From the daily archives: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced today the extradition from Mexico of MARIO ERNESTO VILLANUEVA MADRID, the former governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on charges that he accepted millions of dollars in bribes from the notorious Juarez Cartel, in exchange for assisting in the importation of over two hundred tons of cocaine onto American streets. VILLANUEVA MADRID was also extradited on a second Indictment in which he is charged with laundering nearly $19 million in drug proceeds through accounts at Lehman Brothers in New York and elsewhere.

VILLANUEVA MADRID was turned over by the Mexican Procuradoria General de la Republica (“PGR”), or Attorney General’s Office, to agents of the DEA and deputies of the United States Marshals Service (“USMS”). He was flown by DEA Air Wing jet to White Plains, New York, and arrived late Sunday. VILLANUEVA MADRID is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court later this afternoon.

DEA Special Agent-in-Charge JOHN P. GILBRIDE stated: “The apprehension of Mario Villanueva Madrid exemplifies international law enforcement collaboration at its best. Villanueva allegedly abused the trust placed in him by the citizens of Quintana Roo, when he facilitated drug trafficking and money laundering across international borders. I congratulate the law enforcement officials on both sides of the U.S. Mexico border for ending Villanueva’s abuse of power and corruption.”

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “The seeds of today’s violent turmoil in Mexico were first sewn over a decade ago by alleged criminals like Mario Villanueva Madrid. The Indictment charges that Villanueva Madrid turned the Mexican state of Quintana Roo into a virtual narco-state, selling its infrastructure and even its police to one of the world’s most dangerous mafia enterprises. By allegedly corrupting his powerful office for profit, Villanueva Madrid permitted the Juarez Cartel to pump 200 tons of poison through Mexico and onto American streets. Today, the former Governor of Quintana Roo finally faces justice in an American courtroom. We are profoundly grateful for the courage the Government of Mexico has demonstrated through this extradition, and we applaud the hard work and perseverance of the DEA, our partners in this and so many other vital international organized crime cases.”

 

El Paso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas, and New Mexico seized almost 1,300 pounds of illegal drugs during the past seven days. Seizure activity included 15 marijuana busts totaling 1,231 pounds and a pair of cocaine seizures netting 66 pounds.

CBP officers at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso noted discrepancies in boxes that contained toddler seats.

One of the most unusual seizures of the week occurred May 5 when CBP officers at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso discovered 11 pounds of marijuana hidden in a pair of toddler chairs. A CBP officer at the primary inspection station noted discrepancies in two boxes that were labeled as containing small chairs designed to be used by young children. CBP officers X-rayed the boxes and spotted an anomaly in the appearance of the chairs. CBP officers examined the chairs and found that numerous bundles of marijuana had been glued to the interior walls of the chairs. The contents of the 14 bundles tested positive for marijuana. CBP officers arrested the driver, a 42-year-old Juarez woman. She was turned over to the El Paso Police Department for local prosecution.

“CBP officers have found drugs concealed in bags of dog food, framed pictures of Jesus, cans of jalapenos, and many other common items,” said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. “The creativity of the drug smuggler is foiled by the vigilance and attention to detail of the CBP officer.”

CBP officers working at area ports of entry identified and took custody of 62 imposters during the past week. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it to CBP as their own in an attempt to gain entry to the United States.

Imposters with previous criminal histories are generally booked into the El Paso County jail to face federal prosecution. Imposters are also removed from the United States for a minimum five year period and face federal felony charges if they attempt to illegally reenter the country again.

The 62 imposter arrests made up almost half of the 131 immigration related infractions CBP officers uncovered at area port during the previous seven days. CBP officers stopped 32 intended immigrants during the last week. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. Violators generally lose their documents and are returned to Mexico. CBP officers also recorded 37 cases of people making false claims to U.S. citizenship; people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, people attempting to enter without inspection and visa overstay violations.

Thorough exams and name queries also resulted in the identification of 34 people who were being sought by law enforcement on a wide variety of charges. Fugitives were wanted for sexual assault of a minor, forgery domestic violence, probation violations, and other offenses.

CBP agriculture specialists working at area ports made 10 seizures of prohibited food and agricultural items this week, resulting in $2,600 in fines being assessed. Prohibited items seized this week included pork meat, pork skins, pork lard, mangos, guavas, apples, avocados, citrus leaves and live plants. Dozens of other people avoided penalties by declaring their agricultural items and abandoning prohibited items at the port.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

 

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s major disaster declaration issued for the state of California:

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for removing debris from public areas and for emergency measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and  first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

 

By Jim Predmore

Petco Park pulled out all the stops as they welcomed high school athletes from throughout Southern California for a chance to have a “Big League Experience”; not only for the players, but for the parents, fans and the entire community.

The ballpark was in immaculate condition for the young players. The Padres staff made every effort to make this a special experience. They were vacuuming the field, repacking the mound, painting new baselines and batters box, all in an effort to make the players feel like there were in the Big Leagues.

The Holtville Vikings got their chance to play on Saturday May 8th at 1:00pm as they faced off against the Palo Verde Yellow Jackets.  The Vikings were the visiting team and got to bat first. Zach Soto was the first Viking to come to the plate and was walked, then stole second. Joe Gonzales had an infield sacrifice grounder that moved Soto to third. Luis Espinoza came up and hit a ball through left center for a single, which gave Soto a score.. Troy Dollente walked then Joe Gonzales hit a single to left scoring Espinoza, giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead. Troy Dollente took the mound for the Vikings and faced off against Palo Verde’s Dillon Hefner, who hit a ground ball to short and was able to beat the throw to first. With back to back singles by Jordan Powers and Devonte White, Palo Verde tied up the game 2-2.

Palo Verde added another run in the second and the Vikings tied it up in the third, for a 3-3 ball game. The score stayed that way due to some fine pitching by both teams, taking the game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Vikings got the first two batters out.  Stefan Guillin hit a ground ball to second and was safe on a throwing error. The next batter walked, giving Palo Verde a man on first and second. Then Palo Verde hit a line drive to short left, just out of the reach of David Fregoso, allowing Palo Verde to score and get the win.

Even though the Viking’s came up short, the experience of playing a game in a Big League Ball Park will be a lasting memory for all that were able to participate in such an event.

 
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