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Tag: El Paso

FBI Arrests Venezuelans Accused of Assaulting Border Patrol Agent

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

The FBI arrested two Venezuelan nationals who authorities say “pushed, dragged and punched” a Border Patrol agent, the bureau said Tuesday. 

The incident occurred when the agent was responding to a report about a group of undocumented migrants crossing into the U.S. near Ascarate Park in El Paso at about 6:45 a.m. on Oct. 31, according to the FBI’s El Paso Field Office. 

The pair resisted arrest and fought back when the agent tried to handcuff the two men. 

The men were identified as Kevin Escalona Gonzalez, 35, and Yuleixy Mata Fuentes, 27. 

The agent eventually overpowered the men and arrested them. 

“The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol work tirelessly to keep our borders safe,” Jeffrey R. Downey, special agent in charge of the El Paso Field Office, said. “Assaults on Border Patrol agents or any other federal agents/officers or task force officers will not be tolerated and will be addressed swiftly by our office so they can continue to carry out their sworn duty to protect our communities.”

The suspects are being held at the El Paso County Correctional Facility. 

Border Patrol Agents Acted in Self-Defense When They Fatally Shot Man in Custody, FBI Said

By Steve Neavling

An FBI investigation found that Border Patrol agents acted in self-defense when they killed a Mexican citizen after he advanced toward them with “an edged weapon” in the processing area of the agency’s El Paso station on Tuesday.

The bureau said Thursday that Manuel Gonzalez-Moran, a 33-year-old with a criminal history, was initially detained by agents while holding a metal pipe, The Washington Examiner reports.

Agents took him into custody and discovered that he was deported to Mexico five months ago after serving 11 years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon. 

At the station, Gonzalez-Moran “charged out of a holding cell” and “grabbed an edged weapon off a desk in the processing area,” the FBI said. 

“Agents provided verbal commands and attempted to gain control by utilizing non-deadly force methods, specifically taser, which was unsuccessful,” the FBI statement continued. “Agents continued providing verbal commands, however, Moran continued to advance upon them with the edged weapon at which time he was shot by Agents.”

Agents shot Gonzalez-Moran twice. He was pronounced dead at the Del Sol Hospital. 

70 Children Rescued by Multi-Agency Operation in Texas

Photo: ICE

By Steve Neavling

A multi-agency operation in Texas recovered 70 missing children in a three-week period, ICE announced Tuesday.

Operation Lost Souls was a joint effort involving Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, the Texas Department of Public Safety and numerous other federal, state and local agencies. 

The operation ran from the end of April through mid-May in western Texas. 

The recovered children ranged in age from 10 to 17, and most were runaways. Some were victims of sex trafficking, as well as physical and sexual abuse. 

“Operation Lost Souls exemplifies Homeland Security Investigations’ commitment to protecting the public from crimes of victimization. In this case, we are looking out for our children – our community’s most precious resource,” El Paso Deputy Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho said in a statement. “HSI is committed to continue working with our law enforcement partners to locate, recover and help missing children heal, while ensuring that perpetrators are held responsible for these heinous crimes and brought to justice.”

Authorities attributed the success to teamwork. 

“At the Department of Public Safety, teamwork is one of our core values,” DPS Major Matthew Mull said. “We are grateful for all of our law enforcement partners who participated in this operation and who work around-the-clock every day to protect our communities, including our youth.”

Anyone with information about human trafficking is asked to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.

Border Patrol K9 Retires After Career Sniffing Out Contraband, Rescuing Human Smuggling Victims

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

By any measure, this four-legged Border Patrol agent had a successful career. 

Since joining the agency in September 2015, K9 Agent Lady sniffed out 730 pounds of contraband and helped rescue more than 800 people from human smuggling attempts, KGNS-TV reports. 

Now the top dog is retiring. 

After going through the canine training center in El Paso, Lady was transferred to Freer, Texas, where she worked with Agent Andrew Nelson. 

Congratulations on a well-deserved retirement, Lady. 

CBP Seizes Contraband Pork Bologna at Texas Border on 2 Separate Occasions

Bologna seized by CBP. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

CBP has its eyes out for more than just drugs. 

This month, the agency seized 243 pounds of prohibited pork bologna at the Texas border in El Paso on two separate occasions. 

The contraband bologna was “seized and destroyed,” CBP said in a news release.

The lunch meat is banned from entering the U.S. because of its potential to spread foreign animal diseases into the country, CBP said. 

