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Tag: El Paso

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.

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Killed in Car Crash in Texas

Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent assigned to the Del Rio Sector was killed in a car crash Monday night in Texas.

Fernando Morales, 51, was driving a 2017 Volkswagen Passat on U.S. 277 near Del Rio when a 2016 Freightliner truck veered into oncoming traffic in a no-passing zone, KRQE reports.

“I am deeply saddened to inform you of the off duty death of Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin Skero tweeted Wednesday. “He is survived by his wife and four children. On behalf of our sector family, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues as we mourn his passing.”

Morales is a native of El Paso and graduated from Irvin High School.

Witnesses Offer Differing Account of Border Patrol Chase That Ended with 10 Dead in El Paso

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Some witnesses are contradicting Border Patrol’s claims that its agents stopped chasing a speeding vehicle that crashed and killed seven occupants in downtown El Paso on June 25.

Border Patrol officials said agents called off the pursuit because of the dangerous speed.

But witnesses told The Dallas Morning News that agents were still chasing the 2019 Chevrolet Cruze when it crashed into a parked trailer at 2:15 a.m. Two security guards said they saw the Border Patrol vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed with its headlights on and no sirens.

El Paso police are investigating.

“Was there a chase before the crash? Yes. Did it cause the crash? I don’t know,” Police spokesman Robert Gomez said.

At the time of the crash, 10 people were inside the car. Three were injured and remain in the hospital.

Authorities said the car was involved in human smuggling.

“All preliminary information collected thus far indicates that it was indeed a human smuggling event,” Chief Patrol Agent of the El Paso Sector Gloria Chavez said in a statement.

Car Crash That Killed 7 People in El Paso Was Involved in Human Smuggling

Border marker at San Ysidro Port of Entry, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The car crash that killed seven people in downtown El Paso on Thursday was involved in human smuggling.

The car was fleeing Border Patrol agents when it crashed into a trailer at 2:15 a.m.

Among those killed were at least three undocumented immigrants who were being smuggled into the U.S. and four El Paso residents, including the 18-year-old driver The Daily Mail reports.

A Mexican man and two unidentified people also were killed.

Among the injured were Mexico native Omar Garcia Hernandez, 18, Guatemalan national Wilbur Gomez, 25, and an unnamed 16-year-old from Mexico.

“All preliminary information collected thus far indicates that it was indeed a human smuggling event,” Chief Patrol Agent of the El Paso Sector Gloria Chavez said in a statement.

A sensor alerted agents to the four-door sedan in Sunland Park, New Mexico, an area near the border that is know for human smuggling.

The driver fled by accelerating at a high rate of speed. Agents called off the chase because of the dangerous speed.

Soon after, the agents spotted the car, which had crashed into a trailer on private property.

“I cannot stress enough how Transnational Criminal Organizations continue to exploit human beings and manipulate the youth in our communities by recruiting them to be their mules and their smugglers,” Chavez said.

“Human smuggling is as lucrative as drug smuggling, if not more, and our youth are being targeted.”

Border Patrol Chase Led to Crash That Killed 7 People in Downtown El Paso

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A car fleeing the Border Patrol crashed in downtown El Paso on Thursday morning, killing seven people and injuring three others.

The chase began after Border Patrol agents tried to stop a gray Chevrolet Cruze packed with 10 people shortly after 2 a.m. on West Paisano Drive near Union Depot, The El Paso Times reports.

The driver lost control of the car on a curve in the road, crossing a small gravel median, and crashing through a chain-link fence before striking a parked trailer. The car was torn in two.

The El Paso County medical examiner is trying to identify the dead.

“U.S. Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Santa Teresa and El Paso Stations attempted to stop a vehicle,” Border Patrol said in a news release. “The vehicle fled and was subsequently involved in a motor vehicle accident with multiple fatalities.”

The statement added, “At this time, the U.S. Border Patrol is cooperating with the active investigation, which is being led by the El Paso Police Department. The incident is also under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.”

FBI Investigating Disappearance of $500,000+ from National Border Patrol Council Funds

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is trying to determine what happened to more than $500,000 that is missing from the union that represents about 20,000 Border Patrol agents.

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told ProPublica that the FBI’s investigation is targeting an apparent embezzlement scheme involving the bank accounts of the union’s El Paso branch, where money went missing in recent years.

“We know the FBI is looking at it,” Judd said.

In November, Judd notified agents in El Paso that money was missing. In a recording of that meeting, Judd said that the union hired forensic auditors, who found “$352,389.31 that was misappropriated. They also found that there was another $150,035.65 that was not properly paid to the IRS in tax money. Somebody pocketed it, just up and walked away.”

Judd told agents, “We expect there will be indictments.”

The FBI did not comment on the investigation.