From the daily archives: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Calexico, CA. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico ports of entry arrested two U.S. citizens for allegedly attempting to smuggle over a half million dollars worth of narcotics into the United States.

The first incident occurred on September 14, when a CBP officer conducting inspections of vehicles and travelers referred a 21-year-old female U.S. citizen driving a blue 2006 Ford F-150 pick-up truck for further examination.

An intensive inspection that included a canine screening led officers to the discovery of 12 wrapped packages of cocaine concealed inside the front frame rail of the vehicle. The weight of the narcotic was 41 pounds with a street value of approximately $369,000.

The driver, a resident of Mexicali, Baja California, was arrested for the alleged narcotic smuggling attempt.

The second incident occurred on September 15, when a CBP officer conducting inspections of vehicles and travelers referred a 30-year-old male U.S. citizen for further examination after detecting anomalies with the driver’s story.

An intensive examination, that included a narcotic detector dog, led to the discovery of 23 wrapped packages of methamphetamine concealed inside non-factory compartments in the rocker panels of the red Ford Mustang. The weight of the narcotic was 26 pounds with a street value of approximately $286,000.

The driver, also a resident of Mexicali, Baja California, was arrested for the narcotic smuggling attempt.

Both individuals were turned over to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents and transported to the Imperial County Jail where they await arraignment. CBP seized the narcotics and vehicles involved in both failed attempts.


San Diego— U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at San Diego area border crossings recently confiscated more than 8,800 pounds of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine valued at $8.2 million and stopped the entry of more than 116 inadmissible aliens.

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This 7,903 pounds of marijuana will not make onto American streets because of the exceptional work of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa, CA cargo facility.
This 7,903 pounds of marijuana will not make onto American streets because of the exceptional work of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa, CA cargo facility.

“The fact that the port and field office are still maintaining an excellent enforcement posture given the challenges faced this week is a true credit to the Port of San Ysidro, the San Diego Field Office, and to Customs and Border Protection as a whole,” said Kevin McAleenan, CBP Office of Field Operations Deputy Assistant Commissioner.

The largest seizure occurred at 9 a.m. on September 15, in the Otay Mesa cargo facility after a 29-year-old male Mexican citizen, driving a 1996 Kenworth tractor pulling a trailer, entered the port with cargo manifested as plastic materials. During questioning, the CBP officer noticed inconsistencies with the driver’s answers and referred the driver and conveyance for an intensive examination.

CBP officers unloaded the merchandise, opened the boxes and discovered 404 large wrapped packages of marijuana, weighing 7,903 pounds. CBP arrested the driver and seized the marijuana and tractor-trailer.

On September 14, CBP officers screening pedestrian travelers at the San Ysidro port of entry stopped a 54-year-old male U.S. citizen for questioning at 11 p.m. CBP officers subsequently found six packages of marijuana, weighing seven pounds, taped to the man’s abdomen and thighs. CBP officers arrested the man and seized the marijuana.

Also on September 14, at the nearby Otay Mesa passenger port, a CBP officer screening vehicle and travelers targeted a 34-year-old female U.S. citizen driving a 1999 Ford Explorer. The officer noticed her nervous demeanor and escorted her and the vehicle for a more in-depth examination.

CBP officers ran the Explorer through the port’s imaging system which revealed anomalies within all four tires. Officers cut open all four tires and discovered metal canisters wrapped around the rims containing 158 pounds of marijuana. CBP officers arrested the woman and seized both the vehicle and marijuana.

On September 15 at the San Ysidro border crossing, a canine team was screening vehicles waiting to enter the United States when a detector dog alerted to a 2004 Ford Ranger driven by a 22-year-old male U.S. citizen. CBP officers escorted the man and vehicle for further inspection where they discovered 17 wrapped packages of methamphetamine weighing 39 pounds inside the gas tank of the pickup truck.

CBP officers arrested the man and seized the vehicle and methamphetamine.

CBP officers also stopped 116 illegal aliens who attempted to illegally enter the country by hiding within vehicles; presenting fraudulent documents; or presenting valid documents not legally issued to them. Some individuals had also been previously deported.

At about 10:45 a.m. on September 14, there was a collapse of scaffolding being used for construction at the San Ysidro port of entry. The collapse occurred just north of the primary inspection booths in the U.S. To safeguard the public and CBP personnel, the port was closed until the situation could be resolved.


Pine Valley, CA. — U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Interstate 8 checkpoint near Pine Valley arrested a lawfully admitted permanent resident for smuggling more than 330 pounds of cocaine in a tractor trailer yesterday.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., agents encountered a 46-year-old male Mexican national as he arrived at the checkpoint driving a red 1998 Freightliner tractor trailer. During inspection, agents became suspicious of the truck driver’s nervous demeanor and referred him for a secondary inspection.

A Border Patrol canine team performed a cursory inspection of the tractor trailer resulting in a positive alert. Further inspection revealed two non-factory compartments inside the fuel tanks. Agents discovered 130 bundles of cocaine with a total weight of more than 334 pounds and an estimated street value of $3,346,600 inside the compartments.

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78 bundles of marijuana seized, estimated at $250,000.
78 bundles of marijuana seized, estimated at $250,000.

Tuesday, agents assigned to the Interstate 15 checkpoint near Temecula arrested a 21-year-old male United States citizen for smuggling 78 bundles of marijuana in the rear seat and trunk of a white 2004 Dodge Stratus. The total weight of the drugs was more than 416 pounds with an estimated street value of nearly $250,000.

