Cartels threaten to kill Texas Rangers, ICE agents

A new law enforcement bulletin warns that members of drug cartels have been overheard plotting to kill federal agents and Texas Rangers who guard the border, officials in Washington reported Thursday.

The bulletin, which was issued in March, said cartel members planned to use AK-47 assault rifles to shoot agents and Rangers from across the border. It did not name the cartels.

The information was released at a hearing before a panel of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management addressed “The U.S. Homeland Security Role in the Mexican War Against the Drug Cartels.”

U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, talked briefly about the bulletin at the hearing. He said this and other findings he cited “are acts of terrorism as defined by law. The shooting of Special Agent Zapata and Avila is a game changer, which alters the landscape of United State’s involvement in Mexico’s war against drug cartels.”

He was referring to Jaime Jorge Zapata, 32, a Brownsville native and special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who was killed on Feb. 15 while on duty in Mexico. Injured in the same attack was Special Agent Victor Avila. Members of the Zetas criminal organization are suspected in the attack.

Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Thursday in a statement: “DPS constantly keeps our officers and our law enforcement partners informed of any intelligence that suggests possible threats to their safety. However, we cannot comment on specific law enforcement bulletins.”

In a response to the threats, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we routinely share information that could impact our frontline personnel in order to ensure that they are aware of any and all threats.”

The news comes at time when ICE reportedly is having a difficult time recruiting agents willing to work in Mexico, said Luis Alvarez, assistant director for ICE International Affairs, who testified at the hearing.

Read more here.

DREAM Act punishes law-abiding Maryland taxpayers

Maryland is facing a staggering $2 billion budget shortfall, but even that’s not enough to prevent members of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly from pushing for yet another pricey entitlement for illegal immigrants. Maryland’s version of the failed federal DREAM Act creates a loophole to a 1996 federal law that requires illegal immigrants to pay out-of-state rates at public post-secondary institutions. The federal law explicitly states that reducing the financial incentives to enter the United States illegally is a compelling government interest, but it is obviously not being enforced.

The only purpose of having lower in-state tuition rates is to give resident taxpayers who pay for public institutions of higher learning a break when their own children are ready to attend college. But Maryland legislators want to turn this laudable policy goal on its ear. If they grant in-state tuition to nonlegal residents, those same taxpayers will be forced to pay more for their own children’s education, not less.

Maryland’s Department of Legislative Services estimates that the DREAM Act would cost state taxpayers $3.5 million by fiscal 2016. But this does not include the thousands of legal residents who will not be admitted to Maryland schools at in-state rates because illegals, who generally qualify for twice the financial aid as the general student population, will be taking their seats.

In just three years, Montgomery Community Colleges failed to collect almost $6 million from students who, by virtue of their illegal status, were not eligible for in-state tuition. MCC routinely violates state and federal law when it accepts undocumented students at the in-state rate, which is approximately a third of what out-of-state American citizens and legal immigrants are charged.

State Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, one of 18 sponsors of the bill, readily concedes that a large number of all high school students graduating in Maryland over the next 20 years “are going to be undocumented.” But instead of changing Maryland’s disastrous sanctuary policies, which have had their intended effect and nearly bankrupted the state, Madaleno and his Democratic colleagues want to extend them even more.

A similar bill passed in 2003 was wisely vetoed by then Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., but Gov. Martin O’Malley is unlikely to follow his predecessor’s lead even though Maryland can’t pay its current bills, let alone afford another taxpayer subsidy for illegal immigrants at the expense of legal immigrants and U.S. citizens. And it’s simply not right to punish people for obeying th

Mexican Hypocrisy

During all of the furor over Arizona’s SB1070 immigration enforcement law last spring, one of the most egregious attacks on the sovereignty of the border state came in the form of a highly inappropriate and insulting speech by Mexican President Calderó n before the U.S. Congress.

As the Democrat dominated chamber applauded the attack on Arizona, our hapless commander in chief and his constitutionally challenged attorney general were threatening legal action despite having not taken the time to have read the 10 page bill.

