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Posts tagged ‘Mexican Drug War’

Mexico Captures Third Man Linked to ‘Fast and Furious’ Slaying.

MEXICO CITY  — Mexico has arrested a third man wanted over the 2010 murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death drew attention to a botched operation to track guns smuggled to Mexico that embarrassed the U.S. government.

Mexican police in the northwestern state of Sinaloa said they had captured Ivan Soto Barraza, suspected of participating in the murder of U.S. agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout in the Arizona borderlands in December 2010.

The killing of Terry was linked to a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sting operation dubbed “Fast and Furious,” which allowed weapons to slip across the border to Mexico.

Mexican Interpol agents working with federal and state police captured Soto, 30, near the town of El Fuerte late on Wednesday and took him to a prison in Hermosillo, Sonora, on Thursday where he awaits extradition, a police spokesman said.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation also took part in the operation to track down Soto, the spokesman added.

A number of guns bought in the Fast and Furious scheme were recovered from crime scenes in Mexico. Two tracked by the ATF were also retrieved from a remote spot in southern Arizona where Terry was killed in a shoot-out with suspected bandits.

It was unclear if the weapons were used in his murder.

Terry’s slaying set off a political firestorm when it brought to light the ATF sting in which about 2,000 weapons were sold to buyers believed to be straw purchasers for Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.

Congressional Republicans slammed the government for the program, and called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign. The program also strained ties between Mexico and Washington.

In December, Terry’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against federal officials over his death.

The operation had been envisioned as a way to track guns from buyers to senior Mexican drug cartel members.

Robert Heyer, Brian Terry’s cousin, issued a statement on behalf of the Terry family in response to the arrest.

“Brian’s family is pleased to hear of another arrest and we remain hopeful that two additional fugitives believed to be in Mexico will be arrested. Questions remain unanswered about the death of Brian, including details on the failed gun trafficking investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious,” he said.

Five Mexican men have been charged over Terry’s killing, and following the arrest, only two now remain at large.

Manuel Osorio Arellanes, one of the men in custody, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the case in October in a deal with prosecutors that spared him the possible death penalty.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

More ‘Fast and Furious’ Guns Turn Up in Mexico.

Three more weapons from the failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation have turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, while an estimated 1,400 more sold in hopes of catching drug cartel leaders are still either on the streets or unaccounted for.

According to CBS News, three Romanian WASR-10 automatic rifles were found at three different crime scenes. Fast and Furious suspect Uriel Patino, who was arrested last January, bought two of them in 2010, and Sean Steward, convicted on gun-related charges in 2012, bought the third.

According to Justice Department documents, the rifles were traced back to Lone Wolf gun shop in Glendale, Ariz., one of the many dealers the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had encouraged to sell weapons to questionable buyers hoping they would be resold to Mexican drug cartels and lead to the capture of major leaders.

During the course of the operation, which ran from 2009-2010, illegal buyers bought up the weapons and took them into Mexico. According to federal prosecutors, Patino purchased approximately 720 of them from various Arizona stores, including 72 AK-47 assault rifles, in one 12-day stretch in March 2010.

Many of the guns have since been recovered at crime scenes both in Mexico and the United States. However, an estimated 1,400 of them are still unaccounted for, CBS reports.

The Justice Department still refuses to provide a full account of the weapons to Congress, even after the House voted last year to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to hand over requested information.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Former Border Patrol Officers: US Politicians Protecting Mexican Drug Cartels.

Several former Border Patrol Officers warned in an open letter that some American politicians are protecting the activities of Mexican drug cartels operating in the U.S.

“We must never lose sight of the fact that the United States is the market place for the bulk of transnational criminal businesses engaged in human trafficking and the smuggling, distribution and sale of illegal drugs,” the former officers wrote, according to “Organized crime on this scale we are speaking about cannot exist without political protection.”

The letter was signed by Gene Wood, who once ran the agency’s San Diego station; William Glenn, a retired southwest region Chief Intelligence Agent; and Claude Guyant, who held various leadership positions throughout the agency, according to the website.

“Most heroin, cocaine, meth, and marijuana marketed in the United States is produced outside of our country, and then smuggled into the United States,” the letter states. “The placement of trusted foreign employees inside the United States is imperative to insure success in continuing to supply the demand, and returning the profits to the foreign organization.”

The former officers, writing on behalf of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, said that members of “these vicious transnational crime syndicates” are well established in more than 2,000 American cities and their numbers are increasing as networks expand and demands accelerate.

“These transnational criminals present a real and present danger to all Americans, and they live among us,” according to the letter.

The former officers insist that sanctuary cities discourage “even the most basic law enforcement initiatives” within their jurisdictions.

Congress must abandon their focus on rewarding illegal behavior for millions of persons by the grant of amnesty in favor of protecting American citizens who suffer daily at the hands of these seasoned criminals,” they wrote. “To do otherwise makes a mockery of our laws, and encourages countless millions more from around the globe to do the same. Transnational organized crime nationwide has flourished under these conditions.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Paul Scicchitano

Ex-U.S. agent who helped cartels gets 30 months in prison.

