Marijuana Smuggling Border Patrol Agent Aaron Anaya: “I’m fucked, you got me on video.”

San Francisco Chronicle:  News of the Day From Across the Nation:  Border Agent (Dec 4 2012)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been arrested after authorities say he used his patrol vehicle to smuggle drugs while on duty in Arizona, according to a federal complaint. Aaron Anaya was on patrol Sunday evening when he stopped along the international border, then loaded up several bundles of marijuana that had been dropped over the fence from Mexico, according to the complaint filed this week in federal court in Arizona.

KSWT:  Yuma Border patrol agent arrested for marijuana smuggling (Dec 4 2012)

Fellow agents busted him with bundles of marijuana inside of his border patrol truck. A surveillance plane captured it all camera.  According to this federal complaint, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Aaron Anaya loaded up his patrol truck with bundles of marijuana after three Mexican nationals tossed them over the fence to him.  Agents assigned to the Southwest Border Corruption Task Force were conducting aerial surveillance near milepost 192, between Yuma and Wellton.

The complaint states Anaya, assigned to the Wellton station, pulled up to the border fence to meet three people.  One person then climbed up the fence and threw three large bundles onto the U.S. side. The FBI said Anaya loaded the bundles into his patrol truck .  A short time later agents arrested Anaya. They found nearly 147 pounds of marijuana stashed in the back of his truck.

Salon:  Border Patrol agent arrested in smuggling probe (Dec 4 2012)

A federal criminal complaint says Agent Aaron Anaya was on patrol Sunday in southwest Arizona when he stopped along the international border. The complaint says people in Mexico dropped bales of marijuana over the fence, and Anaya loaded them in his car.  Authorities say a task force including FBI agents used aerial surveillance to track Anaya as he returned to patrol  …  He faces charges of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and carrying a firearm — his service weapons — while committing the crime.

Fronteras:  U.S. Border Patrol Agent Arrested Moving Dope (Dec 5 2012)

As he was being arrested, according to court documents, Agent Aaron Anaya told the FBI agents, “I’m fucked, you got me on video.”  The case started Sunday afternoon. FBI agents with a corruption task force were tracking him as he drove toward the border fence near Yuma, Ariz. According to court records they watched as three men on the Mexican side approached Anaya and passed him bales. He drove off, the task force still watching him from aircraft. Anaya triggered a series of ground sensors and radioed dispatch that it was only him in his vehicle setting off the sensors.  He was arrested hours later with nearly 150 pounds of marijuana in the back seat of his Border Patrol vehicle.

ABC 15:  Border Patrol agent gets new attorneys for smuggling case (Dec 7 2012)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of smuggling drugs while on duty has two new attorneys for his case.  Aaron Anaya’s motion for substitute counsel was granted Thursday and his scheduled detention and preliminary hearings were reset for Dec. 12. That gives Anaya’s new lawyers more time to prepare.

KSWT:  BP agent hires two attorneys to represent him in drug smuggling case (Dec 7 2012)

A new development in the case of the Yuma Sector Border Patrol Agent arrested for drug smuggling.  KSWT News 13 has learned Aaron Anaya has now hired two attorney’s to represent him.

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Poorly trained, ill-disciplined FBI pigs raid family’s home, shoot unarmed 18-year-old girl Myasia Hughley, appears no search warrant was properly served

Fortunately it was only a minor wound resulting from a richochet, and the girl is out of the hospital.

Really sloppy shooting on the part of the FBI’s cowboys — 7-8 shots, all misses except for the richochet fragment.  It’s good that they didn’t score a direct hit on the girl, but these idiots shouldn’t be running around with weapons.

Aslo seems that no search warrant was actually served, since the occupants of the home have no idea why it was raided in the middle of the night.

WJLA:  Shots fired during FBI warrant search in District Heights (Nov 15 2012)

An early morning FBI raid has a District Heights family in fear. The agents came into the house and drew their guns at the family’s daughter, but she wasn’t armed.

“They almost hit my daughter, man,” says Emory Hughley. “If I hadn’t told her to go back in her room they probably would have shot her.”

Hughley says he was asleep in the basement when he heard a bang at the front door. His 18-year-old daughter Myasia was upstairs in her room with two friends who were spending the night. Around 6 a.m. he says he came up to the living room and saw 15 FBI SWAT agents coming inside, guns drawn.

