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Tag: New Mexico

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.”

First-Year Border Patrol Agent Found Dead While on Patrol in New Mexico

Border Patrol Agent Johan Jordan, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A rookie Border Patrol agent was found dead while patrolling a remote desert in southwestern New Mexico.

Johan Mordan, a 26-year agent working out of the Lordsburg Station, was found unresponsive on a trail after other agents lost contact with him in the desert of Bootheel of New Mexico, where he was on foot patrol, El Paso Times reports.

The agents tried to resuscitate him, but to no avail.

An autopsy is underway to determine the cause of death.

“It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Border Patrol Agent Johan Mordan of El Paso Sector,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Mark Morgan tweeted.

“He served his country and community with honor. Our thoughts are with his loved ones and the entire Border Patrol community during this time.”

Prosecutors Clear Border Patrol Agents, Officers in Deadly Shooting in Las Cruces

Dashcam image via Las Cruces Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents, deputies and police officers will not be charged in connection with the shooting death of a suspect in the parking lot of a Las Cruces Home Depot, prosecutors told KRQE.

Investigators said the suspect, Francisco “Paco” Tarin, opened fire at a Las Cruces police officer who had responded to a June 17 call about a suspicious man threatening employees at a nearby Jack in the Box. While the officer drove himself to a hospital, a group of officers, deputies and border agents responded and found the suspect in the Home Deport parking lot.

After Tarin refused to surrender, he was shot with a non-lethe bean bag round. Tarin responded by shooting at the group of officers and agents, prompting them to return fire, killing the suspect.

The Officer-Involved Incident Task Force investigated the shooting and sent its findings to the district attorney’s office for review.

Doña Ana County District Attorney Mark D’Antonio cleared the law enforcement officers of wrongdoing.

Off-Duty FBI Agent Shoots, Kills Veterinarian in Albuquerque Brewery

Cody Wrathall, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty FBI agent shot and killed a gun-wielding Utah man inside an Albuquerque brewery Saturday night, witnesses told police.

When the shooting happened, police were en route to the bar after a woman had alerted 911 that her ex-boyfriend was stalking her and was at Nexus Brewery.

“The female’s ex-boyfriend or ex-husband showed up and brandished a firearm inside the bar,” officer Simon Drobik told the Albuquerque Journal. “The agent saw that and stopped his actions basically by shooting. The individual was transported to the hospital and is deceased.”

The FBI agent was not detained, and police are still investigating. The FBI’s Inspection division is assisting.

Police identified the alleged gunman as Cody Guy Wrathall, 43, a veterinarian for large animals in northern Utah.

Although Wrathall doesn’t have a criminal history in New Mexico, he was disciplined by Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing for overdosing on Valium and Ketamine that he took from a veterinary clinic.

“Respondent had attempted to treat himself for depression and anxiety with the Ketamine and Valium,” according to the disciplinary documents. “While Respondent has been diagnosed and treated for depression and anxiety, Respondent did not possess a valid prescription for the Ketamine or Valium. Respondent obtained the Ketamine and Valium from a former veterinary practice that was dissolved in 2017.”

New Mexico allows law enforcement to have guns inside a bar as long as they are following their department or agency’s rules. FBI rules allow agents to be in possession of a weapon inside a bar.

FBI: Militia That Stopped Migrants at Border Was Training to kill Obama, Clinton and Soros

Larry Mitchell Hopkins

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The leader of an armed, right-wing militia that was stopping migrants at the southern border was “training” his group to assassinate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros, an FBI agent said in court papers.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was arrested in New Mexico, where the United Constitutional Patriots is based, and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The UCP boasted about detaining about 6,500 migrants in New Mexico in the past two months.

FBI Special Agent David S. Gabriel said in an affidavit that the FBI was alerted to Hopkins’ suspicious activities following reports in October 2017 of “alleged militia extremist activity,” the New York Times reports.

