Archive for the “Drugs” Category

Racist Hispanic Caucus

Daily Pilot

As soon as a bipartisan resolution hit the floor of Congress last week calling for the pardon of two Border Patrol agents convicted of a shooting in 2005, the Democratic leadership bottled it up in committee, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said Monday

The bill, sponsored by William Delahunt (D-Mass.) with co-sponsorship from Silverstre Reyes (D-Texas) and Rohrabacher, was the first such bipartisan gesture since agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were served with 11 to 12 year prison sentences for shooting an accused smuggler in the back, Rohrabacher said.

?The significance of the resolution is that it is truly a bipartisan effort,? he said. ?Up until this point, this has basically been a conservative Republican cause.?

The bill was shelved this week after Rohrabacher lamented the efforts of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, whom he blamed for lobbying the resolution into political limbo.

?The [Democratic] leadership has gone along with the Hispanic Caucus and their claim that Ramos and Compean are guilty of police brutality,? he said.

?Instead of being proud Mexican-Americans who are defending our border, the Hispanic Caucus is portraying them as simple, brutal cops who are committing police brutality.?

The shooting victim, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, was charged last month with possession with intent to distribute marijuana in September and October 2005.

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TIJUANA, Mexico ? Gunmen killed the police chief of a Mexican city bordering California Tuesday by shooting him some 50 times in an apparent revenge attack after police found a drug-smuggling tunnel under the border.

Gunmen broke into the house of Tecate police chief Juan Soriano in the early hours of the morning and shot him repeatedly in the face and torso as he slept in bed with his wife, an official at the Baja California state attorney general’s office told Reuters. His wife was not hit.

The killing of Soriano, who had started his job only last week, appeared to be an act of revenge against Mexican police, who Monday discovered a tunnel nearly a mile long running into California from Tecate near the Pacific coast after a tip-off from the U.S. Border Patrol.

?As soon as Soriano made public the discovery of the tunnel, he went home and hours later, they executed him in his bedroom,? said the official, who requested anonymity.

The cartels are busy killing everybody.

Two Popular Mexican Singers Murdered

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Judge E. Grady Jolly, one of three judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hearing the case of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, questioned whether the two agents would have been charged if they had reported the shooting.

“For some reason, this one got out of hand, it seems to me,” Jolly said of the agents’ prosecution.

A federal jury in Texas convicted Ramos and Compean of assault, obstruction of justice and civil rights violations in the wounding of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila on the Texas border near El Paso in 2005. A federal judge sentenced Compean to 12 years in prison and Ramos to 11 years.

The agents’ attorneys are asking the 5th Circuit to throw out the convictions. The judges didn’t indicate when they will rule on the appeals.

“It does seem to me that the government overreacted here,” Jolly said, noting the severity of the charges and the lengthy sentences prosecutors sought, as he questioned Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Stelmach.

Jolly said that if the agents had reported the shooting, as required, “this prosecution never would have occurred, in all likelihood.”

Read more.

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Washington Post

MEXICO CITY — The Bush administration’s proposed counternarcotics aid package for Mexico would set in motion a vast reengineering of the country’s justice system, revamping the legal education process, creating a network of court clerks and helping to write new laws, according to two summaries obtained by The Washington Post.

The $500 million plan would also fund anti-drug and human rights campaigns and new citizen complaint centers. It would provide money for efforts to develop “centers of moral authority” and for media campaigns to create “a culture of lawfulness.”

Under the plan, which has drawn criticism from some on Capitol Hill, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Prisons would conduct training sessions and military officers would provide instruction related to aircraft.

Nearly every sector of Mexico’s federal justice system would receive a slice of the proposed aid, with millions being doled out for equipment and training for prosecutors, federal police, prison managers and customs inspectors. It would also give birth to new institutions: Money has been set aside, for instance, to help establish a training academy for drug-sniffing dogs and their handlers.