“I’m shouting ‘Nobody is armed, nobody has a gun!’ and then all of a sudden I heard ‘She’s got a gun!’ and they just opened fire,” he says.

Hughley says he looked up and saw his daughter standing outside her bedroom in the hallway. Then he heard gunfire.

“I’ve got eight holes in my wall. One bullet went past my head, almost hit me, ricocheted off my brick wall and some of the shrap metal hit my little daughter in the back of her neck, all for nothing.” says Hughley.

NBC Washington:  Woman Injured by Gunfire in District Heights FBI Raid (Nov 15 2012)

Hughley said his son and two of Myasia’s friends were also in the house when a SWAT team of about 15 agents, fully clad in riot gear, forcibly entered the split-level home around 6 a.m.

As Hughley was emerging from his lower-level bedroom, he heard agents yelling, “She’s got a gun, she’s got a gun,” he told Bensen.

Hughley said his daughter was wearing only a sleep shirt when the agent fired, barely missing her head. One shot broke into fragments as it hit the brick wall, striking her in the neck.

Hughley said he didn’t know what the search warrant was for, but that the family didn’t keep guns in their home.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office would not specify what the warrant was for, and haven’t provided any further information. But Hughley feels that the amount of force which agents opened home was excessive and dangerous, he told Bensen. The brick wall has multiple bullet holes.

Huffington Post:  FBI Fires Shots During Raid Of Maryland Home Of Emory Hughley (Nov 17 2012)

FBI officials later said they were there Thursday to perform a search warrant, but didn’t divulge the reason for the visit.

However, MyFoxDC reported that this was part of a coordinated series of FBI actions at locations in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. The station maintains that four people were arrested in the other raids on charges connected to heroin dealing.

Posted in Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Key witness to murder of Valeria Monique Alvarado (aka Valeria Munique Tachiquin) claimes he was harassed and detained by the Border Patrol after the shooting

Prince Watson, who observed the murder of Valeria Monique Alvarado (aka Valeria Munique Tachiquin) from a distance of 30 feet, claims that killer Justin Tackett was not on the hood of her car but rather was shooting from a standing position.  He further claims that the Border Patrol harassed and detained him afterward in an apparent attempt to coerce his story.

(I would think that forensic analysis of gunpowder deposits on the windshield should answer this question rather easily, and all they would need to verify it are an identical gun & ammo and a couple junked cars with intact windshields.)

10 News: Witness to deadly shooting by Border Patrol agent disputes official account:  War veteran also says he was harassed (Nov 21 2012)

Investigators said [Justin] Tackett was on the hood of Tachiquin’s moving car and feared for his life  …  [Prince] Watson said that is not what he saw.  “Just watching him from a standing position firing at the front of the car at the female,” Watson said. “He was not on the hood of the car. He was standing on his two feet.”  Watson said he could see Tackett’s face — that he was less than 30 feet away.

Watson said one of those agents wanted to know what he saw. Watson said he told the agent he didn’t have to say anything.  “He basically told me, ‘No, if you’re not going to give us a statement we’re taking you into custody, you’re under federal investigation, you’re being detained.’ And he handcuffed me and threw me in the car,” Watson said. “They were trying to tell me what I saw. They kept repeating themselves, ‘Hey that was an agent. He was on the hood of that car.’ I was scared.”  Watson said a Chula Vista police officer arrived and freed him.

“Unjustified behavior is what I saw,” Watson said. “I saw a man with no self control.”

“A man with no self-control” sounds a lot like the problem deputy described in the Imperial County lawsuit documents.

San Diego Free Press:  Border Patrol Story About Chula Vista Shooting Death Unraveling (Nov 21 2012)

The witness [Prince Watson] went on to tell 10News that he was handcuffed and thrown into a Border Patrol vehicle after refusing to give a statement to investigating officers.  “They were trying to tell me what I saw. They kept repeating themselves, ‘Hey that was an agent [Justin Tackett]. He was on the hood of that car.’ I was scared.”

Previously blogged here:


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Accused Border Patrol molester Jose Neri Jalomos caught because of text messages sent to victim

Jose Neri Jalomos, the border patrol agent arrested for molesting a 14-year-old relative, drew suspicion to himself by the text messages that he was sending to the girl.  Both the girl’s mother and his own wife questioned the text message.