Comparisons were made to Nazi Germany and liberals expressed outrage over the mere thought that Arizona police officers would be demanding to see the papers of anyone who appeared to be Hispanic. Naturally the new law (which mirrors federal statutes) included appropriate constitutional protections and did not allow for the indiscriminate checking of papers, but never-the-less the Democrats and their fellow travelers in the MSM pressed their agenda driven attack and legal action from the federal government is still ongoing.

Fast forward nine months. The UK Telegraph reports that the Mexican government of President Calderó n is instituting a high-tech new I.D. system which will be in place by 2013. The new cards which will include an iris scan, fingerprints, photo and signature are said to be 99% reliable.

“The legal, technical and financial conditions are ready to start the process of issuing this identity document,” Felipe Zamora, responsible for legal affairs at the Mexican Interior Ministry, told journalists Thursday.

The new system will be implemented gradually beginning with children over the next two years and then the adult population by 2013. The system will help the Mexican authorities to keep track of their citizens and should help Mexico to secure its borders against illegal immigration. The cost of the project is estimated to carry a price tag of $25 million.

Human rights advocates have expressed concern that the new system will be used for the gathering of personal information which could be used to violate individual rights and privacy. In the meantime it will be interesting to see if the Mexican government, which has published guide books on how to illegally cross the border and elude the authorities in the United States will warn its citizens not to show their I.D. cards to the gringos in Arizona (or elsewhere).

About those decapitations in the Arizona desert

By: Joan Neuhas Schaan

With some concern and disbelief, I have been astounded at the lack of understanding of the severity of the situation in Mexico and the possibility that it has crossed the border.

Last week, Dana Milbank of The Washington Post severely ridiculed reports from Arizona of decapitated heads found in the desert. This comment was made within a day or two of the discovery of two decapitated bodies in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, just south of El Paso, Texas.

While I cannot comment on the veracity of specific reports of headless bodies in the Arizona desert, the occurrence of headless bodies in Mexico has been epidemic. It is only a matter of time until the phenomenon is regularly encountered in the U.S.

Let me suggest the general public familiarize themselves with press reports since the first of this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the decapitation incidents, as many, if not most, incidents do not go reported.

* July 6, 2010: Two decapitate bodies found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua.
* Junue 30, 2010: A severed head was found on the doorstep of Ciudad Juarez mayoral candidate Hector Murguia. (Wall Street Journal)

* June 16, 2010: A police officer is found decapitated in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon. (Expresion Libre)

* June 2, 2010: Six human heads found in two Durango cities, Lerdo and Gomez Palacio. (EFE)

* May 10, 2010: Two decapitated bodies found in Cancun. (El Universal)

* May 4, 2010: Three decapitated bodies found in Costa Chica region, Guerrero. (Proceso.)

* April 12, 2010: Dismembered body found in Cuernavaca. (El Universal)

* April 11, 2010: Decapitated body found on Morelos highway between Cuernavaca and Acapulco. (El Universal)

* April 9, 2010: Report on December 2009 Reynosa dismemberment. (The Washington Times)

* April 3, 2010: Decapitated body of a female found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua. (El Diario Chihuahua.) Spring 2010: Police Chief of Aguascalientes, Nuevo Leon found decapitated.

* March 25, 2010: Decapitation victim found at shopping center in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. (El Agora de Chihuahua)
* March 22, 2010: Two dismembered bodies found in Acapulco. (Reforma)

* March 10, 2010: Police find five heads in ice coolers in Guadalajara, Jalisco. (BBC News)

* Janaury 28, 2010: A head is found in an ice cooler in Quiroga, Michoacan.

* January 25, 2010: Decapitated head found on grave in Altamira, Tamaulipas. (El Universal)

Read more here.

21 killed in shootout between drug, migrant trafficking gangs near Arizona border

HERMOSILLO, Mexico (AP) — A massive gun battle between rival drug and migrant trafficking gangs near the U.S. border Thursday left 21 people dead and at least six others wounded, prosecutors said.

