From the daily archives: Thursday, July 8, 2010

Federal officials apprehended 34 illegal aliens and seized 1,398 pounds of marijuana, after thwarting three smuggling at sea attempts along the San Diego County coastline, Monday and Tuesday.

CBP officers seized 1,398 pounds of marijuana from a fishing vessel, off the coast of California near San Diego, July 5.

In the first attempt, at about 5 p.m. on July 5, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction Agents and a CBP officer on maritime patrol intercepted a private vessel, the “Oh Yeah,” as it crossed into the United States from Mexican territorial waters.

Marine Interdiction Agents boarded the vessel for a customs inspection when they discovered a false floor in the deck of the 28-foot fishing vessel’s cabin.

Agents removed 291 plastic-wrapped packages of marijuana from under the false deck, and turned custody of the driver of the boat, a 47-year-old male U.S. citizen, over to agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement maritime task force. CBP seized the vessel and narcotics.

In the second attempt, at about 1:30 a.m. on July 6, a U.S. Coast Guard crew aboard a helicopter spotted a panga vessel with a group of illegal aliens off the coast of Oceanside. A Marine Interceptor and Coast Guard cutter joined the pursuit to stop the Mexican fishing boat when it changed course to avoid the helicopter and boat, coming ashore at Bataquitos Lagoon, just north of Encinitas.

Border Patrol agents on shore quickly apprehended eight illegal aliens from the vessel, and with assistance from San Diego Sheriff’s deputies, eight more individuals were caught within an hour.

In total, 15 men and one woman, all Mexican citizens, were apprehended. CBP seized the vessel.

“This was a classic example of how our partnerships and layered enforcement strategies in San Diego come to fruition to make the stop,” said Paul Pope, acting director of Marine Operations for CBP in San Diego. “Through the Maritime Unified Command, we can best utilize the resources available from different federal, state, and local law enforcement entities to get the job done.”

In the third attempt, at about 5 a.m. on July 6, a panga came ashore near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Provost Marshal Officers from the military base spotted and detained 18 individuals from the boat and turned custody over to Border Patrol agents. All of the people apprehended, 13 men and five women, are Mexican citizens with no documents to enter the United States. Following the incident, Coast Guard and CBP air and marine assets searched for the vessel, which pushed back out to sea.

These interdictions were part of a coordinated effort by member agencies of the San Diego Maritime Unified Command. The San Diego Maritime Unified Command, comprised of CBP, ICE, the Coast Guard, and other law enforcement partners, is an all-threats multi-agency approach to maritime law enforcement operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime region.

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.


Luke Phillips
Holtville resident and owner of Pepe’s Garage on Walnut Ave., Manuel Juarez was found dead in an El Centro motel Friday.
Commander Jeff Mason with the El Centro Police Department says Juarez was found around Noon on Friday, June 2 by staff at the Great Western Motel on Adams Ave. Mason says staff made a regular check of the room after check-out time and discovered the body.
Mason says Juarez’s death is being investigated as a homicide for the time being.
“There was enough suspicion surrounding the discovery of the body to cause us concern and lead us not to form the opinion that this was a suicide,” he said.
Mason says police will have more information and be able to form a better opinion after an autopsy is performed this Friday.
“It (the autopsy) will lead us to the conclusion if this was a suicide or a murder,” Mason said. “It’s not clear cut enough for us to label it one or the other yet.”


The City of Calexico has vacancies on various Commissions. If you are a citizen of Calexico and would like to serve on one of the Commissions listed below, please submit a letter of interest with your name, address, and phone number or a Commission Interest form to the City Clerk’s office located at 608 Heber Ave. in Calexico by Monday, July 19, 2010.
Commission Vacancies are:


In less than two years, a new and controversial DNA searching program launched by Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has proven its worth by nabbing a man suspected of being the “Grim Sleeper” who carried out the murders of at least 10 women in the Los Angeles area over the past 25 years.

Lonnie David Franklin, Jr., 57, of Los Angeles, was arrested yesterday on multiple murder counts after the state DNA lab uncovered a DNA link between the murder-scene material and Franklin’s son, Christopher Franklin. Last year, the son was convicted of a felony weapons charge, and his DNA was collected and sent to the state DNA data bank for the first time.

“In the face of a multitude of objections, we’ve crafted a balanced policy to respect the rights of citizens and at the same time deploy the most powerful DNA search technology available,” Brown said. “Forensic scientists at our Richmond crime lab have developed unique computer software and rigorous protocols that can link a family member of a convicted offender with DNA taken from a murder or rape scene. The successful match in this case demonstrates the extreme importance of this new forensic procedure.”

California became the first state to adopt a familial search program in 2008. It has been used only ten times since its inception in November 2008. The initial familial search under the new program that same month was aimed at finding the “Grim Sleeper” suspect, but it failed to find a relative in the database. A second search initiated on April 28, 2010, was successful because, in the meantime, Lonnie David Franklin’s son had been convicted, his DNA analyzed and linked to the crime scenes in accord with California’s unique familial search procedures.

The suspect would still be at large except for the familial search program.

Familial search works by searching the crime scene sample against convicted offenders in the state database to see if they could be related to the crime scene sample. The convicted offenders are compared to the crime scene sample by looking at how many of the DNA markers are shared and how rare the markers are.