KRIS TV:  6 Investigates: Border Patrol Agent Charged (Nov 1 2012)

According to the documents, Jose Jalomos, 49, was arrested after he was accused of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl at a family ranch in Duval County.  The affidavit said the girl’s mother became suspicious after Jalomos started sending the girl text messages “…inquiring of her whereabouts and what she was doing, almost boyfriend like.”  …  The girl’s mother, the affidavit said, confronted the girl, asking her what was going on between her and Jalomos. That’s when the girl “…told her she had been touched on her private parts.”

Tickle the Wire:  Texas Border Patrol Agent Accused of Molesting Teenage Relative Drew Suspicions from Text Messages (Nov 2 2012)

His wife also accused him of having an affair and seeing the text messages exchanged between her husband and the victim, according to the affidavit.

Previously blogged here:

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Florida ICE Chief Pervert Anthony Mangione gets 70 months in prison for kiddie porn

Anthony Mangione, who once supervised and bragged about his child porn investigations is now headed to the Big House for 70 months … for possessing kiddie porn himself.

Miami Herald: Former head of ICE gets nearly 6 years in prison for Internet child porn:The law enforcement officer charged with busting child-porn cases was sentenced to 70 months in prison for transporting images of child porn on his computer (Nov 9 2012)

According to court documents, Mangione, 52, who led the fight to hunt down child-porn suspects, was caught sending pictures of children engaging in sex after AOL detected the images and contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  He also created several AOL email accounts and screen names such as BookStoreMomNC and OldrMom11 to send the pornographic images, and he emailed pictures to a former school bus driver in Delaware between March and September 2010.  Four days after the images were detected by Mangione’s Internet provider, he left for a seminar in Portugal and learned of sites that people who engage in child pornography used to wipe their computers clean. He later installed wiping software on his personal computer and erased his own evidence.

He’d tried to claim he gave it up, but it didn’t fly …

WPTV:  Anthony Mangione child porn sentencing: Ex-Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief in court today (Nov 9 2012)

Just four days after America Online detected Mangione e-mailing child pornography and shut down one of his accounts, he went to Portugal for training on how to combat child sexual exploitation, according to court records. There, he learned about software programs to wipe clean files and web-surfing histories, wrote Michael W. Grant, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.   Mangione then installed three wiping programs on his laptop, Grant wrote.   “As such, there is no way to tell what was on the defendant’s computer during the time that he utilized these programs,” Grant wrote. “Furthermore, even if the defendant did cease using his computer or e-mail to transport these images, there is no way to know if it was because he wanted to stop, was afraid he was going to get caught or simply found other more secure methods to continue his criminal activity.”

Huffington Post:  Anthony Mangione’s Child Porn Case: Ex-ICE Chief In Florida, Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison  (Nov 12 2012)

Anthony Mangione faced a minimum of five years in prison after pleading guilty in July to using his home computer to receive and transmit images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  Mangione ran ICE’s South Florida operations from 2007 to 2011, including numerous child pornography investigations.

Government Security News:  Former Miami ICE chief sentenced on child porn charges (Nov 12 2012)

Anthony Mangione, 52, of Parkland, FL, was sentenced to 70 months in prison by a federal judge on Nov. 9, said the Department of Justice. In addition to the prison term, he was sentenced to 20 years of supervised release.  Mangione, who oversaw hundreds of ICE employees in his years as an ICE supervisor in South Florida between 2007 and 2011, pleaded guilty in a federal court in south Florida last July to one count of transportation of child pornography.

Previously blogged here:

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In the courts: Lawsuits on behalf of Border Patrol murder victims Sergio Hernández-Güerec and Juan Pablo Perez Santillán

The lawsuit regarding the 2010 murder of 15-year-old Sergio Hernández-Güerec at the hand of the Border Patrol’s thugs might not be as dead as many had thought.  The San Antonio News-Express reports that it is headed for the appellate courts, and there appears to be a reasonably good chance that the unilateral decision of the district court judge to dismiss the case will be reversed.

San Antonio News-Express:  Death of man in Mexico raises constitutional question in U.S. (Nov 25 2012)

Houston lawyer Bob Hilliard, the attorney in the case, has taken it to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and said he’s prepared to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether the agent acted in self-defense should be a jury question, he said.

“It can never be that he gets to decide for himself, you know, judge, jury and executioner within 20 seconds.”

“It’s just a hole in the constitutional interpretation to date,” he said. “Right now we have literally a venue vacuum that you can step inside of, pull a weapon and murder a Mexican citizen and then you just argue either justifiable homicide, self-defense, whatever you argue.”