Bush proposed the package Oct. 22, announcing its inclusion in a supplementary war spending bill. The aid was requested by the Mexican government, which has been struggling to contain a war among drug cartels that are blamed for more than 4,000 killings in the past 18 months. If approved by the U.S. Congress, the package would represent a landmark in relations between the two countries, which often have failed to coordinate counternarcotics efforts.

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drug smuggler
Worthless POS

Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas (AP) â?? A Mexican man shot by a pair of U.S. Border Patrol agents who were later convicted in the shooting has been indicted on federal drug smuggling charges, authorities said Thursday.

Osvaldo Aldrete Davila was arrested Thursday at an international port of entry in El Paso, according to U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.

A sealed indictment was issued in October charging him with smuggling marijuana in September and October of 2005, several months after he was shot in the buttocks while fleeing from a pair of Border Patrol agents.

The agents, Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were convicted last year of shooting Aldrete and lying about it.

Aldrete is scheduled to appear in federal court in El Paso on Friday.

Sutton noted that critics of the prosecution of the agents have complained that Aldrete, “the fleeing, unarmed drug smuggler they shot,” should have been prosecuted.

“I have repeatedly said that if we obtained sufficient competent and admissible evidence against Aldrete, we would prosecute him,” Sutton said in a statement.

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Consoling: Two who lost relatives to gang violence, Charlene Lovette, at right, and Beatrice Villa, hold hands with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

No One Here Gets Out Alive
The Mexican Mafiaâ??s racial cleansing campaign targets L.A.
LA City Beat
November 8, 2007

In the words of the Rev, K.W. Tulloss, â??the nightmare has come true.â? Federal indictments unsealed on October 16 allege that leaders of the Florenza 13 (F 13s) gang acted on orders from the Mexican Mafia to cleanse their neighborhoods of African-American gang and non-gang members. â??The most disturbing aspect is that gang members allegedly engaged in a series of attacks â?¦ that extended to innocent citizens who ended up being shot simply because of the color of their skin,â? said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Oâ??Brien.

The news was a bitter pill to black and Latino activists who struggled all year to get law enforcement and city leaders to admit that the rash of racially motivated killings and attacks against African-Americans and their Latino supporters is part of a larger and chilling plot â?? a highly organized effort by the Mexican Mafia (La Eme) to cleanse the many neighborhoods they control of their black population.

While law enforcement and prosecutors had previously admitted some Latino gangs engaged in racial attacks on innocent citizens, the Justice Department disclosures about the Mexican Mafia â?? known for its racist agenda against prison blacks as well as its collaboration with the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood â?? represented the first time that law enforcement publicly stated such a strong connection.

“I was relieved this information finally surfaced because weâ??ve been trying to bring it to light for a long time and some individuals are saying weâ??re exaggerating,â? Tuloss says. His mother recently moved from Harbor Gateway after 10 years because the hate-crime murder of 14-year-old Cheryl Green by the Latino gang, the 204s, made her worry that her African-American teenaged son â?? Tullossâ??s brother â?? would be next. â??But Iâ??m furious that elected officials havenâ??t come together. The victimsâ?? parents are furious. Those who have lost their children to hate crimes are furious.â?

â??How much innocent blood must be spilled before we do something?â? It is a message Tulloss feels activists had made loud and clear since the January 2007 press conference organized by Project Islamic Hopeâ??s Najee Ali in the aftermath of Cheryl Greenâ??s murder. Joining him were members of the Mothers of Murdered Children, Tulloss (who is president of National Action Network, L.A. chapter), and Los Angeles Humanity Advocacy Groupâ??s Melvin Snell.

Activists insisted that the Green murder in Harbor Gateway (where we learned that Latino gangs had forbidden blacks to cross the street) and hate-crime murders and attacks on blacks in Highland Park, werenâ??t random racial attacks. Rather, these show to them that the Mexican Mafia is moving on an agenda that forces African Americans living in Southern California areas under Mexican Mafia Control to leave or be killed.

In light of this, Snell, argue, LAPDâ??s gang strategy was like â??putting a Band-Aid on cancer.â?

