From the daily archives: Monday, April 5, 2010

Otay Mesa — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry yesterday captured a man wanted for attempted murder by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Thursday afternoon at about 4 p.m., a 21-year-old female Mexican citizen entered the border station driving an Acura Integra with two other passengers, an 18-year-old female U.S. citizen and 20-year-old Horacio Gonzalez. The primary officer queried Gonzalez’ name and date of birth against law enforcement databases and received an alert that Gonzalez was a wanted person.

The driver and occupants of the vehicle were escorted to a secure location for further processing.

During the secondary investigation, officers positively identified Gonzalez by checking his fingerprints through the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

Further systems checks revealed that Gonzalez was wanted on an outstanding no bail warrant for an attempted homicide that occurred in Arleta, Calif., on March 16.

Gonzalez, a U.S. citizen and resident of Pacoima, Calif., was arrested and turned over to the custody of Los Angeles Police Department officials.

The driver was released; the 18-year-old female was turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department for violation of her probation on a prior burglary conviction.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

 

Calexico, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico downtown port of entry caught a 24-year-old male enrolled in CBP’s “trusted traveler” program allegedly attempting to smuggle 25 pounds of marijuana into the United States.

On Thursday, April 1, at about 2:15 p.m., a Mexican citizen attempted to enter the U.S. through the designated SENTRI lane driving a gold 2002 Ford Ranger pick-up truck. CBP officers were conducting an enforcement operation and targeted the vehicle for a secondary inspection.

During the secondary examination, a detector dog alerted to the truck. Utilization of a gamma ray inspection system led officers to the discovery of five packages hidden within the spare tire.

Officers arrested the driver, a resident of Mexicali, and turned him over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He is currently being held at the Imperial Country Jail awaiting arraignment.

CBP revoked the driver’s SENTRI card and placed an immigration hold on him to initiate removal from the country at the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

CBP seized the vehicle and narcotics. The street value of the narcotic is estimated at $25,000.

SENTRI, the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection, is CBP’s Trusted Traveler program along the southern border of the United States. The voluntary program provides dedicated vehicle lanes and expedited processing at various ports of entry for pre-approved, low risk travelers. Travelers who elect to enter the program face some additional scrutiny, including an interview with CBP officers, fingerprinting, and background check, before they are allowed to participate.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

 

stash valued at more than $386,000 hidden inside a load of furniture, which was being hauled on Interstate 5, about three miles north of the San Clemente checkpoint.

At about 2:30 p.m., agents stopped a 33-year-old male U.S. citizen, who was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck hauling a flatbed trailer filled with furniture. As agents approached the vehicle, they noticed an odor, believed to be marijuana, emanating from the trailer.

The agents summoned a U.S. Border Patrol K-9 team to the scene of the traffic stop. The K-9 team alerted to trailer area, where agents conducted a physical search. Agents discovered bundles of marijuana concealed inside the voids of several items of furniture. Agents removed a total of 65 bundles of marijuana weighing 772.9 pounds.

The suspected smuggler was arrested and was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the marijuana.

The U.S. Border Patrol deploys coordinated enforcement operations along major routes of egress to prevent the smuggling of illicit narcotics into our country.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

 

Situation Update:

Imperial County Officials this morning provided an update on the situation in Imperial County as a result of the earthquake that hit the Valley yesterday afternoon.

It has been reported that both hospitals in the County are operating. There have been no reports of any major injuries in Imperial County as a result of the earthquake. The EOC has been in contact with officials from Mexicali, Baja CA and are assisting in their requests for mutual aid. Initial reports from Mexicali, Baja CA indicate widespread power and water outages and structural damage to some buildings.

All non-essential employees are being asked to stay home today and all County offices will remain closed today. It is expected that County offices will reopen as soon as safety has been established. County offices have been closed to ensure the safety of employees and the public.

The public is being asked to do the following:

* Expect aftershocks.
* Stay at home or at another safe place unless it is absolutely necessary to be on the road.
* Be careful with cleanup to avoid injury due to fallen debris and glass

Indications for Gas Shutoff after an earthquake:

Do not turn off the gas meter after an earthquake unless there is a gas smell or the sound of gas escaping. Once the gas has been turned off, it may take The Gas Company several days to restore service, depending on the magnitude of emergency. If there is an apparent gas leak, remain calm. Do not light a match, candle or cigarette, and do not turn electrical devices-not even a light switch-on or off. From a safe location call The Gas Company at 800-427-2200 or 800-342-4545 in Spanish 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Update on traffic at Calexico Port of Entry:

The Calexico Downtown port of entry is still closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic is accessible through lane 9 and 10 (SENTRY Lanes). The Calexico East Port of entry is being kept open 24/7 with all eight lanes open.

Road Closures:

The following roads have been closed due to shifting and separations in the roadway:

Drew Rd at Evan Hewes to Sunbeam Lake

Lyon Rd from Austin to Brockman

Brockman Rd from McCabe to Schaniel

Austin Rd from McCabe to Ross Rd

Worthington Rd from Forrester to Huff

Imperial County Officials this morning provided an update on the situation in Imperial County as a result of the earthquake that hit the Valley yesterday afternoon.

It has been reported that both hospitals in the County are operating.  There have been no reports of any major injuries in Imperial County as a result of the earthquake.  The EOC has been in contact with officials from Mexicali, Baja CA and are assisting in their requests for mutual aid.  Initial reports from Mexicali, Baja CA indicate widespread power and water outages and structural damage to some buildings.