“It seems like the default philosophy has been and now has settled into the life of a Mexican is not as valuable as a life,” Hilliard said. “That is the unspoken undercurrent of so much of what’s going on on the border. And that slope is so slippery.”

The constitutional question enthralls legal experts.

“The Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment does not apply for actions outside the U.S., and excessive force claims are brought under the Fourth Amendment,” Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert at the University of California at Irvine, wrote in an email.

Since the alleged deadly force originated in the U.S., Chemerinsky responded: “That makes it a truly fascinating case and certainly not a situation covered by Supreme Court precedents.”

Michael Steven Green, a law professor at the College of William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law, said the Hernández-Güereca case against the agents could prove easier to get overturned than Boumediene vs. Bush, the landmark Guantanamo detention case in which the Supreme Court sided with detainees.

The article further notes that the family of Juan Pablo Perez Santillan, who was also murdered by Border Patrol thugs last July, is moving forward with their lawsuit.  After the shooting, the thugs admonished Juan Pablo Perez Santillan’s family & friends to “Let the dog die.”

The murder of Juan Pablo Perez Santillanwas previously blogged here:

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Jury convicts FBI agent Adrian Norbell Johnson in fatal DUI accident

Adrian Norbell Johnson

Washington Post: Prince George’s grand jury indicts former FBI agent for vehicular manslaughter (Aug 18 2011)

Adrian N. Johnson was charged in the Feb. 7 crash that killed Lawrence Garner Jr., 18. Garner’s best friend, Robert Mitchell II, was injured.   Garner was headed south in his Hyundai Sonata in the 10600 block of North Keys Road in Brandywine when Johnson’s vehicle struck his car, police said. Johnson was driving a Mitsubishi Montero sport-utility vehicle, said Garner’s father, Lawrence Garner Sr., who went to the scene of the accident shortly after it happened.  Johnson, 37, had been driving north and veered across the center line, police said.

Washington Post:  Former FBI agent on trial in fatal Prince George’s crash (Oct 22 2012)

As his best friend pulled onto North Keys Road in Brandywine, Robert Mitchell II saw headlights coming toward him, apparently on the wrong side of the road. The next thing he remembers, Mitchell testified Monday, was the hospital.

What led to those traumatic moments — an automobile crash that left Mitchell, then 19, critically injured and 18-year-old Lawrence Garner Jr. dead — will be dissected this week in Prince George’s County Circuit Court, as prosecutors and defense attorneys haggle over who bears responsibility. Former FBI agent Adrian Johnson is charged with vehicular manslaughter and other offenses in the February 2011 crash.

WUSA 9:  FBI Agent Adrian Johnson found guilty by Upper Marlboro, Md., jury on all counts in death of Lawrence Garner Jr. (Oct 25 2012)

FBI agent Adrian Johnson was found guilty on all counts in the 2011 death of 18-year-old Lawrence Garner, Jr., according to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office.  A jury took two hours Thursday  to convict Johnson of motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing a life-threatening injury while impaired by alcohol and related charges.

ABC 2 News:  FBI agent found guilty in fatal car crash (Oct 25 2012)

FBI agent Adrian Johnson was found guilty Thursday by a Prince George’s County jury on all counts in the death of Lawrence Garner, Jr.  The jury took two hours to convict Johnson of motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing a life-threatening injury while impaired by alcohol and related charges  …  He is facing a maximum of 13 years in prison when he is sentenced on December 14th.  Johnson’s bond was revoked and he was remanded into custody.

CBS Local Baltimore:  Ex-FBI Agent Convicted In Fatal Car Crash (Oct 25 2012)

Prosecutors say Johnson faces up to 13 years in prison when he’s sentenced on Dec. 14. He was taken into custody.  Authorities say Johnson was intoxicated and speeding when he crashed his car into another vehicle in Brandywine on Feb. 7, 2011. The crash killed the other vehicle’s driver, Lawrence Garner Jr. The crash also seriously injured Garner’s best friend, Robert Mitchell II.

My Fox DC:  Former FBI agent found guilty in drunk-driving crash that killed teen in Brandywine (Oct 25 2012)

A Prince George’s County jury has found a former FBI agent guilty of killing a Maryland teenager in a drunk-driving car crash last year.  At the time, Adrian Johnson had just been promoted to protect the life of the U.S. Attorney General  …   Prosecutors say Johnson was doing 58 mph in a 40 mph zone and was highly intoxicated at the time of the crash.  “More than three times the legal limit,” says Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks. “It was .25 and this was taken three hours after his arrest, and so we believe it could have been even higher than that.”

