From the daily archives: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Calexico, Calif. – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Calexico Station seized cocaine with an estimated value of $880,000 concealed in a vehicle on Monday afternoon during checkpoint operations on Interstate 8.

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Calexico Station seized cocaine with an estimated value of $880,000 concealed in the vehicle on Monday afternoon during checkpoint operations on Interstate 8

At approximately 2 p.m., a Border Patrol canine team alerted agents to the possible presence of narcotics in a gold 2003 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle while performing a cursory inspection. The vehicle, driven by a male Mexican citizen who is a lawfully admitted permanent resident of the United States, was subsequently referred to the secondary inspection area. During a thorough search of the vehicle, wrapped packages of cocaine were discovered concealed in an after-market compartment underneath the center console.

According to El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jeffrey A. Calhoon, the highway seizure illustrates the U.S. Border Patrol’s three-tiered strategy for intercepting dangerous narcotics.

“We will never let up when it comes to keeping dangerous narcotics from reaching the streets of our communities,” he said. “Whether cutting off the flow of illegal drugs and smugglers on the border between ports of entry, on our highways or at transportation hubs, we will remain vigilant.”

The suspect was arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the vehicle and narcotics.


Luke Phillips
Weather conditions put a damper on some of the festivities at the 2010 NAF El Centro Air Show Saturday, March 13th.
But the Blue Angels took flight despite the wind, thrilling a crowd of more than 40,000 people with loops, rolls, dives and precision formations.
Although most performances went on as planned during the windy day, a demonstartion by the motocross jump team Metal Mulisha was called off minutes after it started. And a second show by the Black Daggers parachute jump team was cancelled completely.
Beside the wind, it was a beautiful day for an air show, conditions which Blue Angels C-130 pilot Capt. Ben Blanton says make the Imperial Valley a unique place to fly.

“The weather is fantastic,” Blanton said. “We come here and we’re able to fly just about every day because of the weather.”

Major David Grahm flew his F-16 fighting Falcon at the air show, performing maneuvers taken from actual combat situations, and also flying along side a P-51 Mustang for the Heritage Flight, three laps flown in formation that are meant to demonstrate how far naval air technology has come through the decades. Grahm also said that he enjoys the perfect flying conditions in thevalley.

“We always enjoy coming down to this area of the country,” Grahm said. “The weathers always great. Usually we don’t have to worry about weather when we come to air shows down here, so that’s the great part, and the people are great too. We’ve never had a bad experience.”

Grahm says that the military hosts air shows across the country for a variety of reasons.
“There are recruiting benefits,” Grahm said. “But the other reason we do this is because we want to get these airplanes and the individuals who maintain and operate these aircraft out in front of the American public, to show the American taxpayer what their money pays for.”
Capt. Ben Blanton, who flies C-130 transport plane Fat Albert, for the Blue Angels, also says he’s proud to represent the military to the public.
“We take great pride in doing what we do and we get excited to be able to take a little bit of the professionalism that’s shown by the men and women of the armed forces all over the world and bring it back to the people,” Blanton said. “It’s really just an honor to be able to do what we do in front of a bunch of people.”
Blanton says his main motivation for being part of the Blue Angels is to inspire young people.
“When you get to go out and you get to talk to a kid and you get to make that face-to-face interaction and see their eyes light up, or you see them watching the demonstration and getting inspired, that’s what we’re all about. That connection is what we’re really here for,” Blanton said. “We really love it here and we hope to come back to the Imperial Valley every year from here on out.”
Melinda Gutierrez, a 1999 graduate of Calexico High School, has been working as an administrator for the Blue Angels for the past three years, and says she’s honored to be able to serve as a role model for young people in the Imperial Valley.
“I’m very privileged,” Gutierrez said. “It’s great. It’s a good experience. I feel like a real good role model, especially being from this area.”
Gutierrez offered some advice for young people who might want to follow in her footsteps some day.
“Stay in school, aim high, and follow every dream no matter what it is,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but you can get there.”