The fire fight occurred in a sparsely populated area about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Arizona border, near the city of Nogales, that is considered a prime corridor for immigrant and drug smuggling.

The Sonora state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that nine people were captured by police at the scene of the shootings, six of whom had been wounded in the confrontation. Eight vehicles and seven weapons were also seized.

All of the victims were believed to be members of the gangs.

The shootings occurred near a dirt road between the hamlets of Tubutama and Saric, in an area often used by traffickers.

Gangs often fight for control of trafficking routes and sometimes steal “shipments” of undocumented migrants from each other, but seldom have they staged such mass gun battles.

Gang violence near the Arizona border has led to calls from officials in the U.S. state for greater control of the border and is one reason given for a controversial law passed in April requiring Arizona police to ask people about their immigration status in certain situations.

In a city on another part of the U.S. border, gunmen killed an assistant attorney general for Chihuahua state and one of her bodyguards.

After being chased by armed assailants through the darkened streets of Ciudad Juarez, the vehicle carrying Sandra Salas Garcia and two bodyguards was riddled with bullets Wednesday night.

Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said the second bodyguard was seriously wounded.

Salas was responsible for evaluating the work of prosecutors and special investigations units in Chihuahua.

Drug violence has killed more than 4,300 people in recent years in Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.

More than 23,000 people have been killed by drug violence since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon began deploying thousands of troops and federal police to drug hot spots.

In her own words: Gov. Jan Brewer on Mexico joining lawsuit against Arizona’s illegal immigrant law

Full text of Gov. Jan Brewer statement on Mexico, as provided by her office

I am very disappointed that the national government of our neighbors and friends to the south has chosen to file a brief in federal court that distorts the truth about Arizona and the United States.

Despite false assertions and factual inaccuracies expressed by the country of Mexico in their recent brief filed in U.S. federal court, Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws are both reasonable and….

…constitutional. They mirror what has been federal law in the United States for many decades, and they have built-in and clear protections for civil rights.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Mexico president Felipe Calderon

The United States was formed as a nation of laws, and not of men. Arizonans are some of the most hospitable and generous people in the world, and we welcome visitors to share our incomparable natural beauty.

Our cultures and our trade are intertwined, and so must be our respect for the rule of law.

We refuse to accept that the United States government is unable to protect its citizens against a relentless and daily barrage of narco-terrorist drug and human smugglers. We will enforce, respect, and defend the laws of our land, including our laws that prosecute discrimination. We have taken additional steps to update training for our officers to legally enforce our new laws and to specifically prevent illegal racial profiling.

I will continue to fight tirelessly to protect the citizens of Arizona, and to defend Arizonans in federal court. I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail and that our laws will be found constitutional.

Mexico Joins Suit Against Arizona’s Immigration

Mexico on Tuesday asked a federal court in Arizona to declare the state’s new immigration law unconstitutional, arguing that the country’s own interests and its citizens’ rights are at stake.

Lawyers for Mexico on Tuesday submitted a legal brief in support of one of five lawsuits challenging the law. The law will take effect July 29 unless implementation is blocked by a court.

The law generally requires police investigating another incident or crime to ask people about their immigration status if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” they’re in the country illegally. It also makes being in Arizona illegally a misdemeanor, and it prohibits seeking day-labor work along the state’s streets.

Until recently, Mexican law made illegal immigration a criminal offense — anyone arrested for the violation could be fined, imprisoned for up to two years and deported. Mexican lawmakers changed that in 2008 to make illegal immigration a civil violation like it is in the United States, but their law still reads an awful lot like Arizona’s.

Arizona’s policy, which President Felipe Calderon derided during a recent U.S. trip as “discriminatory,” states police can’t randomly stop people and demand papers, and the law prohibits racial profiling.

Mexican law, however, requires law enforcement officials “to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country before attending to any issues.”

