Archive for April 8th, 2008

The Washington Times

The suspected leader of a firearms smuggling ring in Arizona and New Mexico has been arrested by federal agents in a law-enforcement effort to shut down a flood of high-powered weapons to Mexican drug smugglers from sellers in the United States.

Victor Varela was taken into custody Thursday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents who also recovered .50-caliber semiautomatic rifles and several handguns intended for drug smugglers in Palomas, Mexico, just south of Columbus, N.M.

A charging document in the case said Mr. Varela and several co-defendants acted as ?straw purchasers? in buying firearms in Arizona to be turned over to drug smugglers in Mexico.

?The quick action by ATF in this investigation exemplifies our commitment to cut off the illegal flow of firearms to violent criminals in the United States and Mexico,? said ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who heads the agency’s Phoenix Field Division.

Authorities said that along with the seized firearms, Mr. Varela was trying to buy a fully automatic, M-60 machine gun and that a number of firearms recovered by Mexican law enforcement and military personnel in Palomas and Juarez were trafficked by his gun smuggling network.

A task force of federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies in Arizona also recently seized 200 assault-style weapons, 60,000 rounds of ammunition and $3.5 million in cash, authorities said. Those seizures included a Serbu .50 caliber sniper rifle, a Norinco SKS assault rifle, eight semiautomatic handguns, one silencer, 3,500 rounds of ammunition and weapons components.

The arrests were part of a Border Enforcement Security Task Force initiative aimed at prosecuting gang members, weapon smugglers and others.

?Many of these seized weapons would have been used by organized criminal gangs against our law-enforcement partners in Mexico. By stopping them here, we are preventing these tragedies from occurring there,? said Richard Crocker, deputy special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Tucson, Ariz.

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The Washington Post

MEXICO CITY — The Absolut vodka company apologized Saturday for an ad campaign depicting the southwestern U.S. as part of Mexico amid angry calls for a boycott by U.S. consumers.

The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan “In an Absolut World,” showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states. Mexico still resents losing that territory in the 1848 Mexican-American War and the fight for Texas independence.

But the ads, which ran only in Mexico and have since ended, were less than ideal for Americans undergoing a border buildup and embroiled in an emotional debate over illegal immigration from their southern neighbor.

More than a dozen calls to boycott Absolut were posted on michellemalkin.com, a Web site operated by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. The ads sparked heated comment on a half-dozen other Internet sites and blogs.

“In no way was it meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues,” Absolut said in a statement left on its consumer inquiry phone line.

Some fringe U.S. groups also claim the land is rightfully part of Mexico, while extreme immigration foes argue parts of the U.S. already are being overtaken by Mexico.

“In an Absolut world, a company that produces vodka fires its entire marketing department in a desperate attempt to win back enraged North American customers after a disastrous ad campaign backfires,” a person using the moniker “SalsaNChips” wrote on Malkin’s Web site.

A plan for comprehensive immigration reform designed to deal with an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States _ the vast majority from Mexico _ collapsed last summer under the emotional weight of the debate.

Absolut said the ad was designed for a Mexican audience and intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”

“As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market, and for that we apologize.”

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The Washington Post

A highly touted partnership between the Prince William County jail and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is showing signs of strain, as crowding at the facility has hit an all-time high and federal agents are taking weeks — not the agreed-upon 72 hours — to pick up illegal immigrant suspects, jail officials said.

Letters sent recently by Prince William jail board Chairman Patrick J. Hurd to Julie L. Myers, head of ICE, and top officials in Prince William and Manassas said that jail workers are “at or close to their limit” as a result of new local policies that require residency checks of inmates suspected of being in the country illegally. Jail employees with immigration training are working 60 hours a week, Hurd said, and the facility is spending $220,000 a month to house a growing number of inmates elsewhere in the state.

“Something’s got to change,” Hurd said. “We’re worried about the impact on our staff.”

The unanticipated expense comes as county officials wrangle over budget shortfalls, tax increases and the additional costs of tighter immigration enforcement by its police department, which, like the jail, has a partnership with ICE through a program known as 287(g).

Under the federal program, participating jurisdictions can deputize local law enforcement officials to receive training and assist ICE in processing illegal immigrants. The local officers investigate suspects who they think are illegal immigrants, working with the federal agency to increase arrests and expedite the deportation process.