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) – A former U.S. federal immigration agent was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Friday for accessing police databases and passing on sensitive information to family members with ties to Mexican drug cartels.

              Jovana Deas was accused of illegally obtaining and disseminating classified government documents while working as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent in Nogales, Ariz., a city on the border with Mexico. She also was charged with obstruction and lying to investigators.

              In February, she pled guilty to seven felonies and 14 misdemeanors in the case.

              “I ask my family to forgive me. I’m sorry for what I did. It was a horrible mistake. I feel like I betrayed my country and my agency,” a sobbing Deas told a federal court in Tucson before U.S. District Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson handed down her sentence.

              “I’m asking for your mercy your honor, so I can go back to my family.”

              Prosecutors said Deas, who resigned from ICE last year, passed information pulled from restricted crime and immigration databases to her former brother-in-law, Miguel Angel Mendoza Estrada, a Mexican cartel associate with ties to drug traffickers in Brazil.

              Some of the information – concerning the prior criminal history and immigration status of a convicted Mexican national – was later discovered on Mendoza Estrada’s laptop by Brazilian police, according to court documents.

              U.S. Attorney James Lacey unsuccessfully pushed for a 10-year prison term, arguing that Deas’ crimes made her a “mini-Aldrich Ames” – a reference to the CIA agent who was convicted for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia in 1994.

              Deas’ career with the federal government began in 2003 when she became a U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspector assigned to the Nogales port of entry. In 2008, she became an ICE special agent in the city.

              Also named in the indictment was Deas’ sister, Dana Maria Samaniego, a former Mexican law enforcement official with alleged ties to drug trafficking organizations who remains a fugitive.

              Corruption cases involving federal officers and agents have increased in recent years as the U.S. government has ramped up recruitment in a drive to secure the southwest border with Mexico.

              Between October 2004 and May of this year, 138 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents were arrested or indicted for corruption, including drug and illegal immigrant smuggling, money laundering and conspiracy, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

              Investigations by ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility last year resulted in the arrest of 16 ICE and U.S. Customs and Border protection employees. It was not clear how many of those cases have resulted in a conviction.

              (Editing by Tim Gaynor and Paul Simao)


ReutersBy Paul M. Ingram | Reuters 

Home Churches Offer Safe Haven for Christians in Violence-Stricken Mexico.



A woman grieves next to bodies of men who were shot to death in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico.
The city has been hit by violence as drug gangs continue to battle for control of the region. (AP Images/Bernandino Hernandez)

Most headlines involving Mexico over the past few years have revolved around some sort of drug cartel shootings, kidnappings or most recently, arson.

Although the whole nation of Mexico is certainly not smothered in violence, many people in border towns are scared for their lives.

Of the 40,000 deaths that have occurred since 2006 connected to Mexican drug cartels, most have been men actually caught up in some way with the cartels.

But the violence has spread easily and quickly outside those circles to include many civilians, paralyzing many who live along the border with fear.

“People have a feeling that today could be the day that they die,” says Todd Szalkowski with E3 Partners.

“They literally approach every day, because of the violence there, as if it could be their last day on earth.”

Szalkowski says in every Mexico-U.S. border town, people have been directly affected by the violence through the death of innocent friends or family, the death of loved ones who were wrapped up in the cartels, or the abductions of those around them.

Szalkowski says kidnappings for ransom are common among middle-class Mexicans.

As a result, “People are afraid to gather in large groups, and that affects church-going people.

They’re seeing their pastors abducted out of the pulpit right in front of their eyes and held for ransom.”

Szalkowski says it’s gotten to the point where families are sending children away.

“Our pastor friends in these border towns are asking us to adopt their daughters and bring them to the United States because of their fear for their safety.”

Gripped by fear, even believers are too nervous to attend church. They’re staying in, and in extreme cases, some are turning to answers from ungodly sources.

“People feel the cartels are somehow protected [through] all kinds of idol worship,” explains Szalkowski.

“So civilians are looking at that and saying, ‘Well, if it’s protecting the cartels, maybe that’s the direction I should go,’ rather than worshipping the Creator God of the universe.”

E3 Partners has been in Mexico for 20 years.

The ministry currently has a presence in most key cities along the north and south borders.

After watching the ways spiritual growth has been halted by fear, E3 is planning a new plan of attack.

E3 is implementing their I Am Second program into home groups in Mexico, to encourage group Bible studies that will essentially serve as small house churches.

The hope is that as people get involved with the home churches, the groups will multiply.

So far, E3 has just completed a few training sessions, but their goal is to have 8,000 of these groups along the border.

In order to do this, E3 has a couple of needs.

First, these church groups, which will serve as beacons of Christ’s hope and light to a volatile area, need Bibles.

E3 is providing the groups with hardcover Bibles that will last.

The ministry also needs prayer that many might come to the Lord.

“[We’re] praying that we can reach as many people with the gospel of Jesus Christ before violence or other negative things impact their lives in such a way that we’ve lost them,” Szalkowski concludes.


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