From the monthly archives: February 2011

United States Border Patrol agents of San Diego Sector have demonstrated significant law enforcement achievements along the 60 linear miles of border shared with Mexico and the 114 miles of coastal border during fiscal year 2010.
San Diego Sector now employs over 2,500 uniformed agents assigned to six line-watch stations in Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, Brown Field, El Cajon, Campo, and Boulevard, and two northern egress stations in San Clemente and Murrieta.  This is a significant deployment of personnel when compared to the staffing levels of 1993, when San Diego Sector had approximately 1,000 agents.
In fiscal year 2010, San Diego Sector Border Patrol launched a comprehensive enforcement strategy known as “Campaign Stronghold,” with focused goals of targeting transnational criminal organizations while raising the level of effective border control.  Effective control is achieved when there is a high probability that agents will detect all illegal entries in between official ports of entry, and bring them to a law enforcement resolution.
At the conclusion of fiscal year 2010, San Diego Sector reached its goal to establish effective operational control in 51 of the 60 land border miles within its area of responsibility. This was done by targeting 22 additional border miles under Campaign Stronghold.
Paul Beeson, Chief Patrol Agent of San Diego Sector said, “I am very pleased with our progress which indicates 85 percent of the land border with Mexico within San Diego Sector’s area of responsibility is under a high level of effective control.  The level of border security achieved over the years has resulted in an increase in the quality of life along the border as noted by the development of housing, shopping malls, small businesses and community infrastructure.”
From Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010, San Diego Sector Border Patrol accomplishments included the apprehension of 68,565 persons for illegal entry into the country.  This is a 42 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year apprehension number of 118,721, and an 89 percent decrease from fiscal year 1986 when there were 628,370 apprehensions, a record number for San Diego.
Nationwide, the United States Border Patrol apprehended 463,382 persons; San Diego Sector apprehensions accounted for 14.8 percent of this total.  Overall apprehensions for fiscal year 2010 along the southwest border with Mexico were 447,731.  San Diego Sector accounted for 15.3 percent of those apprehensions.
San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents seized 21,576pounds of marijuana, a 19.4 percent decrease over fiscal year 2009.  Cocaine seizures decreased 24.2 percent to almost 1,343 pounds; heroin seizures decreased 15.7 percent to over 501 pounds; and methamphetamine seizures increased 28.5 percent to nearly 394 pounds.
There were a total of 2,417,170 pounds of marijuana, over 10,182 pounds of cocaine, 4,576 pounds of heroin, and 933 pounds of methamphetamine seized along the southwest border by the United States Border Patrol.
The focused enforcement efforts of San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents accounted for 12.8 percent of the cocaine, 10.8 percent of the heroin, and 32.6 percent of the methamphetamine seized by the U.S. Border Patrol nationwide.
These results did not come without significant challenges and enormous dangers.  There were a total of 130 assaults on agents while in the performance of their duties.  Fortunately, this was a decrease of 48 percent from the prior fiscal year.  In 2003, there were 377 incidents, a highpoint for recorded assaults on agents.
As effective control along the land border was achieved through effective use of personnel, technology and infrastructure, there was a doubling in recorded maritime smuggling attempts along the San Diego coastline.  During Fiscal Year 2009, there were 49 seizures with 400 arrests.  This fiscal year there were 110 seizures with 867 arrests.
These maritime results are due to the collaborative law enforcement efforts of the San Diego Maritime Unified Command which is comprised of the Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard and other local, state and federal agencies operating in the San Diego maritime domain.
“These impressive achievements are the direct results of the brave men and women in uniform honorably serving and courageously protecting our communities,” said Paul Beeson, Chief Patrol Agent.  “San Diego Sector will continue to target transnational threats and criminal organizations that seek to profit from illicit activities.  We will work tirelessly to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately defeat these threats in order to protect America.”

 

By Mario Conde

Downtown Calexico could change dramatically if a proposal to have digital billboards and Free WI-FI goes through.

A presentation was made weeks ago to the Business Improvement District and the Calexico Chamber of commerce by Daniel Chairez who wants to provide digital billboards at downtown Calexico in order to market the area with new technology and attract new customers. These digital billboards will also provide free internet for customers and businesses in downtown.

“Digital Billboards made an excellent match for our town. We are advertising for local markets, keeping the money locally and renewing our town to a new digital age.” Chairez said.

Chairez, along with his brother, are teaming up to consolidate this project in the near future. The project consists in installing LED, Plasma, and LCD displays at buildings around downtown that will show videos of Calexico businesses only. Chairez said he will only market Calexico businesses at downtown Calexico and not outside agencies that compete with downtown that would take sales tax to other cities.

“Imagine as you are driving or walking in downtown and you have these big High Definition screens giving the latest updates on the border wait, the value of the peso, special local events, and the bus schedules. All while checking your email or downloading music or videos on your Wi-Fi device. Downtown has always targeted and marketed to the older generation which makes it clear why many younger generations of shoppers don’t shop downtown.”

The process to have these digital billboards in Calexico will be a long one since it will require the approval of the Planning Commission and see where and how many digital billboards would be permitted in order to comply with the sign ordinance that was approved by the City last year.

“With Digital Billboards, we are moving along with today’s market. Keeping up with technology and blighting up our town with less power efficient billboards it’s like having our own little piece of Times Square or Vegas. This is something for generations to come see and feel proud of our City.” Chairez said.

 

By Mario Conde

While the future of the Redevelopment Agencies is in question, a new legislation has been introduced in Sacramento to give cities another financing option similar to redevelopment.