Washington Post:  Ex-FBI agent convicted of motor vehicle manslaughter in Maryland crash (Oct 25 2012)

As a jury foreman repeated “We find the defendant guilty” for each count, family members of 18-year-old Lawrence Garner Jr. gathered in Prince George’s County Circuit Court began to sob and hug one another. When a judge ordered the former agent, Adrian Johnson, jailed until his Dec. 14 sentencing, a woman in the front row smacked her hands together and said, “Yes!”  Prosecutors had accused Johnson, 38, of speeding and driving drunk when he plowed into the side of a car as it pulled onto North Keys Road in February 2011. The crash killed Garner, the driver, and seriously injured his best friend, Robert Mitchell II, as they returned home from a friend’s house after playing basketball.

Posted in Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Customs supervisor Steven Metz busted for receiving and distributing kiddie porn

This is the earliest new report of the story.  After his home was raided, his wife ordered him to move out, and he apparently tried to drive in front of a train:

WIVB:  Car and train collide on Lake Avenue (Oct 26 2012)

A car and train collided along Lake Avenue in Blasdell Friday afternoon.  We don’t know if anyone was hurt. The stretch of road had to be shut down. No other details were released by authorities.

Fox News:  Border supervisor in NY charged in child porn case (Nov 15 2012)

A Customs and Border Protection supervisor in New York has been charged with possessing child porn.  Steven Metz of the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg appeared Thursday in federal court, where his lawyer said he denies the charges.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 40-year-old Metz received a series of emails from someone in Arizona earlier this year that contained images and videos of prepubescent children involved in sexual acts. They say Metz also distributed images.

Wall Street Journal:  Border supervisor in NY charged in child porn case  (Nov 15 2012)

Steven Metz of the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg appeared Thursday in federal court, where his lawyer said he denies the charges  …  Customs and Border Protection officials say Metz is on administrative leave.  Officers of the agency have made numerous child pornography arrests at border crossings like the Peace Bridge, where Metz was stationed.

Buffalo News:  Customs supervisor held on child porn charges (Nov 15 2012)

“Please don’t put me on the CBP [Customs & Border Protection] Wall of Shame,” [Steven] Metz told his supervisor, according to the complaint. “I have 16 years of service. I am hoping you can do that. I’m sorry for the embarrassment. I love coming to work.”  A source close to Metz’s family said he is a nationally recognized expert on terrorism-related smuggling and detecting hidden terrorist devices at border crossings.  “He has traveled all over the country, and even all over the world, to lecture police,” the source said Wednesday….

One day after the raid, Metz drove his car past a closed railroad safety barrier in Blasdell and onto railroad tracks, where it was struck by an oncoming freight train, law enforcement officials told The News.  The train struck the rear of Metz’s car, which was demolished, and Metz “unbelievably” survived without major injuries, one official told The News.  Blasdell Police Lt. Joseph Gramaglia declined to comment when asked if the incident at a Lake Avenue railroad crossing was considered a suicide attempt, but he said police learned that the driver “made a turn to get around the barriers” that had come down to prevent vehicles from crossing the railroad tracks.  He said the driver then drove his vehicle onto the tracks, directly into the path of an oncoming train.  “The driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to the Erie County Medical Center for treatment,” Gramaglia said.  While Gramaglia declined to identify the driver by name, other law enforcement officials identified him as Metz. They also told The News that, shortly after the train-car crash, federal agents showed up. Authorities said Metz has been receiving psychiatric treatment since the incident.

WKBW:  U.S. Customs and Border Protection Employee Charged with Child Porn (Nov 14 2012)

Steven Metz, 40, of Hamburg, a supervisor with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Buffalo, is charged with possession of child pornography. On August 31, a search warrant was executed for Metz’s email accounts. In October, agents raided his Hamburg home.  On October 26, one day after the raid, Metz was involved in a serious car crash after a train struck his vehicle on Lake Avenue in Blasdell, according to sources.  He escaped serious injury and was treated at ECMC.