The program has become popular with elected officials whose constituents have been demanding tougher action on illegal immigration. Since 2005, the number of state and local agencies participating in 287(g) nationwide has increased from four to 47, including the Prince William jail and the police departments in Prince William, Manassas and Herndon.

But cracks in the agency’s partnership with the jail suggest that federal authorities are struggling to fulfill their commitments. In Prince William, ICE agents are supposed to retrieve suspected illegal immigrants from the jail within 72 hours of their scheduled release from county custody, under the agreement that went into effect in July. Instead, Hurd says, inmates are waiting as long as four weeks, and the already-crowded jail is spending $3 million a year in additional transportation and processing costs.

Hurd’s calculations do not include the potential impact of the Prince William police policy implemented March 1, which directs patrol officers to investigate a crime suspect’s residency status if they think the person is an illegal immigrant. People detained for traffic violations or other minor offenses might wait weeks for federal removal.

In an e-mail, ICE spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs said the agency met with jail officials Thursday and pledged to beef up its commitment.

“Both parties recognized that due to the dramatic increase in the number of aliens being sent to ICE beyond the originally projected caseload, that closer coordination would be required,” Fobbs said. “Both agencies will continue to work together to facilitate a more expedient way to transition aliens.” The agencies will begin meeting monthly “to assess any adjustments that need to be made,” she said.

Since the partnership started, the jail has processed about 13,000 suspects, superintendent Col. Peter A. Meletis said. Officers have conducted checks on 1,199 inmates, 632 of whom were wanted by ICE.

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The Handbook of Texas

PLAN OF SAN DIEGO. With the outbreak of revolution in northern Mexico in 1910, federal authorities and officials of the state of Texas feared that the violence and disorder might spill over into the Rio Grande valley. The Mexican and Mexican-American populations residing in the Valley far outnumbered the Anglo population. Many Valley residents either had relatives living in areas of Mexico affected by revolutionary activity or aided the various revolutionary factions in Mexico. The revolution caused an influx of political refugees and illegal immigrants into the border region, politicizing the Valley population and disturbing the traditional politics of the region. Some radical elements saw the Mexican Revolutionqv as an opportunity to bring about drastic political and economic changes in South Texas. The most extreme example of this was a movement supporting the “Plan of San Diego,” a revolutionary manifesto supposedly written and signed at the South Texas town of San Diego on January 6, 1915. The plan, actually drafted in a jail in Monterrey, Nuevo León, provided for the formation of a “Liberating Army of Races and Peoples,” to be made up of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Japanese,qv to “free” the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado from United States control. The liberated states would be organized into an independent republic, which might later seek annexation to Mexico. There would be a no-quarter race war, with summary execution of all white males over the age of sixteen. The revolution was to begin on February 20, 1915. Federal and state officials found a copy of the plan when local authorities in McAllen, Texas, arrested Basilio Ramos, Jr., one of the leaders of the plot, on January 24, 1915.

The arrival of February 20 produced only another revolutionary manifesto, rather than the promised insurrection. Similar to the original plan, this second Plan of San Diego emphasized the “liberation” of the proletariat and focused on Texas, where a “social republic” would be established to serve as a base for spreading the revolution throughout the southwestern United States. Indians were also to be enlisted in the cause. But with no signs of revolutionary activity, state and federal authorities dismissed the plan as one more example of the revolutionary rhetoric that flourished along the border. This feeling of complacency was shattered in July 1915 with a series of raids in the lower Rio Grande valley connected with the Plan of San Diego. These raids were led by two adherents of Venustiano Carranza, revolutionary general, and Aniceto Pizaña and Luis De la Rosa,qv residents of South Texas. The bands used the guerilla tactics of disrupting transportation and communication in the border area and killing Anglos. In response, the United States Army moved reinforcements into the area.