Criminal attorney Anthony Willoughby, who has defended members of the Mexican Mafia, said that city leaders need to loudly condemn the racial killings and bring in the FBI, advice he gave L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during the mayoral election. â??The silence by elected officials has been deafening.â? He repeats it now, adding, â??There are major problems from Riverside all the way to L.A. The silence is an indictment of the black elected officials because they have sold their souls.â?

To Luisa Prudhomme, the Justice Department hasnâ??t said anything she didnâ??t already know. Obsessed with the search for the Avenues gang shooter who murdered her African-American son Anthony in 2000, Prudhomme compiled an impressive roster of law enforcement officials who told her that the Mexican Mafia directed the racially motivated killing of Anthony, as well as homicides and attacks on other blacks in Highland Park. And yet, none of the law enforcement officials Prudhomme directed this reporter to call back in March would go on the record about the Mexican Mafiaâ??s role in the Highland Park murders, including FBI agent Jerry Fradella, whom Prudhomme insists drew that connection for her. CityBeat contacted Fradella, who agreed to speak about it, pending approval by FBI press agent Laura Eimiller. But Eimiller e-mailed that Fradella worked the Avenues case â??from a civil rights standpoint and is not an expert on the Mexican Mafia.â?

Today Prudhomme asks the same question sheâ??s asked a lot in the last six years: â??Whereâ??s the outrage?â? Certainly thereâ??s enough to go around. The arrests of the F 13s, the 2007 indictments of the Columbia Lil Cycos (a subset of the 18th Street Gang) and the â??Coachella Emeâ? provide chilling details of the Mexican Mafiaâ??s escalating grip on the Southern California streets. Taken together, the indictments, as well as an affidavit by an FBI agent unsealed last month, offer troublesome proof of the connections between Latino gangs and the prisons, where incarcerated gangbangers who fail to follow Mexican Mafia orders are dealt with swiftly and violently, while those who obey are protected.

In L.A., the F 13s began targeting black gang members supposedly around a beef with a Crips subset. The LA F13s is one of the largest street gangs in L.A. County, with family members spanning generations, too. This is organized crime: Networks of shooters, gunrunners, drug dealers, legal fees paid in bags of cash. Generations tied to a gang that is potentially as powerful as the Sicilian Mafia was in the â??50s, with a racial agenda to boot.

Blacks murdered standing on street corners, or waiting for the bus. Gang members bragging that they â??got another one.â? There were 41 murders in Florence-Firestone in 2005. Only half of the victims were gang affiliated.

â??I feel vindicated,â? says Ali, who adds that heâ??s gotten flack all year from his Latino and African-American friends who feared this dialogue would further fuel the fires of racial hatred.

In 2006 and 2007, The Southern Poverty Law Center website offered articles about ethnic cleansing and the Mexican Mafia by Brentin Mock, including one by Tony Rafael, a writer who has been tracking the Mexican Mafia for nearly a decade. Black minuteman organizer Ted Hayes seized on â??ethnic cleansingâ? to rally anti-immigrant forces around a theme that â??illegal aliensâ? were killing blacks. Mock apologized, even though both of his articles would prove to be accurate……

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No One Gets Out Alive
How Florencia 13 ruled the streets
The chilling details from the indictments
LA City Beat
November 8, 2007

The largest federal gang case ever in Southern California has netted 80 members of the Florencia 13 street gang, with 21 others still at large. The accused are charged with a variety of crimes, ranging from racketeering to narcotics trafficking to attempted murder. While many of them were plucked straight from the higher echelons of the gangâ??s leadership structure, a number of â??day-to-day gangstersâ? are included as well.

â??Theyâ??re a serious threat to the health and safety of the people of South L.A.,â? said Assistant United States Attorney Peter A. Hernandez. â??The intent [was] to cripple the gang as much as possible in terms of the leadership structure and their abilities to traffic in large amounts of drugs, to diminish the random acts of violence â?¦ and to lessen the control they have on the community.â?

