From the daily archives: Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NILAND, Calif. – On June 2, 2011, U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio station arrested two smugglers disguised as law enforcement officers attempting to transport over $2.6 million dollars of narcotics through the Highway 111 checkpoint near Niland.

The incident occurred at approximately 7 p.m., when a Border Patrol canine team at primary inspection alerted to a blue Chevrolet Silverado occupied by what appeared to be corrections officers from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  As agents directed the men over to secondary for further inspection, the driver accelerated, fleeing northbound from the scene at a high rate of speed.

Agents responding later discovered the abandoned truck northeast of the checkpoint on a dirt road off of Highway 111.  An extended search in the vicinity of the vehicle revealed several discarded bundles of narcotics.  Border Patrol agents located and arrested the driver shortly after near the deserted truck.  The passenger was also arrested approximately two miles away from where the vehicle was found.

Both the driver and passenger are United States citizens–ages 29 and 30–with no affiliation to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  The bundles of narcotics were found to contain approximately 80 pounds of cocaine and 145 pounds of marijuana.  The combined estimated street value of the narcotics is $2,679,000.

The suspects, narcotics and vehicle were turned over the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the law enforcement uniforms.

 

Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert Otero and Attorney General Kamala D. Harris visit a drug tunnel at the Mexican border earlier this year.

Law enforcement leaders from across the state of California today criticized the deep cuts to the Department of Justice’s law enforcement budget that specifically targeted anti-gang and anti-drug programs.

The general fund reduction proposals would reduce by $71 million the budget of the Division of Law Enforcement. This could lead to the loss of several hundred special agents and other personnel, the dissolution of 55 statewide task forces – many of which coordinate responses to transnational gang and drug crime – and the loss of investigators on the state’s new Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. As a result, two entire law enforcement bureaus could be shut down, the Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence (BII) and the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE).

California Narcotic Officers’ Association President James C. Hodges:
“Yesterday’s budget agreement contained a bad surprise – the budget decimated the General Fund resources available to Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office for law enforcement purposes. The impact of these cuts will be the shutting down of all BNE task forces, as well as their offices. Each of you may recall that these same cuts were proposed in 2009 during the Schwarzenegger administration. Fortunately, the Legislature wisely rejected those proposed cuts. The reasons for rejecting those cuts in 2009 are as valid today as they were in 2009. In fact, they have become accentuated over the past two years. It is fact that the Mexican drug cartels have dramatically increased their profile in California… Additionally, the significant challenges local law enforcement will face in 2011 with public safety realignment is further reason to restore the BNE task forces. The fact is that the loss of BNE task forces will force local law enforcement – who will tell you frankly that they lack the expertise to deal with these sophisticated, multi-national criminal enterprises – to put scarce resources to fill the void left by the loss of BNE task forces. This is a diversion of local law enforcement resources that will unacceptably undermine their efforts to make public safety realignment work.”

Cocaine seized from the Mexican Drug Cartel by the Drug Task Force

Irvine Police Chief and California Police Chiefs Association President Dave Maggard:
“There were strong imperatives that existed in 2009 and still exist today for the restoration of the BNE (Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement) and still exist today for restoration of the BNE task forces: the Mexican drug cartels are steadily moving their operations into the California; drug cartel violence is already spilling over into the United States; the Sinaloa Cartel is becoming firmly entrenched in California; FBI sources with whom we have spoken believe that a majority of the 200 reported abductions in California are attributable to Mexican drug cartels enforcing their business arrangements; and prosecutors are noting a disturbing diversification of the cartels where they are also engaged in human sex trafficking, as well as their more “traditional” methamphetamine trafficking….Local law enforcement relies on the ability of the BNE task force to combat the increasingly sophisticated crime families involved in drug trafficking and in human trafficking.”

This weapon was sized from the drug cartel and is known as the cop killer, shooting armor piercing bullets.

California District Attorneys Association President Gregory D. Totten:
“If this cut is allowed to stand, numerous entities within DOJ will be devastated. Though funded by the Restitution Fund, the Witness Relocation and Protection Program is staffed by DOJ personnel. A reduction in services within this program jeopardizes the ability of law enforcement to protect and relocate vital witnesses. Of additional concern is the potential negative impact on forensic services provided by DOJ. State forensic labs assist counties across the state with blood-alcohol and drug testing that is crucial to all types of prosecutions. This cut portends access to justice issues inasmuch as the availability of these services will become less uniform, specifically in counties that do not have local labs.”

Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert G. Otero:
“As a district attorney in a county bordering Mexico, I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to cut $71 million from the Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement’s budget. Such a move would have a major negative impact on public safety in my county, in the state and across the entire nation.”

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis:
“The purpose of this letter is to share my concern with the proposed cuts to the California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE). As the elected District Attorney of San Diego County, my office investigates and prosecutes crime along California’s border on a daily basis. It is through collaboration with the Division of Law Enforcement that we are able to see results from our efforts to stem the tide of violent crime crossing into California….The work of the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Bureau of Intelligence and Investigations is a key piece to a statewide strategy to prevent gang crime….I understand the challenges in balancing the state’s budget, but urge you to keep in mind that most local law enforcement agencies are taking severe staffing reductions, especially the smaller agencies, and we will need the assistance of DLE more than ever….”

Governor Brown praises the efforts of the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Task Force while he visited the Imperial Valley as California Attorney General

East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald L. Davis:
“The purpose of this letter is to share my concern with the proposed cuts to the California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE). …On June 5, 2011, two young men fired over a dozen bullets into a vehicle containing an innocent family of four leaving a baby shower in East Palo Alto. …The heinous nature of this shooting shocked the entire Bay Area and underscores the real and serious danger gangs pose to our communities. Our response to this tragedy must extend beyond the arrest of the two killers: it must include holding the Nortenos and Surenos accountable as well. In order to do this, I need the assistance of DLE; otherwise, we are battling these gangs with 39 officers.”

In a statement released last night, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said:
“The proposed $71 million cut will cripple California’s statewide anti-gang and drug trafficking operations. Our Division of Law Enforcement leads 50 task forces across the state that target criminal gangs and drug trafficking organizations. Earlier this month, one of these task forces took down 101 leaders and members of two transnational gangs terrorizing California’s Central Valley. Last month, we announced the seizure of over 100 lbs of methamphetamine and the arrests of more than 30 gang members in the Bay Area. These cuts will eliminate many, if not all, of these task forces and jeopardize many ongoing investigations.”

 
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