Last month, investigators established a connection between Christopher Franklin’s DNA and DNA taken from the murder scenes. After corroboration with other information, such as google mapping and where Lonnie David Franklin was living during the time the murders occurred, it was determined that Lonnie David Franklin was a viable suspect.

The Los Angeles Police Department then confirmed our finding by taking the suspect’s personal DNA.

Familial DNA searches are done under rigorous guidelines established by Brown’s office. They are only allowed in major violent crimes when there is a serious risk to public safety and all other investigative leads have been exhausted.

“Now we’ve proven how important this forensic technology is by tracking down a suspected serial killer who terrorized Los Angeles for more than two decades,” Brown added.

By following rigorous protocols, scientists from the DOJ Bureau of Forensic Services were able to identify an offender in its DNA Data Bank who did not match the crime scene DNA profile of the Grim Sleeper, but shared sufficient genetic characteristics that ranked him high on a list of potential first-order male relatives, such as a father/son relationship or a brother/brother relationship.

Brown’s lab conducted further testing of the DNA on the Y-chromosome of the offender and compared it to the crime scene Y-chromosome DNA profile, in order to corroborate or disprove the theory that they are close relatives. The Y-chromosome profiles matched, indicating a strong possibility that they are paternal relatives.

State agents then reviewed additional information to corroborate or disprove the theory of kinship. The information collected showed that Franklin was a viable suspect in the murders.

Finally, the Familial Search Committee, a body created to verify familial DNA search results, reviewed all available data. The Department of Justice then provided the name of the database offender to the Los Angeles Police Department as an investigative lead, asserting a reasonable probability that the offender, while not the perpetrator, is a close relative.

The Grim Sleeper

The serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” is believed to have committed at least eleven murders and one attempted murder in Los Angeles since 1985. The crimes have been linked by DNA evidence, but until the familial DNA match, there was no suspect in the case.

The Grim Sleeper’s eleven victims include ten women and one man between the ages of 14 and 36 years. All of the victims were strangled or shot and most were dumped in alleys in Los Angeles.

California’s DNA Data Bank

At California’s DNA Data Bank, formally established in 1990, offender and arrestee samples are analyzed every day at the Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory located in Richmond, CA. Each day, local law enforcement agencies submit offender and arrestee samples in an effort to solve an unsolved case such as a burglary, sexual assault or homicide. These samples are analyzed and uploaded into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) otherwise known as the CAL-DNA Data Bank.

The state’s forensics laboratory has the fourth largest DNA database in the world with more than 1.5 million convicted offender and arrestee DNA profiles and a hit rate of more than 300 hits per month. Each month the lab processes up to 25,000 and 30,000 offender/arrestee samples. Weekly, offender/arrestee sample DNA profiles are uploaded to the DNA database and searched against forensic evidence DNA profiles from crime scenes submitted by local California crime laboratories and the rest of the nation.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Laredo port of entry seized rifles, handguns, ammunition, 10 pounds of cocaine, and arrested nine individuals for alleged immigration violations as part of enforcement actions carried out during the Fourth of July holiday weekend at international crossings.

One of the most notable of the enforcement actions occurred on Saturday, July 3, at the Lincoln Juarez International Bridge when CBP Field Operations officers and Border Patrol agents conducting outbound (southbound) inspections referred a 2002 Ford Focus driven by a 39-year-old male U.S. citizen from Killeen, Texas for a random secondary inspection. At secondary, CBP officers and agents conducted an intensive examination of the vehicle that led to the discovery of six rifles, two handguns, a pair of night vision goggles, six ammunition magazines, and 6,319 rounds of assorted ammunition within the vehicle. CBP arrested the driver, seized the vehicle, firearms, and ammunition and turned them all over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents for further investigation.

Another notable interception that transpired on the same date came about as CBP officers were processing commercial bus passengers also at the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge. CBP officers came upon a 28-year-old Mexican citizen from Payallup, Washington who was applying for admission to enter the U.S. as a passenger on a commercial bus. A CBP officer referred the man and his baggage for a secondary inspection. As a result of the inspection, CBP officers discovered four bundles within the man’s baggage that contained a total of 10 pounds of cocaine. The cocaine has an estimated street value of $320,000. The man was arrested by CBP officers who also seized the cocaine and turned them over to ICE special agents who were continuing the investigation in this case.

The interception of the alleged immigration violations occurred in nine separate enforcement actions at the Laredo international bridges. The cases included one imposter to a border crossing card, three imposters to legal permanent resident cards, three U.S. birth certificate imposters, one case involving the use of counterfeit documents and one other case in which a Mexican citizen attempted to depart the U.S. to Mexico, without having legal documents to be in the U.S. CBP officers processed each of the cases for the nine alleged immigration violators and charged them with various violations of the nation’s immigration laws.

“Our CBP mission to protect our borders is clear and our officers work hard to ensure that our mission is carried out within our complex work environments,” said Gene Garza, port director, Laredo, Texas. “Making sure that travelers, baggage, vehicles and items entering or leaving our country are legitimate is what they are dedicated to doing as evidenced by these enforcement actions both northbound and southbound.”

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.

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