A third version of the plan called for the foundation of a “Republic of Texas” to be made up of Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona, and parts of Mississippi and Oklahoma. San Antonio, Texas, was to serve as revolutionary headquarters, and the movement’s leadership continued to come from South Texas. Raids originated on both sides of the Rio Grande, eventually assuming a pattern of guerilla warfare. Raids from the Mexican side came from territory under the control of Carranza, whose officers were accused of supporting the raiders. When the United States recognized Carranza as president of Mexico in October 1915, the raids came to an abrupt halt. Relations between the United States and Carranza quickly turned sour, however, amid growing violence along the border. When forces under another revolutionary general, Francisco (Pancho) Villa,qv attacked Columbus, New Mexico, in March 1916, the United States responded by sending a large military force under Gen. John J. Pershingqv into northern Mexico in pursuit of Villa. When the United States rejected Carranza’s demands to withdraw Pershing’s troops, fear of a military conflict between the United States and Mexico grew. In this volatile context, there was a renewal of raiding under the Plan of San Diego in May 1916. Mexican officials were even considering the possibility of combining the San Diego raiders with regular Mexican forces in an attack on Laredo. In late June, Mexican and United States officials agreed to a peaceful settlement of differences, and raids under the Plan of San Diego came to a halt.

The Plan of San Diego and the raids that accompanied it were originally attributed to the supporters of the ousted Mexican dictator Gen. Victoriano Huerta,qv who had been overthrown by Carranza in 1914. The evidence indicates, however, that the raids were carried out by followers of Carranza, who manipulated the movement in an effort to influence relations with the United States. Fatalities directly linked to the raids were surprisingly small; between July 1915 and July 1916 some thirty raids into Texas produced only twenty-one American deaths, both civilian and military. More destructive and disruptive was the near race war that ensued in the wake of the plan as relations between the whites and the Mexicans and Mexican Americans deteriorated in 1915-16. Federal reports indicated that more than 300 Mexicans or Mexican Americans were summarily executed in South Texas in the atmosphere generated by the plan. Economic losses ran into the millions of dollars, and virtually all residents of the lower Rio Grande valley suffered some disruption in their lives from the raids. Moreover, the plan’s legacy of racial antagonism endured long after the plan itself had been forgotten.

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As many as 20 students were involved. She was spit on and assaulted by male Hispanic students. They threatened to rape her, stab her, and kill her. The school staff ordered her to return to class and she not allowed to phone her parents.

KLTV

Melanie Bowers, 13, and her parents walked into Athens High School Monday afternoon to talk to campus police. They were hoping to get some answers.

“It never should have happened in the first place. The whole assignment was a silly assignment and they should have contacted us immediately after it happened,” said J.R. Bowers, Melanie’s father.

It was an assignment for history class–to make a protest sign for or against an issue, and Melanie said she chose illegal immigration. Her sign read, “If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration.” Somehow, Melanie said the sign got passed around lunch and angered a group of Latino students.

“I didn’t know any of these people,” she said. One young, she claimed, jumped on her back and he put her in a choke hold. “We have brick walls in the middle school and he slammed my face on the bricks.”

Melanie said a group of boys also threatened to rape and kill her. Eventually, the boys let her go and when she went for help, she was ordered back to class, and told she could not call her parents, she said.

“They handled this wrong, you know, they put a child back in danger,” said J.R. Bowers. “It was a very racially motivated crime.”

Athens ISD gave KLTV 7 a statement, confirming there was a disturbance in the hallway, Friday between two to three students. “We have a camera system in the building,” said Louis DeRosa. “We are collecting other information and statements from witnesses and this is all the information we have at this time,” he said.

Melanie and her parents said they just hope the right thing is done…and quickly.

“I won’t be happy until the kids that did this are out of school,” Bowers said.

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You’re supposed to deport them, not rape them, dummy!

Officer.com

MIAMI — A former immigration agent pleaded guilty to raping a Jamaican woman he was transferring between detention centers, authorities said Thursday.

Wilfredo Vazquez, 35, sexually assaulted a 39-year-old Jamaican mother of two on Sept. 21 at his home in Tamarac. He was fired from his position as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent shortly after the initial complaint was lodged against him, ICE officials said.

“A law enforcement badge is a privilege; we will not tolerate its misuse as a key to assert power or unlawful force over those in one’s custody,” U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta said in a statement.

Federal authorities said they are investigating Vazquez’s involvement in other detainee transfers to see whether other women were attacked.

Lawyers for Vazquez could not be reached for comment. The U.S. attorney’s office did not respond to inquiries about who was representing him.

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