From the daily archives: Tuesday, December 13, 2011

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Southern California seized more than 158 tons of narcotics and stopped more than 100,000 attempts to enter the country illegally during federal fiscal year 2011.


The federal fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) runs from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011, and the totals above for CBP in Southern California include statistics from the CBP Office of Field Operations San Diego Field Office, the U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector, and the U.S. Border Patrol El Centro Sector.


Also during FY2011, the San Diego Air and Marine Branch of CBP logged more than 5,200 hours at sea, securing the ocean border near Southern California, and more than 8,100 hours in the skies above.  The El Centro Air Branch also contributed more than 2,500 hours of flight time securing U.S. borders.  These missions, in support of not just CBP operations, but also operations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and many other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies helped officials stop illegal activity both near the border, as well as in other parts of California, as far north as Sacramento.


Here are some enforcement and workload highlights for CBP in Southern California during fiscal year 2011.


  At the Ports of Entry – FY2010 At the Ports of Entry – FY2011 Between the Ports of Entry – San Diego Sector FY2010 Between the Ports of Entry – San Diego Sector FY2011 Between the Ports of Entry – El Centro Sector FY2010 Between the Ports of Entry – El Centro Sector FY2011 Combined California Corridor Activity – FY2011


Illegal Entry Apprehensions








Marijuana (lbs.)








Cocaine (lbs.)








Heroin (lbs.)








Methamphetamine (lbs.)








San Diego Field Office, CBP Office of Field Operations (at the ports of entry)

  • CBP officers performed more than 62.5 million inspections for travelers entering the U.S., including inspections of about:  24,652,515 passenger vehicles; 1,102,534 trucks; 101,061 buses; and 16,429,429 pedestrians.
  • CBP officers seized $5,767,267 in hidden and unreported currency heading out of the United States illegally.
  • CBP officers with the San Diego Field Office accounted for 31 percent of the marijuana, 29 percent of the cocaine, 29 percent of the heroin, and 69 percent of the methamphetamine seized at air, sea, and land ports of entry nationwide.
  • CBP agriculture specialists performed 7,768,628 agricultural inspections in the passenger environment and 60,290 inspections in the cargo environment.  These inspections resulted in 78,651 seizures of prohibited plant materials, soil, meat, or animal products and finding 977 cargo shipments that did not meet the U.S. entry requirements, causing the shipments to be either sent back, treated, or destroyed.
  • CBP officers stopped 2,046 wanted fugitives with active felony warrants for their arrest for such crimes as homicide, robbery and assault by local, state or federal police agencies.  This compares to 1,774 apprehensions for the same period last year.
  • At cargo processing facilities in Southern California, CBP personnel collected an estimated $150 million in duties, money which goes into the national treasury to fund government expenditures.  CBP officers and import specialist processed merchandise, imported into the U.S., worth and estimated $33.3 billion.
  • The San Diego Field Office includes almost 2,000 front-line CBP officers, agriculture specialists, and support staff.


San Diego Sector, U.S. Border Patrol, CBP

  • U.S. Border Patrol agents performed 19 rescue missions, rescuing 27 people, compared to 27 missions rescuing 44 people last fiscal year.
  • There were 77 assaults against U.S. Border Patrol agents, compared to 130 last fiscal year.
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents recorded 14 deaths within their area of responsibility, compared to eight last fiscal year.
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents seized almost $2 million during the past fiscal year.
  • The San Diego Sector includes approximately 2,800 U.S. Border Patrol agents and other personnel.


El Centro Sector, U.S. Border Patrol, CBP

  • U.S. Border Patrol agents performed eight rescue missions, rescuing 28 people, compared to 20 missions rescuing 39 people last fiscal year.
  • There were 124 assaults against U.S. Border Patrol agents, compared to 130 last fiscal year.
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents recorded five deaths within their area of responsibility, compared to 14 last fiscal year.
  • The El Centro Sector includes approximately 1,260 U.S. Border Patrol agents and other personnel.