Metro Western New York:  Hamburg man charged with possession of child pornography (Nov 15 2012)

Steven Metz, 40, of Hamburg, has been charged by criminal complaint with possession of child pornography, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced Wednesday, Nov. 14. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti, who is handling the case, stated that between January 2012 and March 2012, federal agents conducted an investigation into a suspect involved in child pornography in Phoenix, Ariz. According to the complaint, the suspect allegedly sent a series of emails to the defendant, a Customs and Border Protection employee, which contained both images and videos of prepubescent children involved in sexual acts.

WBFO:  Customs & Border Protection employee charged with possession of child pornography (Nov 15 2012)

[U.S. Attorney William J.] Hochul [Jr.] says there might be more information in court on why the opposition to [Steven] Metz being on the street.  The chief prosecutor wouldn’t say if it involved the man’s own family or what may have been a suicide attempt after his home was searched October 25.  The search grew out of probing an Arizona man who allegedly distributed child porn involving very young children and adult men.  Hochul says Metz’ involvement and his federal job brought on heavy investigations.

WIVB:  Customs officer charged over child porn (Nov 14 2012)

Steven Metz, 40, of Hamburg was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with possession of child pornography. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says a suspect in Arizona sent Metz child porn between January and March of this year.  “Agents of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) came upon e-mail accounts which indicated that child pornography was being sent to an address, an IP address, somewhere here in western New York,” U.S. Attorney William Hochul explained.  On August 31, agents obtained a warrant for Metz’s e-mail account, and prosecutors say they found Metz had both received and sent child pornography. The videos show adult men having intercourse and other sex acts with children, both boys and girls, just 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-years-old.

WIVB:  Hochul: Accused officer tried suicide (Nov 15 2012)

After federal agents searched [Steven] Metz’s home in Hamburg, prosecutors say his wife insisted he leave the house. He was also placed on administrative leave by the government.  That’s when prosecutors say he tried to take his own life by driving his car on rail tracks in Blasdell in front of an oncoming train, which News 4 covered on October 26. They feel he is still a danger to himself and others and needs to remain in custody  …  Metz has two fractures in his back and was also treated for psychiatric problems at ECMC, where he was just released. He is now being held in an undisclosed jail.

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Border Patrol Selling Weapons to Mexican Drug Cartel?

Reported in several blogs but not yet substantiated with any firm evidence is a report that one or more Border Patrol agents have been selling weapons to a Mexican drug cartel.

Wire / Dangerroom:  Report: Mexican Cartel Bought Guns From U.S. Border Patrol (Nov 8 2012)

The testimony of a Mexican hitman turned government witness has revealed some astonishing details of life inside Mexico’s criminal underworld. Most astonishing of all: claims that cartel assassins obtained guns from the U.S. Border Patrol.

According to Mexican magazine Revista Contralinea, the testimony comes from a protected government witness and former hitman, who cooperated in the prosecution of a Sinaloa Cartel accountant by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office. The testimony details a series of battles fought by a group of cartel members attempting to drive out rival gangsters from territory in Mexico’s desert west. To do it, the group sought weapons from the U.S., including at least 30 WASR-10 rifles — a variant of the AK-47 — allegedly acquired from Border Patrol agents.

The Javelins’ leader, Jose Vazquez or “Wild Boar” also seems to have been in charge of a pretty sophisticated operation. The group fielded escort teams for carrying weapons shipments and controlling drug trafficking routes, and teams of 12 for smuggling marijuana across the border. Cocaine was flown in from southern Mexico before being smuggled. They even had one command-and-control station for monitoring cameras placed along key highways.

Underneath Vazquez, according to the witness, was a deputy in Tucson in charge of smuggling weapons from the United States. Another deputy in Mexico was in charge of receiving the weapons. There was a deputy tasked with “cooptation of [Mexican] authorities” on the local, state and federal levels. Vazquez also had an accountant responsible for “organizing the logistics of fighting with other cartels,” paying for weapons including those allegedly obtained from the Border Patrol, and managing salaries. (The witness had a salary of $6,000 per month.)

We don’t know if the witness is telling the truth. And even if he or she is, we’re still not sure who the cartel had on the inside or who within the Border Patrol was selling guns.

The original article in Spanish:

Contralínea:  Sicarios del Chapo dicen haber comprado armas a la Border Patrol (Nov 7 2012)

English translation (Google Translate)


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ACLU: Border Patrol Must Stop Hiding the Truth About Its Uses of Force

Copied and pasted from here.  I can’t say it any better.  The suggestions regarding “best law enforcement practice” and “officer, hold room, and dashboard-mounted cameras” are especially important.  The Border Patrol must be held publicly accountable for its actions.