All non-essential employees are being asked to stay home today and all County offices will remain closed today.  It is expected that County offices will reopen as soon as safety has been established.  County offices have been closed to ensure the safety of employees and the public.

The public is being asked to do the following:

  • Expect aftershocks.
  • Stay at home or at another safe place unless it is absolutely necessary to be on the road.
  • Be careful with cleanup to avoid injury due to fallen debris and glass

Indications for Gas Shutoff after an earthquake:

Do not turn off the gas meter after an earthquake unless there is a gas smell or the sound of gas escaping.  Once the gas has been turned off, it may take The Gas Company several days  to restore service, depending on the magnitude of emergency.  If there is an apparent gas leak, remain calm.  Do not light a match, candle or cigarette, and do not turn electrical devices-not even a light switch-on or off.  From a safe location call The Gas Company at 800-427-2200 or 800-342-4545 in Spanish 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Update on traffic at Calexico Port of Entry:

The Calexico Downtown port of entry is still closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic is accessible through lane 9 and 10 (SENTRY Lanes).  The Calexico East Port of entry is being kept open 24/7 with all eight lanes open.

Road Closures:

The following roads have been closed due to shifting and separations in the roadway:

Drew Rd at Evan Hewes to Sunbeam Lake

Lyon Rd from Austin to Brockman

Brockman Rd from McCabe to Schaniel

Austin Rd from McCabe to Ross Rd

Worthington Rd from Forrester to Huff

 

By Luke Phillips

Easter dinners across the Imperial Valley were interrupted Sunday as a series of powerful earthquakes shook the region.
According to the United States Geological Survey, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Imperial Valley at 3:40 p.m. Sunday and was centered 40 miles southeast of Calexico in Guadalupe Victoria, Mexico. USGS estimates that 20 million people felt the quake, which shook buildings in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas and was felt as far away as Tucson and Santa Barbara.
According to Imperial County Fire Chief Tony Rouhotas, damage assessments are still being completed, but Calexico and El Centro seem to have been hit the hardest.
“A lot of what’s being done in this room is assessment,” Rouhotas said at a press conference at the Imperial Valley Office of Emergency Service Monday. “We have a lot of assessment crews out in the field right now.”
The Calexico City Council held an emergency meeting Sunday evening and declared a state of emergency in the city. Many buildings in downtown Calexico were badly damaged and the area will be closed until further notice.
“The governor’s office received a declaration of local emergency proclamation,” Imperial County Supervisor Louis Fuentes at the press conference. “As of this morning, the Governor has been briefed and the emergency proclamation that he would sign is being drafted as we speak.”
The port of entry in Calexico also received heavy damage and was closed to vehicle traffic at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Traffic from the port was diverted to the Calexico East Port of Entry, which will remain open for 24-hours a day until further notice. Pedestrian traffic was being processed through the vehicle lanes at the downtown port of entry.
There were several reports of heavily damaged buildings in the Calexico area, including the De Anza Hotel, which was evacuated. A senior care facility in Calexico was also evacuated by the American Red Cross and residents were moved to a shelter.
In El Centro, damage to the main street shopping district was heavy, with broken glass, mortar, and bricks littering the sidewalks. Several buildings were roped off with police caution tape, including the Old Town El Centro Plaza building, which showed the most obvious damage. Bureau of Land Management Rangers were patrolling the streets in downtown El Centro, keeping pedestrians away from unsafe buildings and guarding the many storefronts with broken windows.
So far, authorities haven’t reported any damage in Holtville, Brawley or Imperial.
Fire Chief Rouhotas told reporters that one serious injury had been reported in El Centro, but didn’t provide any details on the incident. Rouhotas said the injured person was in critical condition and remains hospitalized.
Imperial County offices were closed on Monday and are expected to be re-opened as soon as inspectors can insure the structural integrity of the building.
On the other side of the border, Mexicali took the brunt of the quake, suffering widespread power outages, water outages, and structural damage. Rouhotas also said that there have been nine structure fires reported in the city and officials have called for mutaul assistance from the Imperial Valley Fire Department in the form of a 2,500 gallon water tender to help fight the fires.
There have been two deaths reported in Mexicali so far. One man died when his home collapsed, and another was killed after he panicked during the quake and ran into oncoming traffic.
A parking structure at Mexicali City Hall also collapsed, but no one in the facility at the time.
Two powerful aftershocks, centered in Guadalupe Victoria, Mexico, hit shortly after the main quake, and two more, centered south of Seeley, hit during the early morning hours.
So far, there have been aftershocks centered in Mexicali, Calexico, Seeley, Brawley, Holtville, Niland, Salton City, Ocotillo, Jacumba, Julian, Hemet, and dozens of other places across southern California.
According to Caltech Seismologist Lucy Jones, the probability of an aftershock of at least 6.0 magnitude is ‘reasonably likely’. Jones also said that there is a 5 percent chance of the region having another earthquake of 7.3 magnitude or higher.
County officials are urging residents to be prepared for large aftershocks.
“We can’t predict them, but they need to be expected,” said Rouhotas. “Stay at home or in other safe places unless it is absolutely necessary to be out on the road.”
Other recommendations made by county officials include:
– When cleaning up, be watchful for broken glass and falling debris.
– Never turn off gas lines unless you smell or hear gas escaping. If you have a gas leak, do not use any incendiary devices, such as matches, and don’t use any electrical devices. From a safe location, call the gas company at 1-800-427-2200.

 
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