In addition, Border Patrol agents stopped the 20-year-old male United States citizen driver of a silver 2004 Chrysler Pacifica near the I-15 checkpoint on Friday. A Border Patrol canine team positively alerted to the rear seat of the vehicle, resulting in the discovery of an electronically locked compartment below the vehicle’s third row seat. Agents opened the non-factory compartment and discovered 10 bundles of cocaine with a total weight of more than 25 pounds and worth an estimated $251,300.

The suspected smugglers and drugs from the three incidents were taken into custody and subsequently turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The tractor trailer, Dodge Stratus, and Chrysler Pacifica were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

To prevent illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on major corridors of egress away from our nation’s borders. Since October 1, 2010, San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents have seized more than 2,100 pounds of cocaine, 473 pounds of methamphetamine, and 68,550 pounds of marijuana.


Letter to Director DeMarco Calls for Swift Action to Allow Homeowners to Take Advantage of Record Low Interest Rates


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) today urged the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to expedite its efforts to help millions of responsible homeowners refinance so that borrowers can take advantage of today’s record low interest rates.


In a letter to FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco, the Senators pointed to recent news that demonstrates the need for urgent action: Last week, interest rates for 30-year home mortgages hit 4.09 percent – the lowest rate in 60 years. At the same time, new figures show that foreclosures continue unabated and millions of borrowers who are “underwater” on their homes remain stuck with above-market interest rates and would benefit from refinancing.


The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently announced that it had already begun a review of ways to help more homeowners refinance. Senators Boxer and Isakson urged Director DeMarco to move swiftly to complete this review and announce the steps the agency will take to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and save thousands of dollars by refinancing.


“Every day, more struggling homeowners fall behind on their payments,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you not to delay further and ask that you provide us a timeline of expected next steps.”


Senators Boxer and Isakson have been urging action to help non-delinquent borrowers refinance and have sponsored the Helping Responsible Homeowners Act, a bipartisan bill that would help up to two million Americans refinance at lower rates.


The full text of the letter is below:

September 20, 2011

The Honorable Edward DeMarco

Acting Director

Federal Housing Finance Agency

1700 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20552


Dear Acting Director DeMarco:


We were heartened by your statement following the President’s speech to the Congress that you are moving toward reducing the barriers that are keeping millions of homeowners from refinancing to take advantage of record low interest rates.


News from this past week alone underscored the importance of moving quickly:


  • Interest rates for 30-year home mortgages dropped to 4.09 percent – the lowest rate in 60 years.


  • CoreLogic reported that nearly 75 percent of the 10.9 million borrowers with negative equity also have “above market rates” and could benefit from a refinance.  If the same is true for borrowers in loans backed by Fannie and Freddie, that would equal 3.75 million underwater homeowners paying more than they should.


  • Foreclosures continue unabated.  According to RealtyTrac, first-time default notices surged nationally in August as filings were issued on 78,880 homes, a nine month high and an increase of 33% from July.


Together, these statistics paint a picture of homeowners desperate for help.  While we continue to pursue our bipartisan bill to reduce barriers that have trapped responsible borrowers in higher interest loans, taking such steps administratively would provide immediate relief to these borrowers.


Doing so would be good not only for homeowners, but also for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The Congressional Budget Office has indicated that implementing the provisions in the Helping Responsible Homeowners Act or other similar approaches would save the agencies hundreds of millions of dollars.


Every day, more struggling homeowners fall behind on their payments.  We urge you not to delay further and ask that you provide us a timeline of expected next steps.


Thank you, and we look forward to your response.




Barbara Boxer                                                                        

United States Senator


Johnny Isakson

United States Senator


By Mario Conde

The Measure H Committee approved funds to support the Calexico Dial-A-Ride program this past Monday.

The Calexico City Council discussed this item at their regular meeting three weeks ago were they were informed about the reduction of funding for the program. On May 18, 2011, the General Services Department submitted a budget request to Imperial County Transportation Commission of $402,151. Unfortunately, the City was allocated funding for the 2011-12 FY in the amount of $351,007. In the past three years there has been a decrease in funding for the Calexico Dial-A-Ride Program from $441,112 in 2008 to $351,007 in last fiscal year.

The General Services Department has looked into various options. These options include increasing fare, reducing service hours, eliminating Sunday services and/or eliminating buses. The City of Calexico is the only City within the Imperial County that provides seven day services with this program. One of the options was to increase the fare to $1.50 and keep the same level of services. The ICTC is considering the consolidation of all the Dial-A-Ride programs in the Imperial Valley under one umbrella. The Council gave direction to staff to look for other options to finance the Dial-A-Ride program, since they want to keep the same level of services.

The Measure H board approved the recommendation of funding for $51,144 with the condition that  General Services Director, Nick Fenley, brings back a survey that will be done to senior citizens in regards to the decrease of services of the Dial-A-Ride. When the survey is done and after its defined how the services will change, the commission will revisit the issue and will issue a new recommendation as to how much the funding will be for the program.

In other items, the Measure H Board approved funding for one school resource. In a report given by Police Chief Jim Neujahr, the current fiscal situation facing the Calexico Unified School District for this school year, CUSD will not be able to fund two SRO positions as in the past years. The cost for one SRO will be $110, 343, included salaries and benefits for one year. The board approved the proposal but with the condition the funding will only until January.

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