Worries exist, though, that the arrests could leave a power vacuum in the area, leading remaining gangs to fill it as quickly as possible. A significant portion of the drug trade in the area is now up for grabs.

â??Our hope is that people wouldnâ??t necessarily come over and take over the drug distribution dens that Florencia 13 set up,â? said Hernandez.

The two arrest sweeps last month are part of an ongoing investigation focused on a range of criminal activities, including a string of race-motivated murders. â??The most disturbing aspect of the case is that in working to eradicate rival gangs from streets claimed by Florencia, gang members allegedly engaged in a series of attacks on rival African-American gangs that extended to innocent citizens who ended up being shot simply because of the color of their skin,â? said United States Attorney Thomas P. Oâ??Brien in a statement. Investigations continue into these alleged race-motivated murders, many allegedly committed by Florencia against their rivals, of whom the most significant are the predominantly African-American East Coast Crips.

The four indictments are wide-ranging and detail a complex, three-year investigation â?? named Operation Jokerâ??s Wild â?? into the Florencia 13â??s activities in and around Huntington Park and other unincorporated areas south of Los Angeles.

According to the indictments, the gang was controlled by senior gang members in the Mexican Mafia, an organized gang involved in narcotics distribution and other criminal activities in Californiaâ??s state prisons. Florencia 13 collected â??taxesâ? from people participating in other criminal activities in areas it controlled and paid its own â??taxesâ? to the Mexican Mafia in exchange for controlling the areas it operated in, and for protection once gang members entered Californiaâ??s prison system……

To read entire article click here.

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A peace rally in racially divided Gateway, where bullet holes mar a street sign.

No One Gets Out Alive
Race Crimes
The toll of murder and mayhem based on skin color
La City Beat
November 8, 2007

March 23, 2007 â?? Kevin William Ridenour, 21, and Nicholas Edward Craig, 18, both white, burn a large wooden cross on the street in front of a Westwood rectory. They plead guilty to felony interference with the housing rights of an African-American priest.

Feb. 2007 â?? Three Latino girls in Inglewood are beat up by 13 blacks, who allegedly yelled racial slurs.

Jan. 26, 2007 â?? Demetrius Perry, 23, is shot to death while playing basketball by Latinos yelling a gang epithet in Florence-Firestone area.

Jan. 2007 â?? Ollis Morris, 58, finds his Compton apartment burglarized, a garage set on fire, and racial slurs sprayed on the walls.

Dec. 2006 â?? Bogos Barsegian, 59, allegedly knocks two black women to the ground and threatens to destroy their house when one canâ??t pay her cab fare in Pasadena. He is charged with suspicion of hate crimes, attempted robbery, and making terrorist threats.

Dec. 15, 2006 â?? Cheryl Green, 14, is shot to death by Latino 204th Street gang in Harbor Gateway. Jonathan Fajardo, 18, and Ernesto Alcarez, 20, plead not guilty to capital murder and hate crimes. They will stand trial.

Dec. 5, 2006 â?? Arturo Ponce (a.k.a. Arturo Mercado), 34, a Latino, is killed on 205th Street in Harbor Gateway. He had no gang affiliation. Witnesses say the shooter yelled a Mexican slur. The case is unsolved.

Oct. 31, 2006 â?? In Long Beach, nine black teens are found guilty of assaulting three white teens. Eight face a hate-crime sentencing enhancement. Eight are sentenced to probation and house arrest; one is sentenced to only probation.

July 7, 2006 â?? Ronald Lee Bray, 25, yells racial slurs, spits on a black man in a wheelchair, and pushes him into a light pole in Costa Mesa. He is sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to committing a hate crime and making a criminal threat.

Feb. 2006 â?? Latino/Black riots at Pitchess Detention Center.

August 23, 2005 â?? Steve Lawson, an African-American, is threatened with a knife and harassed with racial slurs by Abel Castaneda, 39, a Latino, of Santa Ana. Castaneda is convicted of a hate crime, making criminal threats, and assault with a deadly weapon.