State Senator Louis Wolk (D-Davis) introduced SB 214 to ensure that municipalities still retain some tools to continue their economic development projects even if the Redevelopment Agencies are phased out. Brown’s budget proposal contains $12.5 billion in cuts and five years of higher taxes as a means to close a projected $25.4 billion deficit.

Wolk’s legislation, Senate Bill 214, works as compromise in the ongoing debate to eliminate or not the RDA. SB 214 would allow the Infrastructure Financing Districts (IFDs) to absorb many of the functions of the current redevelopment agencies. Wolk said that his will be a means to continue to provide economic development while ending the fears of school and special districts.

“It’s time to look ahead at practical alternatives that retain the ability of local governments to finance economic development,” said Wolk.

Cities and Counties are allowed to create an Infrastructure Financing District, or a specified area in which property taxes that would ordinarily go to the general fund are diverted to pay for development projects. These projects would include highways, transit, water and sewer projects, flood control, libraries, parks and recreation, and solid waste facilities. Unlike the Redevelopment Agency, an IFD cannot divert school property taxes and must have the approval from other local entities within the district. This legislation will extend the term of IFD bonds from 30 years to 40 years.  Also, IFD’s will not have the power of eminent domain. This legislation removes the statutory requirement for voters to approve the formation of an IFD or to issue debt, just as there is no voter approval requirement for RDAs to do the same.

“It’s not a question of whether redevelopment is good or bad,” said State Senator Wolk, who chairs the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. “As a former city council member and former county supervisor, I’ve seen redevelopment do considerable good for my community and for communities throughout the state. The question is can we continue to subsidize redevelopment agencies at the expense of schools and other core local services? For years, the state has had to pull from its general fund to backfill property tax funds diverted from K-14 education and local governments for the use of redevelopment agencies,” Wolk said. “We can no longer afford to do that without cutting essential services.  That leaves us with some hard choices to make. Californians have to decide what core services we expect government to provide with our limited resources.”

 

Ruben Garcia, District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) San Diego District Office, announced today that low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Imperial County residents and business owners affected by the severe winter storms, flooding, and debris and mud flows that occurred throughout parts of Southern California from December 17, 2010 through January 4, 2011.
SBA amended its February 2 declaration following damage assessments completed in San Diego County on February 9. The disaster declaration extends SBA assistance to Imperial County because it is contiguous to San Diego County. Disaster declarations issued by the Administrator of SBA include contiguous counties for both property damage and economic injury sustained as a result of storms.
The amended declaration now covers the California counties of Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, the neighboring Arizona counties of La Paz and Mohave and the neighboring Nevada county of Clark.
“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by the disaster,” said Garcia. Customer service representatives continue to be on hand at the following SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center in San Diego County to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application. The center will be open on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.
San Diego County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Serra Mesa Recreation Center, 9020 Village Glen Drive, San Diego, CA 92123
(from Aero Drive take Ruffin Road south & turn right on Village Glen)
Mondays through Fridays, 8 am – 4:30 pm, until further notice
Closed on February 21 in observance of President’s Day
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
Businesses of any size and private, non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
For small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.
Interest rates can be as low as 2.25 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for private, non profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based upon each applicant’s financial condition.
Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling SBA toll-free at (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s Web site at http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Hearing impaired individuals may call (800) 877-8339.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is April 4, 2011. The deadline to return economic injury applications is November 2, 2011.
For more information, visit SBA’s Web site at http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
SBA Field Operations Center – West, P.O. Box 419004, Sacramento, CA 95841

 

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrest today of three suspects in a foiled murder-for-hire plot commissioned by a Tijuana drug cartel.

Dozens of special agents from the California Department of Justice armed with a search warrant conducted the early morning raid at a residence in Palmdale, California.

Arrested there without incident at 6:50 a.m. were Jorge Ernesto Sillas-Rocha, 27, and Victor Manuel Magana Gonzalez, 24, for conspiracy and murder-for-hire. Agents also seized two AR-15 assault weapons, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and an estimated $20,000 in cash.

Agents later arrested Daniel Ceballos, 34, at a Starbuck’s coffee shop in Palmdale.

Also to be charged in the case is Juan Francisco Sillas-Rocha, 33, known as “Ruedas,” who is a lieutenant in the Tijuana cartel called the Arrellano Felix Organization, a vicious gang of drug traffickers responsible for violent murders in Mexico.

“This case sends a message to the border drug cartels trying to do business here: Justice will be swift and certain when you cross into California,” Attorney General Harris said. “I applaud our agents and law enforcement partners for their good work in uncovering and thwarting this murder-for-hire plot.”

Ruedas Sillas-Rocha was identified by investigators as soliciting individuals to assassinate victims in California who owed the cartel large sums of money. Ruedas Sillas-Rocha directed these individuals to carry out the murder of five family members in a simulated home-invasion robbery. Ruedas Sillas-Rocha was willing to pay the would-be assassins thousands of dollars for committing the murders.

Earlier this month, agents with the Department of Justice received information about a possible murder-for-hire plot targeting victims who reside in California and who have ties to the Arrellano Felix Cartel. The targeted victims were said to have owed the cartel a large sum of money, believed to be the proceeds from drug sales. Agents used sophisticated investigative techniques to track the suspects to Palmdale, northeast of Los Angeles.

The investigation also implicated Fernando Sanchez Arrellano, the boss of the Arrellano Felix Cartel, in the California murder-for-hire plot. That investigation is ongoing.

Jorge Ernesto Sillas-Rocha, Gonzalez, and Ceballos are being held in the San Diego County Jail. They will be prosecuted by the San Diego County District Attorney, who is also expected to issue a warrant for Ruedas Sillas-Rocha’s arrest.

 
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