HOO-RAY, HOO-RAY, HOO-RAY! TIGER IS RETURNING TO THE LINKS in time for the Masters Golf Tournament.
Most people in the know expected that would be the case, since these big time celebrities can’t resist the glitz and glamour of a huge crowd, worldwide TV coverage and lots and lots of press coverage.
We hope he doesn’t act too humble, otherwise he’ll flub more shots and than he makes.
But his presence is assured of increasing ratings and interest in this annual Spring event that he has won four times.
THE MASTERS IS A TOURNAMENT THAT DEFIES LOGIC. It was founded by a man who was considered the greatest golfer in history -Bobby Jones. He and old buddy Clifford Roberts set out to design the greatest course and the greatest tournament ever.
I still prefer the U.S. Open when it comes to The Greatest moniker. It has more excitement, more glitz, more come form behind finishes and more cinderella stories than all the Masters combined. But, Roberts and Jones have kept the tournament embedded in the sport public’s mind for over 70 years. They even started a tradition of throwing news people who don’t sing the praises of the tournament off the course.
So, Tiger will be relatively secure from the ever-prying media and the emphasis, as it always is will be on the golf.
The tournament committee goes so far as to limit the number of commercials the network can show during an hour. Gasp! They’ve also gone so far as to eliminate commercials entirely from the final round of play. Man! Whose tougher than that?
So, if you want to ask Tiger what he and his wife did together last night, you might take note that you could be on the outside of the gate looking in before you snap your fingers.
Tiger will get through this and his return to golf. We hope he plays in a quite a few more tournaments this year. His agents need the money. And so do his sponsors. Oh, and it won’t hurt the fans either. We’ve had to suffer through three months of golf from no-names and never-heard-of-hims for too long. I’m happy to see golf get some star power back in the field.
Wally Leimgruber is going to get a lot of challenges from Ray Castillo El Centro and Steve Vasquez of Brawley. Seems he’s always holding somebody off.
We even predicted his loss one year because the balloting was so close But he’s managed to fight off the masses through three terms. Now he’s going for a fourth term. Can he do it again? Tune in later. He always makes the race exciting.
Louis Fuentes will have plenty of competition for the seat vacated in Calexico by Victor Carrillo.
They are people who all well known to him too. They all served on the Calexico City Council and probably feel the Supervisor’s job is in better hands – theirs.
John Renison is well-known in Valley political circles. he served on the Calexico council for three terms. He has experience and knows the area well. He even ran for a couple of other county offices, but lost in the general election after winning the primary. He’s proven to be a tough campaigner.
Luis Castro owns the Calexico bus company and got a suspect deal for federal funding through Congressman Filner and over the objections of some of the major users of the bus service.
But, he has developed a following with Hispanics and some of the low income people in the community. He got elected to the council, didn’t he? He’s been a supporter of austerity, too. What more could you ask for?
Carmen Durazo is a teacher at Calexico High School and served on the Calexico Council too. That’s a position that obviously inspires people to higher office. She is a patron of the arts and worked diligently on several projects, including changing the train schedule at the border. She takes a positive approach and could turn the tide from the other candidates. There hasn’t been a woman on the County Board for a long, long time. Maybe it’s time there is one.
That leaves Fuentes who has proven to be a diligent campaigner and someone who like to drum causes that he can beat a drum for.
His treatment of city employees when it came to their salaries and working hours left a lot to be desired.
More later. Peace.


San Diego — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at San Diego area border stations from 6 a.m. on Friday through 6 a.m. today, confiscated just over 2,900 pounds of narcotics valued at $2.2 million and rescued two smuggled people hidden in a compartment in a vehicle.
On Saturday just after midnight, a CBP officer working at the Otay Mesa passenger port referred a 26-year-old woman driving a black 1997 Mercedes Benz to the secondary lot for further inspection.

During the secondary inspection, a detector dog alerted to the fender area of the vehicle. Officers investigated the area and located a compartment between the engine and both side quarter panels. After removing the quarter panel, officers discovered a 39-year-old man in fetal position who was unable to move. Officers safely removed the man; he was sweating profusely and needed help standing.

The opposite side quarter panel was removed exposing a 26-year-old woman, also in fetal position, who was unresponsive. Officers immediately removed her from the compartment and a CBP officer trained as Medical First Responders gave her medical attention and attended to a four inch burn on her right leg.

The driver, a U.S. citizen from Santa Ana, Calif., was arrested and booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center to await arraignment for the failed smuggling attempt. CBP seized the vehicle. The two illegal aliens, both citizens of Mexico were held as material witnesses in the prosecution case.

On Sunday, March 14, at 2:30 p.m., officers at the San Ysidro port of entry discovered 1,323 pounds of marijuana in a trailer pulled by the a Ford F-150 after a detector dog alerted to the trailer. The driver, a 56-year-old U.S. citizen man from Artesia, Calif., was waiting in line to be inspected when a CBP officer utilized a detector dog to screen the vehicle.

Officers subsequently extracted 64 wrapped packages of marijuana from the front wall of the trailer. The driver was arrested and transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center. CBP seized the conveyance and narcotics.
On Saturday at the San Ysidro border station a CBP officer encountered a 46-year-old San Diego man at about 11:30 p.m., as he waited in line to enter the United States driving a white Ford F-150. The officer conducted an inspection of the truck’s bed, which contained a stack of plywood sheets. When the officer lifted several of the sheets, he discovered packages in a wooden compartment disguised to look like stacked plywood sheets.

In the secondary inspection area, officers extracted 54 packages of marijuana weighing 558 pounds. The driver, a citizen of Mexico and resident of San Diego, was arrested and transported to the San Diego County jail. CBP seized the truck and marijuana.


Video of the 2010 NAF El Centro Air Show, Saturday, March 13 at NAF El Centro.

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