2005 â?? Alejandro Barrales, a Latino, is shot to death by East Coast Crips.

2005 â?? Gabino Lopez, 52, Latino, is killed by a black man trying to join East Coast Crips.

2003 â?? Eric Butler, 39, black, is shot to death as he drove from the the Del Amo Market, which the 204th Street gang considered within its territory, in Harbor Gateway. The case is unsolved.

Sept. 29, 2001 â?? Robert Hightower, 19, a black high school senior from Pasadena, is shot to death after visiting his sister by a 204th street gang member in Harbor Gateway. He was shot because the gang member was upset a black had defeated a Latino in a boxing match. A gang member is convicted of murder.

Dec. 11, 2000 â?? Christopher Bowser, 28, black â?? harassed and beaten up by the defendants in the Anthony Prudhomme case for years â?? is shot to death. Four gang members arrested â?? Gilbert â??Luckyâ? Saldana, Alejandro â??Birdâ? Martinez, Fernando â??Sneakyâ? Cazares, and Porfirio â??Dreamerâ? Avila. They are convicted of hate crimes, assaults, and killings, and are sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

August 25, 2000 â?? Kent Lopez, 20, black, is shot to death by 204th Street gang members. Two gang members are convicted of murder.

July 22, 2000 â?? Mario Cervantes, 18, Latino, is shot and killed on 206th Street by a black member of 208th Street Crips who is convicted of murder. Cervantes was a recent 204th Street gang member.

May 21, 2000 â?? Dino Downs, 41, black, is shot to death by two Latinos, possibly members of 204th Street gang, outside his home on 208th Street. The case is unsolved.

2000 â?? Anthony Prudhomme, black, is killed by Latino gang Avenues in Highland Park. Four gang members arrested â?? Gilbert â??Luckyâ? Saldana, Alejandro â??Birdâ? Martinez, Fernando â??Sneakyâ? Cazares, and Porfirio â??Dreamerâ? Avila. They are convicted of hate crimes, assaults, and killings and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

June 2, 1999 â?? Manuel Flores, 32, Latino, is shot to death by a black man on 208th Street. The case is unsolved.

April19, 1999 â?? Michael Richardson, 22, black, is shot to death on 207th Street by a 204th Street gang member in Harbor Gateway. A gang member was convicted of murder and a hate crime.

April 1999 â?? Kenneth Wilson, black, is shot and killed by three Latino members of the Avenues gang (the same defendants in Prudhomme case).

March 27, 1997 â?? Marquis Wilbert, 11, black, is shot and killed by a 204th Street gang member in Harbor Gateway. A gang member is convicted of murder.

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The drug trafficker was registered with the “Free and Secure Trade program.” Calexico is where the goons are having their campout this weekend. Maybe the drug trafficker thought the Border Agents were so distracted by the goons that he could slip by.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 8.85 tons of marijuana from a truck from Mexico on Friday afternoon, the largest marijuana load ever to be seized at the Calexico port of entry, officials said Saturday.

A 25-year-old Mexicali resident registered with the Free and Secure Trade program was driving a 1992 GMC tractor-trailer with a shipment described as flat-panel-screen televisions. As the truck waited to enter the U.S. about 4:20 p.m., border patrol agents with a police dog checked the truck. The narcotics dog alerted agents of the truck’s load and agents then inspected the load with a gamma-ray system that showed images of anomalies inside the shipment, officials said.

When agents opened the truck doors, several large packages fell out. Officials said 1,019 large packages of marijuana valued roughly $67.3 million were seized. The driver was arrested and booked into the Imperial County jail.

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McALLEN, Texas â?? A man was arrested for drug possession after telling authorities that two masked gunmen had stolen 150 pounds of marijuana from his home.

Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home near Penitas in South Texas to find the door kicked in and nearly 15 pounds of pot lying on the floor, Sheriff Lupe Trevino said.

