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Tag: california

Border Patrol Agent Struck by Suspected Drunken Driver Along Checkpoint in California

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

A suspected drunken driver struck a Border Patrol agent at a freeway checkpoint in southern California early Monday morning. 

The Mini Cooper was traveling about 60 mph at about 2:30 a.m. when it hit the agent, who was working the checkpoint with “all the lanes lit up and traffic cone pattern set up” on I-15 near Rainbow Valley Boulevard, California Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Lassig said, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The agent had major injuries and was rushed to the hospital, where he was in stable condition, Lassig said. 

The 30-year-old driver continued driving after hitting the agent before pulling over less than a mile down the freeway, Lassig said.

The driver, of San Bernardino, was arrested and faces charge of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run. 

Man Found Dead by Neighbor Was a Most Wanted Fugitive

Most wanted fugitive Frederick Cecil McLean. Photo: U.S. Marshals Service

By Steve Neavling

For 16 years, Frederick Cecil McLean had evaded capture while on the U.S. Marshals Service’ Most Wanted List. 

Then a resident in a small South Carolina town checked on her elderly neighbor earlier this month and discovered his decomposing body inside his home. 

That neighbor was McLean, who was wanted on child molestation charges in San Diego County. He was living under an alias. 

“The discovery of Frederick McLean’s body marks an end to the manhunt, but the investigation continues,” U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis said in a statement. “I want to personally thank the men and women of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the Oconee County Coroner’s Office who dedicated hundreds of man hours helping the Marshals identify the body and gather evidence allowing us to gain a better picture of McLean’s life as a fugitive.

During an autopsy on Nov. 15, the fingerprints on the body matched McLean’s. 

No foul play was suspected in his death. 

McLean, 70, was wanted on multiple counts of sexual assault on child and was considered a high risk for sexually assaulting young girls. One of the victims alleged McLean assaulted her more than 100 times over a seven-year period beginning when she was 5 years old.

“We wish McLean’s fate had been determined by a court of law 15 years ago,” U.S. Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California said. “The investigators working on this case never gave up. We hope McLean’s death brings some sense of closure for the victims and their families, especially knowing he can never hurt another child.”


FBI Refutes Claims That Zodiac Killer’s Identity Has Been Revealed

Zodiac Killer via FBI

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is disputing claims by an independent group of cold case investigators that they have identified the notorious Zodiac Killer. 

The Case Breakers made the claim in a press release this week, identifying the serial killer as Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018.

But the FBI told the Washington Examiner that case “remains open,” and there is no new information to share with the public. 

The Zodiac Killer murdered at least five people in the Bay Area in California in 1968 and 1969.

In December 2020, the FBI said it had cracked a coded message from the killer, but it didn’t reveal any obvious clues about the killer’s identity.

The Case Breakers based their claims on matching “head scars” and forensic evidence found at the murder scene of one of the victims. 

Border Patrol Agent Discover Nearly 30 Pounds of Heroin, Meth inside Car Tires

Border Patrol agents found drugs inside the tires of a car. Photo: CBP.

By Steve Neavling

Border Patrol agents in Southern California found nearly 30 pounds of heroin and meth inside the tires of a car. 

Agents from the San Diego Sector pulled over a “suspicious” Dodge Charter at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 15 in Temecula and received permission from the driver to perform a canine search, CBP said in a news release. The dog alerted agents to the wheels of the car. 

The agents sought help from a mechanic to search the tires. After one of the tires was removed from the wheel, agents discovered a compartment bolted to the wheel. They cut open the compartment and found several packages of drugs. 

After the remaining tires were removed, a total 12 packages of drugs were found. Eight of them contained more than 19 pounds of meth. Ten pounds of heroin were in the other packages. 

“These substances de-stabilize our communities by fueling addiction and ruining lives,”  Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said in a statement.  “I’m proud of our agents’ continued efforts to interdict these smuggling attempts and protect our nation.”

‘Heroic’ Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Thwarts Carjacking, Assault of Pastor

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

An-off duty Border Patrol agent from the El Centro Sector helped thwart a carjacking over the weekend in what the agency called a “heroic act.”

Roy Rosas was on his way to work when he spotted a 24-year-old man attacking a local church pastor as he tried to steal the victim’s car in Westmorland, Calif., on Sunday afternoon.

