Saturday, December 10, 2016

Drug Trafficking

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Indian Reservation

Update: a few hours after we posted this story, Border Patrol officials in Arizona reported that the road has been reopened.

An Indian reservation along the Mexican border is prohibiting the Border Patrol from entering its land, which is a notorious smuggling corridor determined by the U.S. government to be a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).”

Homeland Security sources tell Judicial Watch that the road in the southeast corner of the reservation has been cordoned off by a barbed wired gate to keep officers out. A hand-written cardboard sign reading “Closed, Do Not Open” has been posted on the fence. “This is the location used most for trafficking drugs into the country,” a Border Patrol source told JW, adding that agents assigned to the area are “livid.”

The tribe, Tohono O’odham, created the barricade a few weeks ago, Border Patrol sources tell JW, specifically to keep agents out of the reservation which is located in the south central Arizona Sonoran Desert and shares about 75 miles of border with Mexico.

The reservation terrain consists largely of mountains and desert making it difficult to patrol. For years it has appeared on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) HIDTA list because it’s a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation and distribution.

The reservation is a primary transshipment zone for methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana destined for the United States, a DEA official revealed in congressional testimony a few years ago. In 2015 Arizona led all four Border Patrol sectors in drug seizures with 928,858 pounds of drugs confiscated, according to agency figures.

The relationship between the Border Patrol and the tribe has been stormy over the years, with accusations of human rights violations by federal agents and allegations that the agents’ presence has implemented a police state. Though only 75 miles runs along the Mexican border, the reservation is about 2.8 million acres or roughly the size of Connecticut and has about 30,000 members.

The tribe’s official website says that nine of its communities are located in Mexico and they are separated by the United States/Mexico border. “In fact, the U.S.-Mexico border has become an artificial barrier to the freedom of the Tohono O’odham,” the tribe claims. “On countless occasions, the U.S. Border Patrol has detained and deported members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who were simply traveling through their own traditional lands, practicing migratory traditions essential to their religion, economy and culture. Similarly, on many occasions U.S. Customs have prevented Tohono O’odham from transporting raw materials and goods essential for their spirituality, economy and traditional culture. Border officials are also reported to have confiscated cultural and religious items, such as feathers of common birds, pine leaves or sweet grass.”

A New York Times story published years ago explained that tightening of border security to the east and west after the 9/11 terrorist attacks funneled more drug traffic through the Tohono O’odham reservation. This created a need for more Border Patrol officers to be deployed to the crime-infested area.

The article also revealed that tribe members are complicit in the trafficking business. “Hundreds of tribal members have been prosecuted in federal, state or tribal courts for smuggling drugs or humans, taking offers that reach $5,000 for storing marijuana or transporting it across the reservation,” the article states. “In a few families, both parents have been sent to prison, leaving grandparents to raise the children.” The drug smugglers work mainly for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, the piece revealed.

Nevertheless, federal officers have been told by Homeland Security superiors that they can’t cut the new wire fence obstacle to access the reservation even though it sits in the Border Patrol’s busiest drug sector. Perhaps the U.S. government can use money to force compliance. The Tohono O’odham recently got a huge chunk of change from Uncle Sam, $2.75 million, to build single-family homes for its largely poor tribe members.

Maybe the feds can withhold future allocations for the tribe’s various projects until it allows Border Patrol officers to do their job. In the meantime, a veteran Arizona law enforcement officer who’s worked in the region for decades says “a little wire and a small gate can cause huge security problems.”

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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handbags

While hordes of illegal immigrants, drugs and criminal elements slip into the United States through the porous Mexican border, the government agency that’s failing miserably to secure the area celebrates an “aggressive enforcement” program that confiscates imitation name-brand handbags, sunglasses, apparel and jewelry.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency, Customs and Border Protection (CPB), charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. is patting itself on the back this month for tackling pirated goods. CBP is the frontline agency responsible for keeping the nation safe by securing ports of entry from unauthorized foreign nationals and seizing illicit drugs or threatening materials. With a workforce of about 60,000 the agency is nevertheless overwhelmed in the increasingly violent, 2,000-mile southern border region.

Criminals, Islamic terrorists, illegal aliens and tons of narcotics slip through CBP—which includes the Border Patrol—annually but the agency is on its game when it comes to those who try to sell fake Ray Bans and Gucci purses in the U.S. Americans can sleep soundly now. In 2014 CBP made $1.2 billion in seizures of counterfeit products. This includes footwear, electronics, toys, and other accessories. It’s the result of “an aggressive enforcement program to protect the United States from counterfeit and pirated goods,” according to an agency announcement with a detailed report attached to it. This includes around $375 million in imitation designer jewelry, $1.6 million in counterfeit sunglasses and more than $1 million in fake soccer club apparel.

Most of the goods come from China, according to CBP Commissioner R Gil Kerlikowske, who claims that “protecting intellectual property rights is a critical part of CBP’s trade enforcement mission and critical to protecting American consumers.” He explained how strong partnerships with other federal agencies and frontline interceptions of cargo at America’s ports of entry produced more than 23,000 seizures of fake products worth an estimated $1.2 billion. Had the pirated merchandise made it through it “could have cheated or threatened the health of American consumers,” according to Commissioner Kerlikowske, who failed to provide further details on how the public could possibly be threatened or hurt by fake designer merchandise. However, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Sara Saldaña, assured that “counterfeiting is a crime of global proportions.”

Serious as this may sound to some, others might consider it a better use of CPB’s resources to guard against illegal immigrants, drugs and other threats along the famously crime-infested Mexican border. Just this week a Washington D.C. newspaper reports that more than 3,000 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children—mostly from Central America—surged across the southern border last month alone. It’s not just kids making it in. Illegal alien adults are also crossing the border and the Obama administration is allowing them to stay as “family units.” Even the youths who have entered the U.S. recently imported serious diseases—including swine flu, dengue fever and tuberculosis—and a number of them have violent histories and ties to deadly gangs.

For years Judicial Watch has reported on the criminal elements that cross into the country through Mexico and later commit atrocious crimes in the U.S. This includes murderous drunk-drivers, child abusers and violent street gangs with operations throughout the nation. Just a few weeks ago the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) published an alarming report on these immigrant gangs, which present a significant public safety threat and have taken over entire areas of major states like California, Texas and Florida.

A few years ago JW wrote about a federal court case that outlines how Mexican drug cartels have teamed up with violent street gangs to operate inside the U.S. The case involved dozens of members of the Barrio Azteca gang charged with operating a massive drug-trafficking and money-laundering enterprise. Charges ranged from murder, racketeering, money-laundering, obstruction of justice and drug offenses. According to documents obtained by JW from the Department of Justice (DOJ) members and associates of the Barrio Azteca for years engaged in a host of criminal activity, including kidnapping, extortion and drug trafficking. The gang makes money by importing heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the United States from Mexico, according to the DOJ. That means these criminal enterprises are crossing back and forth through a porous border while the agency responsible for guarding it is preoccupied busting Chinese makers of fake designer handbags and sunglasses.

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