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Tag: Mexico

U.S. Falling Far Short in Effort to Battle Guns in Mexico, LA Times Reports

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — America seems to be falling short when it comes to committing resources to battle the burgeoning problem of guns being smuggled into Mexico.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

“U.S. authorities in Mexico charged with stemming the flow of U.S. weapons to drug cartels have been hampered by shortfalls in staffing, agents with limited Spanish skills and the difficulty of recruiting new agents to the dangerous posting because they can’t officially carry weapons, current and former staff members say.”

Rene Jaquez, a former ATF attache in Mexico City and deputy attache in Ciudad Juarez, told the paper that agents didn’t have the resources to effectively go after gun smugglers.

“I can tell you from my perspective as the former country attache in Mexico … that ATF has not taken seriously its role in the international affairs program as far as Mexico is concerned,” Jaquez told the Times.

To read more click here.

Some Federal Agents “Anguished” Over ATF Operation That Let Guns into Mexico

atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A variety of federal agent voiced “anguished objections” over an ATF operation that allowed guns to be smuggled in Mexico so they could be traced to the top levels of the drug cartels, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The paper reported that the operation known as “Operation Fast and Furious” lost track of hundreds of firearms, many which have been linked to crimes including the murder of a Border Patrol agent last December.

“With the number of guns we let walk, we’ll never know how many people were killed, raped, robbed,” ATF agent John Dodson said in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, according to the LA Times. “There is nothing we can do to round up those guns. They are gone.”

Dodson said in that interview that he was still haunted by his participation in the operation, the Times reported.

The paper reported that “ATF said agents took every possible precaution to assure that guns were recovered before crossing into Mexico.”

ATF spokesman Scot L. Thomasson said the operation is under evaluation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s always a good business practice to review any new strategy six or eight months after you’ve initiated it, to make sure it’s working, that it’s having the desired effect, and then make adjustments as you see fit to ensure it’s successful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt wrote in a column on Friday after meeting with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, that the president said the flow into Mexico  of assault weapons like AK-47s rose “exponentially” after Congress let a ban on the sale of assault weapons expire in 2004.

One Gun Used in Slaying of ICE Agent in Mexico Linked to Suspected Texas Gun Trafficker

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF said Tuesday it had arrested a suspected gun trafficker in Texas who allegedly bought one of the weapons that wound up in Mexico and was used to kill ICE agent Jaime Zapata on Feb. 15.

Authorities said Mexican authorities recovered three guns used in the ICE agent’s slaying — one of which was tied to suspected gun trafficker Otilio Osorio. He and his brother Ranferi Osorio, 27, were arrested Monday at their home in Lancaster, Tex. on charges of possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers.

Authorities alleged that Osorio purchased the firearm used in the ICE agent’s slaying last Oct. 10 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. ATF said ballistic testing conducted by Mexican authorities linked the weapon to Zapata’s death.

In a separate  criminal complaint,  authorities arrested  Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, who lived next door to the Osorio brothers, on charges of knowingly making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and dealing in firearms without a license.

U.S. authorities have been trying to battle an increasing problem of illegal gun traffickers shipping guns south to the Mexican drug cartels.

ICE Busts 678 Gang Members and Associates in Massive Crackdown Involving 168 U.S. Cities


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced Tuesday the arrests of 678 suspected gang members and associates, many with alleged ties to drug organizations around the world from Mexico to South America and Asia.

Dubbed “Project Southern Tempest”, ICE and and Homeland Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said investigators targeted 168 U.S. cities with gangs that had affiliations with drug trafficking organizations. More than 46 percent of those arrested were members or associates of gangs tied to the drug organizations, ICE said.

Authorities said the operation ran from December 2010 to February.

“Project Southern Tempest is the largest ever ICE-led gang enforcement operation targeting gangs with ties to drug trafficking organizations,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement.

“Through gang enforcement operations like Project Southern Tempest and Project Big Freeze last year, ICE will continue to disrupt and dismantle these transnational gangs and rid our streets not only of drug dealers, but the violence associated with the drug trade,” he said.

Authorities said there were 133 different gang affiliations and those arrested came from 24 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. ICE said the gangs were also involved in such crimes and robberies and murders.

More Arrests Made in ICE Agent’s Murder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The hunt for the murderers of ICE agent Jaime Zapata continued.

