothers cradled them — have shocked Mexicans and shaken their faith that family is sacred, even to the criminal gangs.

“Before, they went after their enemy. Now, they go after every member of the family, indiscriminately,” said Martin Garcia Aviles, a federal congressman from the Party of the Democratic Revolution from the state of Michoacan.

A Chihuahua state police commander was attacked as she carried her 5-year-old daughter to school two weeks ago. Both died of multiple gunshot wounds.

In February, assassins went hunting for a Ciudad Juarez man, but the intended target wasn’t home, so they killed his three daughters instead, ages 12, 14 and 15.

In March, a young woman was bound and gagged, shot and left in a car in Acapulco. Her 4-year-old daughter lay slumped beside her, killed with a single bullet to her chest. She was the fifth child killed in drug violence in the resort city in one bloody week.

“They kill children on purpose,” said Marcela Turati, author of “Crossfire,” a new book on the killings of civilians in Mexico’s drug war. “In Juarez, they told a 7-year-old boy to run, and shot his father. Then they shot the little boy.”

Once off-limits

Historians of the Mexican drug trafficking culture say that until recently children were considered off-limits in the rough code honored by crime bosses, who once upon a time liked to portray themselves as Robin Hoods dealing dope to gringos and donating alms to the poor.

“The rules no longer apply — rather, there are no rules,” said Bruce Bagley, an expert in the drug trade at the University of Miami. When the monolithic Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled Mexico, until 2000, Bagley said excess violence was tamped down by the state, which controlled the drug bosses with selective coercion and complicity.

Now no such “pacts” exist, Bagley said.

U.S. and Mexican officials say the grotesque violence is a symptom the cartels have been wounded by police and soldiers. “It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs,” said Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The cartels “are like caged animals, attacking one another,” she added.

Earlier this month, the award-winning poet and commentator Javier Sicilia rallied at the main plaza in Cuernavaca and appealed directly to the drug lords “to return to your codes, where civilians are not touched, where civilians are sacred, where children are sacred.”

Sicilia’s 24-year-old son was found dead in March. His body and four others were stuffed into a compact car, their faces, wrists and ankles wrapped in tape, victims of suffocation. Next to the corpses was a message that read: “This happened to you for making anonymous calls to the military” and was signed “the Gulf Cartel.”

Young recruits

Children as young as 10 have been employed by crime gangs to watch over street corners or sell drugs, and in some cases to kill. In December, Mexican authorities arrested a 14-year-old boy who allegedly confessed that he worked as an assassin for $250 a week.

Edgar Jimenez Lugo told reporters that a drug trafficking gang kidnapped him when he was 11. “I participated in four executions. I was drugged. They said they would kill me,” he said.

Here in San Luis Potosi, violence between the La Familia cartel and ruthless Zetas group has roiled the once-quiet streets. People familiar with the latest murder of a child said the killers came looking for a rival. They didn’t find him — but they found his family.

“What malice, to kill the little girl,” said a neighbor whose children had played with Scarlett. He shook his head. “It’s incredible.”

Neighbors said the family worked hard. The little girl’s grandmother took in laundry. Her parents flipped hamburgers nearby.

Experts worry about the public health consequences of such violence. Schoolchildren in Michoacan were asked to create art for a contest commemorating the Mexican bicentennial, depicting scenes from everyday life in “the Mexico I live in.”

In late March, educators published a book of children’s drawings, which included a drug tough throwing a grenade at a federal policeman and a man being shot in the stomach with an automatic weapon.

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