 “Pork products have the potential to introduce foreign animal diseases that can have devastating effects to the U.S. economy and to our agriculture industry,” CBP Director Field Operations Hector A. Mancha said. “We ask travelers to declare any items acquired abroad so we can prevent the introduction of potentially harmful products.”

In the first incident, a 40-year-old Albuquerque resident was busted trying to enter the U.S. with the pork at the Paso Del Norte crossing in El Paso on Jan. 13. Agriculture specialists discovered 55 pounds of bologna hidden in several locations, including under bags of chips. 

“The driver informed CBP Agriculture Specialists that he resells the bologna in the U.S. for almost double the price he pays for them in Mexico,” the news release said.

In the second case on Jan. 21, a 40-year-old resident of Colorado tried to enter the Yselta border crossing in El Paso without declaring meat products. During an inspection of the vehicle, agriculture specialists found 19 rolls of bologna weighing 188 pounds. 

Both suspects were fined $1,000 for failing to declare commercial quantities of bologna.  

Border Patrol Agents Shot at for Second Time in 4 Days Along Mexican Border

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating after Border Patrol agents appear to have come under fire early Monday for the second time in four days along the Juárez-El Paso border. 

An agent was patrolling the border when about five shots rang out from Juárez shortly after midnight, El Paso Times reports.

The agent wasn’t struck. 

Mexican authorities were searching for two suspects. 

Early Friday, about 20 gunshots were fired at a Border Patrol agent who was patrolling in El Paso’s Lower Valley. The agent took cover and wasn’t injured. 

“Approximately 20 rounds were fired towards the agent from approximately 150 yards away. Fortunately, none of the rounds struck the agent,” Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.

The FBI said it was investigating that shooting. 

Three weeks earlier, a narco-banner in Juárez warned Mexican police and Border Patrol to stop messing with human smugglers. It wasn’t immediately clear if the shootings are related to the banner’s threat.

Jeffrey R. Downey Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s El Paso Field Office

FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffery R. Downey

By Steve Neavling

Jeffery R. Downey, who was serving as a section chief for the Critical Incident Response Group for the FBI, has been named special agent in charge of the El Paso Field Office in Texas. 

Downey’s career as a special agent with the FBI began in 2003, when he was assigned to the Buffalo Field Office in New York. He was transferred to the Augusta Resident Agency of the Atlanta Field Office in 2006. In both field offices, Downey investigated violent crime, gang, criminal enterprise, and public corruption investigations. 

In 2007, Downey worked an 18-month assignment as a supervisory special agent in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., working on the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Fusion Center Task Force. 

In 2009, Downey moved to the Detroit Field Office, where he was promoted to supervisory special agent and put in charge of the Organized Crime Squad. A year later, he began supervising the office’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Squad. In 2013, Downey became the senior supervisory resident agent in charge of the Oakland County Resident Agency. 

In 2016, Downey was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit office, where he oversaw the criminal, crisis management, and mission services branches, which included specialty teams such as SWAT, the special agent bomb technicians, the crisis negotiators, and the Evidence Response Team. 

In 2020, Downey returned to FBI headquarters as section chief of CIRG’s Crisis Management and Intelligence Coordination Section. 

Before joining the bureau, Downey served as a special agent with the Secret Service. He earned a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University.  

Border Patrol Agent, Canine Handler Honored After Dying from COVID-19

Border Patrol Agent Freddie Vasquez. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent and canine handler who died from COVID-19 was honored Wednesday at a funeral Mass in Texas. 

Agent Freddie Vasquez, 43, was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator in February after authorities say he was infected with the coronavirus while on the job. The CBP determined he died in the line of duty.

“Today, we will lay to rest our friend and brother, Border Patrol Agent Freddie Vasquez,” El Paso Border Patrol Chief Gloria I. Chavez said in a tweet. “We will never forget the impact you have made on our lives, and we will honor your legacy always.  We will miss you Freddie.  Honor First.”

Vasquez, who worked for CBP for nearly 19 years, was given full honors at San Lorenzo Catholic Church in Clint, Texas. 

Vasquez is survived by a wife, three children, two brothers and both parents. 

Last month, his wife Inez Vasquez said she encouraged her husband to get vaccinated but he didn’t follow through. 

“I am left to wonder if he had obtained the vaccine, would he have been left like this, would it have been as severe?” Vasquez, 44, a registered nurse, told The San Diego Union.