From the daily archives: Friday, November 12, 2010

Pair Attempted to Discard Fire Extinguisher Containing Cocaine

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U.S. Border Patrol Arrests Two After Vehicle Stop
Pair Attempted to Discard Fire Extinguisher Containing Cocaine

(Tuesday, November 09, 2010) contacts for this news release

Boulevard, Calif. — At about 1 a.m. this morning, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested two 35-year old males after initiating a vehicle stop on their Mercedes-Benz on Interstate 8 and discovering more than one and a half pounds of cocaine.

Modified fire extinguisher.
Modified fire extinguisher.

Agents observed the men acting in a suspicious manner near a white 1995 Mercedes-Benz with an open trunk. The car was parked next to a callbox on the shoulder of the westbound lanes of Interstate 8. The men had walked from the rear of the car into an area of dense brush before returning to their car and continuing to drive west.

Agents later stopped the Mercedes-Benz and questioned the men whose nervous demeanor and inconsistent answers led agents to request the assistance of a Border Patrol K-9 team. The K-9 team conducted a cursory inspection of the Mercedes-Benz which yielded a positive alert to the rear of the car. Agents searched the car but were not initially able to determine what caused the positive alert.

One and a half pounds of cocaine located inside the fire extinguisher.
One and a half pounds of cocaine located inside the fire extinguisher.

Agents then returned to the location where the car had been parked earlier and followed the men’s shoeprints into the brush. The shoeprints led to an inoperable fire extinguisher. Agents determined the extinguisher had been modified and opened it, discovering more than one and a half pounds of cocaine hidden inside with an estimated street value of $15,400.

Agents arrested the driver of the car, a U.S. citizen and resident of Chula Vista, Calif., along with the passenger, a Mexican national. They were both turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the cocaine.

The U.S. Border Patrol maintains a strong defense-in-depth enforcement posture along the major routes of egress from the border to our nation’s interior. San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents seized more than 1,342 pounds of cocaine in fiscal year 2010, which concluded on Sept. 30.

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.


San Diego County’s leading small business lender celebrates the success of a local Hispanic business owner
SAN DIEGO, November 10, 2010 –Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), San Diego’s leading lender to small businesses, has awarded the San Diego Learning Center with the 2010 Wells Fargo Southern California Hispanic Business of the Year Award. Jesseca Saenz-Gonzalez, founder and president of the San Diego Learning Center, will be presented with the Hispanic Business of the Year Award and a $5,000 prize by Wells Fargo executives on Univision Television airing Thursday, November 11 between 5 – 7 a.m.
The San Diego Learning Center is an affordable educational company designed to help students and adults of all ages reach their full academic potential. Established in 2002, the center’s education programs start with pre-k reading readiness through college level courses. The center has four San Diego County locations; Chula Vista, East Lake, Barona Indian Reservation and Viejas Indian Reservation.
The $5,000 cash prize will be used by the San Diego Learning Center to provide scholarships to assist local students with educational costs.
“I am very honored to be recognized with the Hispanic Business of the Year Award,” said Jesseca Saenz-Gonzalez.  “This prize will allow me to continue my service to the Hispanic community by providing scholarships to our local youth, to help them with school and educational costs. My business prides itself in touching the lives of not just one child but the lives of many children and this award will help me to do just this.”
Jesseca Saenz-Gonzalez is the founder and president of the San Diego Learning Center. She has a B.A. from Eastern New Mexico University and has lived in San Diego for the past 15 years. She became interested in the field of education while working on her Master’s degree in Administration. Jesseca spent 5 years working as the Center Director of a world-wide supplemental education corporation, where she served as the top Center Director nationwide and received the Center Director of the Year Award. Jesseca was also honored as the 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year by the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Jesseca’s philosophy of education is to meet students at their level, diagnose student progress, and prescribe new learning.
“Wells Fargo is very pleased to recognize the San Diego Learning Center as the 2010 Hispanic Business of the Year,” said Kim Young, Wells Fargo’s Southern California regional president.  “Jesseca has an unwavering passion and commitment to the Hispanic youth in our community and is delivering quality work that makes her a leader in her industry and community.”
Wells Fargo is the No. 1 SBA lender, in both units and volume, to San Diego County small business owners. For the federal fiscal year 2010, which ended Sept. 30, 2010, Wells Fargo extended 56 loans totaling $20.8 million in SBA 7(a) financing to San Diego County small business owners.  The company is also America’s No. 1 small business lender (2009 Community Reinvestment Act government data) and a leading lender to women-and diverse-owned businesses.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.2 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 10,000 banking stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet ( and, and other distribution channels across North America and internationally. With 278,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in America. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked #19 on Fortune’s 2009 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.


Rail cargo theft in Los Angeles
Cargo theft from a railroad yard earlier this year near Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Inside Cargo Theft
A Growing, Multi-Billion-Dollar Problem


You probably don’t hear much about cargo theft on the news, but it poses a real and rising threat to our country’s economy and national security. During the past five years, the groups involved in this crime have become better organized and more violent…and the price tag associated with the thefts is increasing.

Defining the problem. Cargo is any commercial shipment moving via trucks, planes, rail cars, ships, etc., from point of origin to final destination. If merchandise is stolen at any point in between—highway, truck stop, storage facility, warehouse, terminal, wharf, etc.—then it’s considered cargo theft.

Scope of the problem. Because cargo theft statistics have never, until recently, been a separate reportable category in the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and because many companies don’t report cargo crimes (to avoid bad publicity, higher insurance rates, damage to reputation, embarrassment, etc.), the exact dollar losses aren’t known. Industry experts estimate all cargo thefts ring up as much as $30 billion in losses each year.

Cargo theft has many victims, from employees (i.e., drivers, warehouse workers) who can be hurt during an armed hijacking or robbery….to retailers who lose merchandise…to consumers who pay as much as 20 percent more to make up for cargo theft…to state and local governments who lose sales tax revenue…and even to insurance companies, manufacturers, and shipping companies.

What’s being stolen? Any product being shipped is potentially a target, but cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, and especially computer/electronic components are current high-value favorites being re-sold on the black market.

Cargo trucks
Industry experts estimate all cargo thefts ring up as much as $30 billion in losses each year.

Law enforcement response. Since the FBI’s jurisdiction doesn’t kick in until an interstate nexus is achieved, many of the cargo thefts in the U.S. are investigated by local law enforcement. But even when we get involved, we focus on criminal enterprises engaged in systemic or violent criminal acts. And if a case has an international nexus (as many do), we work with our legal attachés overseas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and our international partners.

We have also joined forces with state and local law enforcement agencies on seven cargo theft task forces in five cities that are key transportation hubs—Miami, El Paso, Chicago, New York, and Memphis.

One interesting fact about cargo crime: it’s usually a “gateway” crime. In many instances, a cargo theft investigation will turn into a case involving organized crime, public corruption, health care fraud, insurance fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering, or possibly even terrorism. Criminal groups use the illegal proceeds they gain from stealing cargo to fund their criminal operations. And the fear is that terrorists could use their proceeds to launch attacks or fund training.

Industry assistance. Of course, law enforcement couldn’t effectively investigate cargo theft without the assistance of our retail and transportation industry partners. They:

  • Provide transportation help—i.e., trucking, shipping, and storing stolen goods for us;
  • Provide merchandise, warehouse equipment, and trucks for use in our undercover operations; and
  • Sometimes even have their own forensic labs to assist in the analysis of certain types of evidence.

And with the addition of the cargo theft category to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting System, once police are fully trained to identify and report such crimes, we should have a much better picture of the overall cargo theft problem and will be able to use our resources more strategically.

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