A month later, two FBI agents entered Hopkins’ home with his consent and found 10 firearms. Hopkins insisted the guns belonged to his common-law wife, Fay Sanders Murphy.

In the affidavit, the FBI said the UCP “were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa,” a left-wing activist group that has clashed, sometimes violently, with right-wing groups across the country. No more details were provided.

What remains unclear is why the FBI waited so long to arrest Hopkins after finding the guns. The FBI concluded at the time that the possession of weapons was illegal because Hopkins was a felon.

“My question is, why now?” Hopkins’ attorney, Kelly O’Connell, asked about the arrest.

Hopkins, who has a long rap sheet, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

O’Connell acknowledged he’s “not a militia specialist,” but said Hopkins and other members of the armed group “believe they are helping to enforce the laws of America on immigration.”

FBI Arrests Leader of Armed Militia That Was Detaining Undocumented Immigrants

Distant border fence in the desert near El Paso and its Mexican neighbor Juarez.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI on Saturday arrested the leader of an armed militia that was detaining undocumented immigrants at the southern border.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was arrested in New Mexico, where the United Constitutional Patriots is based, on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the New Mexico attorney general, Hector Balderas, announced.

The arrest comes after the group posted controversial images and video of its operations on its Facebook page, showing members detaining immigrants.

“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” Balderas wrote in a statement. “The arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hand of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes.”

A spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots claimed responsibility for detaining 5,600 immigrants over the past two months, saying the group’s mission is “to support the Border Patrol.”

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection has urged private citizens not to get involved with detaining immigrants and asked that they instead alert border officials.

Aliens? Earth-Bound Asteroid? Group Explains Closure, FBI Probe of Space Observatory

Sunspot Solar Observatory, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Aliens? An Earth-bound asteroid? A super solar flare?

The mysterious closure of a space observatory in New Mexico last week spurred wild theories.

The group that manages the Sunspot Solar Observatory explained the closure in a Facebook post, saying it had been “cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Park.”

The state from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy continued, “we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.”

The FBI initially swooped into the observatory without explanation, prompting even the local sheriff to question what was going on.

“For the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there,” Otero County Sheriff Benny House said. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.” 

At the time, the observatory’s website only indicated the shutdown occurred “due to unforeseen circumstances” and would remain closed “until further notice.”

The observatory is close to the famous Roswell landing site, where a UFO in 1947 fell from the sky. Officials originally said the object was a weather balloon but changed the story years later. Conspiracy theorists have long maintained it was an alien craft.

AURA, which later said the observatory was closed “based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat,” gave no further explanation of the “criminal activity.”

AURA acknowledged how the “lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some.

“However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take,” said the statement.

FBI Swoops in on Space Observatory without Explanation, Prompting UFO Conspiracy Theories

Sunspot Solar Observatory, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Conspiracy theories are swirling after the FBI secretly swooped in on a space observatory in New Mexico and evacuated it without explanation.

FBI agents, some of whom arrived in a Blackhawk helicopter, shut down the Sunspot Solar Observatory for an unexplained security issue with no word on when it will reopen.

Otero County Sheriff Benny House told Alamogordo Daily News that local law enforcement was asked to be on standby.

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on,” House said. “We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why. The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say.”

House said the FBI’s response was unusual.

“For the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there,” House said. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”

The observatory’s website only indicated the shutdown occurred “due to unforeseen circumstances” and would remain closed “until further notice.”

The FBI’s actions and subsequent silence on the issue triggered conspiracy theories about the detection of extraterrestrial life.

The observatory is close to the famous Roswell landing site, where a UFO in 1947 fell from the sky. Officials said the object was a weather balloon, but conspiracy theorists have long maintained it was an alien craft.

House said he can’t understand why the FBI is involved.

“They’re not federal employees,” the sheriff said. “It maybe somebody who threatened one of their workers. If that’s the case, why didn’t call us and let us deal with it. These guys are regular workers that work for this company. I don’t know why the FBI would get involved so quick and not tell us anything.”