The agent and a private citizen intervened, and a scuffle ensued with the perpetrator. The two men managed to detain the suspect until police arrived. 

The assailant was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries and later released before being booked into a county jail. 

“As sworn officers, Border Patrol agents risk their lives every day both on and off-duty,” Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino said in a news release Thursday. “Agent Rosas actions demonstrated just that and brought great credit upon himself and the U.S. Border Patrol.”   

Earlier this month, an off-duty Border Patrol agent in San Diego detained a man who was slashing a knife through the air while approaching bystanders.

San Jose Shooter told CBP in 2016 That He Hated His Job

By Steve Neavling

The man who killed nine people in a shooting in San Jose, Calif., told U.S. Customs officers in 2016 that he hated his workplace, according to a Homeland Security memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

Customs officers detained Samuel James Cassidy, 57, after a trip to the Philippines, the memo says. 

Cassidy possessed “books about terrorism and fear and manifestos…as well as a black memo book filled with lots of notes about how he hates the VTA,” the memo says, referring to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, where Cassidy previously worked. 

“When asked if he had problems with anybody at work, he stated ‘no,’” according to the memo. 

The DHS distributed the memo internally after the shooting Wednesday. 

It’s not clear how long Cassidy was in custody. 

Cassidy opened fire at a union meeting at a VTA light-rail yard in downtown San Jose. He later died in an apparent suicide. 

Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. Customs and Protection, wouldn’t comment on the memo because the shooting is still under investigation. 

Police still have not determined a motive.

His ex-wife said Cassidy was often angry about his job and even talked about killing co-workers more than a decade ago.

Border Patrol Agent Laid to Rest in California After He Was Struck with Car

Funeral services for fallen Border Patrol Agent Alejandro. Flores-Bañuelos

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent killed while trying to help a motorist in Southern California on March 15 was laid to rest this week. 

Law enforcement officials said goodbye to Alejandro Flores-Bañuelos, of the El Centro Sector, at services held Tuesday at Riverside National Cemetery Amphitheater.  

Flores-Bañuelos, 35, was called to a report of a collision on state Route 86 near Salton City. When he arrived, he began helping a 75-year-old woman whose car had become disabled in the road during a dust storm. A car stuck both the agent and the woman’s car. 

Alejandro Flores-Bañuelos (courtesy of Border Patrol)

Flores-Bañuelos, who was assigned to the Indio Station, was pronounced dead at Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley. 

Flores-Bañuelos left behind a wife and three children. 

Before joining Border Patrol, Flores-Bañuelos served in the U.S. Marine Corps. 

“Yesterday was a difficult day for El Centro Sector as we laid our brother to rest,” the El Centro Sector posted on Facebook.

“With heavy hearts we heard our dispatch call his star number, India-203, for a safety check one more time.  A call he will no longer be able to answer. We watched his horse pass by without his rider, leaving behind indelible sadness, yet grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside him.”

CBP Officer Charged with Excessive Force, Faces Up to 10 Years in Prison

CBP officer (Photo: CBP via Twitter)

By Steve Neavling

A Customs and Border Protection officer from the Calexico office has been charged with using unreasonable force on a person seeking admission into the U.S. from Mexico. 

Officer Marcos Valenzuela, 29, of El Centro, Calif., injured the unidentified person while on duty at the Calexico West Port of Entry in August 2019, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday. 

“The protection of the civil rights of all persons entering the United States remains a high priority of the Justice Department, and our office in particular,” Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman said in a news release. “All allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers are investigated thoroughly and carefully reviewed to ensure public confidence in our commitment to redressing violations of Constitutional rights.” 

Details of the allegations weren’t immediately clear. 

“No one is above the law and this indictment should assure the public that the FBI is committed to rooting out any public servant who violates their oath – regardless of where they work,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner said. “Actions such as the ones alleged in this case violate an officer’s oath, the public’s trust, and damage law enforcement’s reputation. I want to thank Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility for their collaboration and partnership in bringing this case to fruition.”

Valenzuela, who faces up to 10 years in prison, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court for a motion hearing on May 21. 

“All CBP employees are required and expected to abide by all laws they enforce,” CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth Cervantes said. “CBP stresses professionalism, honor, and integrity in every aspect of its mission and CBP OPR is fully committed to investigating all allegations of misconduct while supporting the men and women who proudly uphold their duties to serve and protect.”