Jose Guadalupe Flores, 35, escaped while the men ransacked the house but returned later and told the deputies he had been wrapping the drugs for shipment when the intruders arrived.

“The guy walked right up and said the drugs were his,” Trevino said. “That’s not the smartest move.”

Flores, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was charged with felony possession of marijuana at an arraignment hearing Monday. Because of his immigration status, Flores will be jailed until his case is heard.

Authorities were still searching for the gunmen.

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AZ Starnet

A Catalina High Magnet School student and his family were deported after school officials found marijuana in his backpack and called Tucson police, who notified the Border Patrol after learning the family was here illegally.

The incident caused concern among immigrant rights advocates, but Tucson police officials say the officer acted appropriately in calling Border Patrol agents to the school.

On Thursday, police responded to Catalina High after school officials found a small amount of marijuana in the backpack of a ninth-grader who appeared to be under the influence, said Chyrl Hill Lander, Tucson Unified School District spokeswoman.

Police asked the boy’s parents to come to the school, at East Pima Street and North Dodge Boulevard.
When the officer asked to see the drivers’ licenses of the boy’s parents, they said they had been living illegally in the United States for six years and that their 17-year-old son and his brother, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Doolen Middle School, were also here illegally, said Roberto Villaseñor, assistant Tucson police chief.

The officer called the Border Patrol, which sent agents to the school, said Richard DeWitt, Tucson Sector spokesman. They took the boy and his parents into custody and escorted the family from the school, Lander said.

From there, they went to Doolen Middle School, where the couple’s other son was waiting in the principal’s office when the officer and agents arrived, she said.

The mother and two boys were processed and dropped off at the border by the Border Patrol to return to Mexico in a procedure called voluntary return. The father was held for a formal removal â?? formerly known as a deportation â?? because he had been apprehended various times by the agency, DeWitt said. Their names were not released.

Immigrants’ rights groups say allowing immigration officials into schools could create distrust and fear among invaders. TUSD officials said police should have waited to call immigration agents.

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I wonder if Johnny Sutton will prosecute the Border Agents for violating the civil rights of the drug smuggler.

AZ StarNet

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office on Friday identified a suspected drug smuggler who was shot and injured by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer Thursday afternoon.
Ramon Davalos-Lopez, 41, an illegal entrant, was shot east of Douglas after he fled from authorities in a stolen vehicle loaded with more than 800 pounds of marijuana, said Carol Capas, a Cochise County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

Read more.

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Dramatic Rise In Border Violence, Drug Smuggling
Judicial Watch
October 25, 2007

While increased security on the Mexican border has reduced the number of illegal crossers, it has also magnified violence among professional smugglers connected to drug cartels that often outgun U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Soon-to-be-released Homeland Security statistics reveal that the U.S. crackdown has indeed deterred Individuals from attempting to enter the country illegally, but it has also created a lucrative human smuggling enterprise operated by heavily armed drug cartels that charge up to $6,000 a person.

Essentially, smalltime smuggling operations have been replaced with sophisticated ones run by Mexicoâ??s notorious cocaine cartels. Smugglers now carry high-caliber weapons, use military tactics to evade capture and dress in camouflage uniforms. Often gunfights occur between rival smuggling gangs or gangs that hijack each otherâ??s human cargo as they make their way north.

A chief investigator for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona says the escalation in violence is one of the unintended consequences of sealing the border. Because the tougher security makes it harder for people to cross, smugglers are able to charge thousands and that has made human trafficking an attractive market for Mexicoâ??s drug cartels.

Border Patrol agents have actually seen a commingling of drugs and human cargo and they frequently capture migrants who pay for their trip by transporting drugs into the U.S. So, while less illegal immigrants are entering the country, this team effort has increased the amount of narcotics that make it in.

Nearly 2 million pounds of marijuana were seized along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last year, a huge increase from the previous year in which only 300,000 pounds were confiscated. Cocaine seizures also rose.