Amnesty International recently issued a report claiming illegal immigrants in Mexico — typically from Central America — face abuse, rape and kidnappings, and that Mexican police do little to stop it. When illegal immigration was a criminal offense in Mexico, officials were known to seek bribes from suspects to keep them out of jail.

But Mexico said it has a legitimate interest in defending its citizens’ rights and that Arizona’s law would lead to racial profiling, hinder trade and tourism, and strain the countries’ work on combating drug trafficking and related violence.

Citing “grave concerns,” Mexico said its interest in having predictable, consistent relations with the United States shouldn’t be frustrated by one state.

“Mexican citizens will be afraid to visit Arizona for work or pleasure out of concern that they will be subject to unlawful police scrutiny and detention,” the brief said.

It will be up to a U.S. District Court judge to decide whether to accept the brief along with similar ones submitted by various U.S. organizations.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the law on April 23 and changes to it on April 30, has lawyers defending it in court.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Brewer said she was “very disappointed” to learn of Mexico’s filing and reiterated that “Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws are both reasonable and constitutional.”

“I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail and that our laws will be found constitutional,” Brewer added.

Brewer and other supporters of the bill say the law is intended to pressure illegal immigrants to leave the United States. They contend it is a needed response to federal inaction over what they say is a porous border and social problems caused by illegal immigration. They also argue that it has protections against racial profiling.

Mexican officials previously had voiced opposition to the Arizona law, with Calderon saying June 8 that the law “opens a Pandora’s box of the worst abuses in the history of humanity” by promoting racial profiling and potentially leading to an authoritarian society

U.S. officials have said the Obama administration has serious concerns about the law and may challenge it in court. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton recently went further by saying a lawsuit is planned.

Mexican Gangs Maintain Permanent Lookout Bases in Hills of Arizona

By Adam Housley

Mexican drug cartels have set up shop on American soil, maintaining lookout bases in strategic locations in the hills of southern Arizona from which their scouts can monitor every move made by law enforcement officials, federal agents tell Fox News.

The scouts are supplied by drivers who bring them food, water, batteries for radios — all the items they need to stay in the wilderness for a long time

“To say that this area is out of control is an understatement,” said an agent who patrols the area and asked not to be named. “We (federal border agents), as well as the Pima County Sheriff Office and the Bureau of Land Management, can attest to that.”

Much of the drug traffic originates in the Menagers Dam area, the Vekol Valley, Stanfield and around the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. It even follows a natural gas pipeline that runs from Mexico into Arizona.

In these areas, which are south and west of Tucson, sources said there are “cartel scouts galore” watching the movements of federal, state and local law enforcement, from the border all the way up to Interstate 8.

“Every night we’re getting beaten like a pinata at a birthday party by drug, alien smugglers,” a second federal agent told Fox News by e-mail. “The danger is out there, with all the weapons being found coming northbound…. someone needs to know about this!”

The agents blame part of their plight on new policies from Washington, claiming it has put a majority of the U.S. agents on the border itself. One agent compared it to a short-yardage defense in football, explaining that once the smugglers and drug-runners break through the front line, they’re home free.

“We are unable to work any traffic, because they have us forward deployed,” the agent said. “We are unable to work the traffic coming out of the mountains. That traffic usually carries weapons and dope, too, again always using stolen vehicles.”

The Department of Homeland Security denies it has ordered any major change in operations or any sort of change in forward deployment.

“The Department of Homeland Security has dedicated unprecedented manpower, technology and infrastructure resources to the Southwest border over the course of the past 16 months,” DHS spokesman Matt Chandler said. “Deployment of CBP/Border Patrol and ICE personnel to various locations throughout the Southwest border is based on actionable intelligence and operational need, not which elected official can yell the loudest.”

While agents in the area agree that southwest Arizona has been a trouble spot for more than a decade, many believe Washington and politicians “who come here for one-day visit” aren’t seeing the big picture.

They say the area has never been controlled and has suddenly gotten worse, with the cartels maintaining a strong presence on U.S. soil. More than ever, agents on the front lines are wearing tactical gear, including helmets, to protect themselves.