Border Patrol Must Stop Hiding the Truth About Its Uses of Force

By Chris Rickerd, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:24am

Border Patrol agents work in dangerous situations which can lead to tragic consequences like the shooting death and wounding of agents in Arizona this week.  There is no justification for such violence targeting law enforcement officers.  Yet there is also a crisis regarding use-of-force by Customs and Border Protection that is severely damaging the agency’s integrity (CBP is the Border Patrol’s parent and includes officers who work at ports of entry).  The many recorded incidents of CBP fatalities and abuses demand a comprehensive, independent investigation of CBP policies and practices, as requested by members of Congress, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  A permanent, arm’s-length oversight commission for CBP must also be created.

It’s not every day that the President of Mexico implies that an American law enforcement agent committed criminal homicide.  This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal asked “how many Americans have heard of Guillermo Arévalo Pedroza?  He was killed [in September] by a bullet fired from a U.S. Border Patrol boat while picnicking with his wife and two young girls on the south side of the Rio Grande, near Laredo, Texas.  ‘Nothing happened in the legal institutions of this country,’ [Mexican President] Calderón says with evident restraint, noting that another 14 Mexicans have been killed in roughly similar ways this year alone. ‘This father was not trying to cross the border, he was trying to pass a good day with his kids.’”

The Border Patrol agents claimed rocks were being thrown at them from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, although “[a] video posted online by a Nuevo Laredo news organization showed the shooting, but didn’t show any rock throwing.”  Reports from Laredo are that Mr. Arévalo died in the arms of his 9-year-old daughter.  Disputed facts aside, a cross-border shooting seems an inappropriate and unnecessary escalation of force.

Fatal Border Patrol shootings have occurred with dismaying frequency; others reported extensively include Juan Pablo Pérez Santillán (near Brownsville, Texas on July 7, 2012); U.S. citizen Carlos Lamadrid, 19, shot in the back three times while allegedly fleeing to Mexico (near Douglas, Arizona on March 21, 2011); and 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Guereca (near El Paso, Texas on June 7, 2010).

CBP can’t ignore systemic use-of-force problems because of pending confidential investigations into individual cases.  The agency must instead engage with the public and make clear whether or not it abides by best law enforcement practices, such as training agents to prioritize de-escalation techniques and equipping agents with protective gear that reduces their risk of injury and corresponding need to use potentially deadly force.  Moreover, CBP should explain in detail what disciplinary actions it takes for violations of use-of-force policies and what plans it has to install officer, hold room, and dashboard-mounted cameras to record its operations.  If CBP use-of-force policies and investigation protocols differ from best practices, these differences must be publicly justified.

CBP’s credibility is on the line: while the agency stays the course of silence its questionable use-of-force cases keep accumulating.  Last weekend, in San Diego, an American citizen mother of five was shot dead by a plainclothes Border Patrol agent.  The Border Patrol’s public reaction is that the agent “was carried several hundred yards [on the hood of the car] before he discharged his weapon through the windshield of the vehicle.”  Multiple published witness accounts contradict this version of events; for example, “[w]itness Ashley Guilbeau told KMFB-TV that the plainclothes agent walked toward the front of the car shooting ‘about 12 times’ without identifying himself: ‘Without her even able to say a word, I didn’t hear anything, [he] just came across and just shot at the windshield many times.’”

Earlier this year, PBS’s Need to Know featured the death in May 2010 of Anastacio Hernández Rojas, who left behind a widow and five U.S.-born children in San Diego.  PBS obtained eyewitness video of what are alleged to be five Tasings by CBP officers of a man handcuffed and surrounded by about a dozen agents, one of whom appears to have his knee on the man’s neck. The words “quit resisting” are heard over the prone man. The coroner’s office classified Mr. Hernández Rojas’s death as a homicide, noting in addition to his heart attack: “several loose teeth; bruising to his chest, stomach, hips, knees, back, lips, head and eyelids; five broken ribs; and a damaged spine.”  CBP’s version of events described a “combative” person: force was needed to “subdue the individual and maintain officer safety.”  It took two years – and PBS’s broadcast of the video – for a grand jury to be convened.

Americans don’t know what really happened in any of these cases.  The ACLU is certain, however, that use-of-force incidents like those described must not be swept under the carpet without full CBP transparency.  CBP proudly declares itself to be the largest law enforcement agency in the United States; that mantle carries responsibility to be accountable to the American public.

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