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FOX news

OMAHA, Neb. â?? Law enforcement officials arrested 40 people and seized drugs, cash and weapons, seriously denting Omaha operations of a street gang with ties to Central America, officials with several agencies said Tuesday.

The arrests were part of an ongoing investigation of the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

Fifteen of those arrested were linked directly to the gang and charged with various gun, drug and immigration violations, First Assistant U.S. Attorney William Mickle said. Ten were charged federally and five faced state charges.

While searching for gang members, authorities arrested 25 people and charged them only with being in the United States illegally, said Bill Wallrapp, resident agent-in-charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Wallrapp said authorities were still determining whether some of those people were tied to the gang.

Authorities seized illegal weapons, 20 pounds of marijuana, a half pound of methamphetamines and 4 ounces of cocaine, Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren said.

Agents with the FBI, ICE, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Nebraska State Patrol and Omaha and Bellevue police continued executing search warrants and making arrests Tuesday, and authorities expected gang arrests and indictments to rise.

“We’re on our way to dismantling MS-13 here in Omaha,” FBI Special Agent-in-Charge John Kavanaugh said.

Details about the charges and those suspected were not immediately available because the indictments were sealed.

The arrests came as part of Operation Community Shield, a national initiative targeting gangs that was launched more than two years ago after federal officials identified the MS-13 gang as one of the nation’s largest and most violent.

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Gang rivalry grows into race war

LA Times

Over the years, two rival gangs have battled over control of the drug trade in Florence-Firestone, an unincorporated neighborhood north of Watts.

The feud has escalated into what many residents call a race war.

It used to be that innocent bystanders were not targeted, said Chris Le Grande, pastor of Great Hope Fellowship in Faith, one of Florence-Firestone’s largest black churches. “Now it’s deliberate. ‘I’m deliberately shooting you because of your color.’ ”

On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney’s office announced a sweeping indictment against more than 60 members of Florencia 13, accusing the Latino gang of waging a violent campaign to drive out African American rivals. Once primarily black, the working class community of 60,000 today is mostly Latino.

The neighborhood saw 41 homicides in 2005, surpassing the homicide rate in some of the nation’s most dangerous big cities, authorities said. About half of those killed had no gang affiliation.

Homicides dropped to 19 last year after a major law enforcement crackdown that led to 230 felony arrests and the seizure of 130 weapons. But the level of violence remains high.

Authorities attribute the neighborhood’s gang troubles in large part to the huge demographic shift that occurred in this economically depressed community over the last 20 years, tipping the balance of power from black to Latino and turning it into a tinderbox of racial tensions.

That kind of demographic shift has occurred in many parts of Southern California, but Florence-Firestone is one of the places where it has turned violent.

Race, gang rivalry and drugs have become impossibly tangled as motives in killings and assaults in the neighborhood, authorities and residents say. The result: a gangland version of racial profiling.

“They just see a young man of the opposite race and they shoot,” said Olivia Rosales, a former hate-crime prosecutor, who prosecuted all the East Coast-Florencia murder cases for the last two years. “They don’t stop to question whether or not they are a member of the gang.”

Of the 20 cases she prosecuted, said Rosales, who now runs the district attorney’s Whittier office, “most of the victims have not been members of the rival gang.”

Demetrius Perry, 22, was shot to death by Latinos yelling a gang epithet as he played basketball in January at Drew Middle School, witnesses said.

“We used to kick it with” Latinos, said Perry’s father, Benny, who is black and grew up in the area. “Now you constantly hear about it: This is their land first and they’ve come to take it back.”

Timothy Slack, who lives a few blocks from Great Hope Fellowship church, said Latino gang members often drive by shooting at blacks. He doesn’t allow his kids to go to the store and he never uses alleys anymore.

Slack grew up in Florence-Firestone when it was mostly black and had few Latinos.

Back then, “they were timid,” he said. “But as their numbers started getting bigger, then they started trying to be tougher. They started thinking they could demand stuff.”

Read more.

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