“More than 4,000 of these agents are deployed in Arizona,” Chandler says. “The strategy to secure our nation’s borders is based on a ‘defense in depth’ philosophy, including the use of interior checkpoints, like the one on FR 85 outside Ajo, to interdict threats attempting to move from the border into the interior of our nation.”

Without placing direct fault on anyone, multiple agents told Fox that the situation is more dangerous for them than ever now that the cartels have such a strong position on the American side of the border.

They say morale is down among many who patrol the desolate area, and they worry that the situation won’t change until an agent gets killed.

Uptick in Violence Forces Closing of Parkland Along Mexico Border to Americans

About 3,500 acres of southern Arizona have been closed off to U.S. citizens due to increased violence at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The closed off area includes part of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge that stretches along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told Fox News that violence against law enforcement officers and U.S. citizens has increased in the past four months, forcing officers on an 80 mile stretch of Arizona land north of the Mexico border off-limits to Americans.

The refuge had been adversely affected by the increase in drug smugglers, illegal activity and surveillance, which made it dangerous for Americans to visit.

“The situation in this zone has reached a point where continued public use of the area is not prudent,” said refuge manager Mitch Ellis.

“It’s literally out of control,” said Babeu. “We stood with Senator McCain and literally demanded support for 3,000 soldiers to be deployed to Arizona to get this under control and finally secure our border with Mexico. “

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have warned visitors in Arizona to beware of heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickers.

“We need support from the federal government. It’s their job to secure the border and they haven’t done it,” said Babeu. “In fact, President Obama suspended the construction of the fence and it’s just simply outrageous.”

Signs have been posted warning Americans not to cross into the closed off territory south of Interstate 8. Babeu said the signs are not enough – he said Arizona needs more resources to help scale back the violence caused by the drug cartels.

“We need action. It’s shameful that we, as the most powerful nation on Earth, … can’t even secure our own border and protect our own families.”

Mexico opens California office to provide ID for illegals

By: Sara A. Carter

The Mexican government is opening a satellite consular office on Catalina Island — a small resort off the California coast with a history of drug smuggling and human trafficking — to provide the island’s illegal Mexican immigrants with identification cards, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The Mexican consular office in Los Angeles issued a flier, a copy of which was obtained by The Examiner, listing the Catalina Island Country Club as the location of its satellite office. It invites Mexicans to visit the office to obtain the identification, called matricular cards, by appointment.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican whose district includes Catalina Island, said handing out matricular cards will exacerbate an already dangerous situation.

“Handing out matricular cards to Mexicans who are not in this country legally is wrong no matter where it’s done,” he said. “But on Catalina it will do more damage. It’s a small island but there’s evidence it’s being used as a portal for illegals to access mainland California.”

Rohrabacher added, “If there were a large number of Americans illegally in Mexico and the U.S. consulate was making it easier for them to stay, Mexico would never permit it.”

Mexican officials with the consular office in Los Angeles could not be reached immediately for comment. The matricular consular identification card, is issued by the Mexican government to Mexican nationals residing outside the country, regardless of immigration status. The purpose is to provide identification for opening bank accounts and obtaining other services. But the cards are usually used to skirt U.S. immigration laws, since Mexicans in the country legally have documents proving that status, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

In 2004 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI officials called the card an unreliable form of identification. The agency said that Mexico lacks a centralized database for them, which could lead to forgery, duplication, and other forms of abuse.

Officers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said their agency was asked by Mexican officials not to enforce U.S. immigration laws on the island while the cards were being issued.

“It amazes me every time that the Mexican government has the gall to tell us what to do,” said an ICE official, who asked not to be named. “More surprisingly is how many times we stand by and let them. This is just an example of one of hundreds of requests we’ve had to deal with.”

In April, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies seized a boat carrying large quantities of marijuana and detained three Mexican nationals who said they were being smuggled into the United States.

The island has a sizable Mexican migrant population. Most are undocumented low-income workers.