The BBC reported that Mexican authorities have arrested two suspected leaders of the violent Mexican  Zetas drug gang in connection with the murder and the wounding of another ICE agent.

BBC reported that authorities arrested Sergio “El Toto” Mora, suspected head of the Zetas drugs gang in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. Meanwhile, authorities detained Luis Miguel Rojo in San Luis Potosi, the town where the attack occurred.

Last week, authorities arrested Julian Zapata Espinoza, who told authorities that he and other thought the ICE agent’s car belonged to a rival gang, BBC reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Fed Agents Go After Suspected Mexican Cartel Members in U.S. in Response to Murder of ICE Agent

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata killed in Mexico/ice photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal agents have been conducting raids in U.S. cities and targeting Mexican cartel members in response to last week’s murder of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico, the Associated Press reported. Another ICE agent Victor Avila Jr. was shot and wounded.

“We are taking a stand and we are sending a message back to the cartels that we will not tolerate the murder of a U.S. agent, or any U.S. official,” Carl Pike, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special operations division said, according to AP.

The roundup, which began Wednesday and is expected to go through Friday, has targeted cities including Atlanta, St. Louis, Denver, Detroit, San Antonio, San Diego, Chicago and New Jersey, AP reported.

AP reported agents seized more than $4.5 million in cash and nearly 20 guns, arrested more than 100 people and confiscated about 23 pounds of methamphetamine, 107 kilos of cocaine, 5 pounds of heroin and 300 pounds of marijuana at more than 150 different locations.

Mexican Authorities Nab 1 Suspect in Slaying of ICE Agent; Authorities Have Indentified Others

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mexican authorities say they have nabbed a suspect in the slaying of ICE agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico last week, the Associated Press reported. Another agent was wounded after being shot twice in the leg.

The Mexican Defense Department issued a brief statement Wednesday but provided no details, AP reported. The two men were ambushed while driving back to Mexico City.

AP, citing a U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the investigation, reported that authorities have identified a “handful” of people in connection with the shooting in northern Mexico. Zapata and the wounded agent Victor Avila were assigned to the ICE attache in Mexico City.

The suspects appear to have ties to the drug cartels, AP reported.

ICE Dir. John Morton Vows to Go After Mexican Gunmen Who Killed One Agent and Wounded Another

Dir. John Morton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton on Tuesday vowed to go after the gunmen who fatally shot ICE agent Jaime J. Zapata and wounded agent Victor Avila in an ambush along a road in Mexico last week.

“Together, the United States and Mexico will bring the long, hard arm of the law down on Jaime and Victor’s shooters,” Morton told a crowd at the funeral of Zapata’s at the Brownsville Events Center in Brownsville, Tex. Agent Avila was shot twice in the leg.

“Together we will look after our people. Together we will continue to see that Jaime and Victor’s work is done and that the rule of law triumphs over lawlessness and empty violence. There is no other way. Acquiescing to the rule of criminals consigns our children, Mexico’s children to a hopeless and empty path. My friends: no retreat, no compromise. Our cause is just, our cause is right, there is no other way.”

Morton, who was joined by other dignitaries including Atty. General Eric Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, continued, according to the text of his speech:

“Jaime died at the hands of gunmen on a highway in the state of San Luis Potosi in Mexico, a long, long way from home. His death was a dark moment – an unspeakable loss for his parents, for his four brothers, for his fiancé Stacye. It was also a dark day for ICE and all of Jaime’s fellow agents and officers.”

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata /ice photo

“I submit to you, however, that as dark as this moment is, Jaime’s life is really all about light. Everyone in this room will eventually meet his or her Maker, and the real question on that day won’t be how we died but how we lived. When it’s my turn, I want to say that I lived like Jaime.”

Nearly 1000 mourners filled the Brownsville Events Center for the mass, according to The Brownsville Herald.  Zapata came from a family of law enforcement members. His father was in law enforcement and one brothers works at ICE and , another in Customs and Border Protection.

Attorney General Holder remarked: “Like so many others who serve this nation in law enforcement, Agent Zapata could have chosen an easier path through life.

“But he was always drawn to public service – and to the work of protecting his fellow citizens and defending America’s security. And he was willing to give what Abraham Lincoln called that “last full measure of devotion” to the nation that he loved – and to the struggle for peace and the cause of justice, within and beyond our borders.”