San Diego Air and Marine Branch, CBP Office of Air and Marine

  • Personnel contributed to more than 4,040 apprehensions of persons attempting illegal activity.
  • Personnel contributed to 58 weapons, 50 vehicles, 28 maritime vessels, and one aircraft seized.
  • Because of missions completed by personnel, more than $11 million was seized.
  • Air Interdiction Agents, Marine Interdiction Agents, and other personnel seized 776,263 pounds of marijuana, 824 pounds of cocaine, 671 pounds of methamphetamine, and nine pounds of heroin during operations along the border, joint operations with the U.S. Border Patrol, and operations in support of other law enforcement agencies throughout California.


El Centro Air Branch, CBP Office of Air and Marine

  • Air Interdiction Agents performed 34 rescue missions.  (Please note, this number represents events, not individuals.  One event could involve multiple individuals.)
  • Personnel contributed to 2,522 apprehensions of persons attempting to enter the country illegally, as well as 47 arrests of people allegedly conducting illegal activity related to immigration violations and other crimes.
  • Personnel contributed to 36 vehicles, one maritime vessel, one aircraft, and one weapon seized.
  • Air Interdiction Agents, together with other personnel seized 10,198 pounds of marijuana and 41 pounds of heroin during operations along the border, joint operations with the U.S. Border Patrol, and operations in support of other law enforcement agencies throughout California.


Maritime Interdictions

CBP is a member agency of the Maritime Unified Command in Southern California.  The Maritime Unified Command is also comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as state and local law enforcement partners operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime domain.  The Maritime Unified Command utilizes the fusion of intelligence, planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the southern California coastal border.

  • In FY 2011, maritime security by MUC member agencies resulted in the apprehension of 631 persons related to a maritime smuggling incident, including illegal aliens, U.S. citizens charged with smuggling, and non-U.S. citizens charged with smuggling, compared to 867 the previous fiscal year.
  • During FY2011, MUC activities resulted in about 25,037 pounds of marijuana seized and 122 conveyances seized, such as boats, vehicles, trailers, jet skis, and other motorized conveyances, compared to about 27,440 pounds of marijuana and 160 pounds of other narcotics as well as 110 conveyances seized the previous fiscal year.


Within CBP, the Office of Field Operations is responsible for all activity at the legal ports of entry into the United States for commercial and regular traffic, whether arriving by land, air, or sea.  The San Diego Field Office includes all border crossings into the United States along the California/Mexico border at San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate, Calexico, and Andrade, as well as seaport and airport operations.


As a part of CBP, the U.S. Border Patrol reduces the likelihood that dangerous people and capabilities enter the U.S. between official ports of entry.  Additionally, Border Patrol Agents operate strategically located checkpoints at areas of egress from the border while continuously targeting the transnational criminal organizations that pose the greatest risk to our communities.  The San Diego Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol has an area of responsibility that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to approximately the center of California, where the El Centro Sector takes responsibility for most of border from there to the California/Arizona border.


CBP Office of Air and Marine operates the world’s largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization, and has two branches in Southern California, the San Diego Air and Marine Branch and the El Centro Air Branch.  The San Diego Air and Marine Branch features maritime units headquartered out of North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, as well as air units stationed at Brown Field Airport near Otay Mesa, North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, Sacramento, and Riverside, Calif., and an aviation facility in Pine Valley, Calif.  The El Centro Air Branch is located in Imperial, Calif, and patrols all of Imperial County and the inland portions of Riverside County.


Here is some brief analysis of the trends faced by CBP in Southern California during fiscal year 2011.


According to Chris Maston, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego, “We have an incredible responsibility at the ports of entry to not only interdict illegal activity that we encounter, but also to speed legitimate travel and trade into the United States.  These numbers tell the story of the impressive job that our officers, agents, and others in San Diego accomplish everyday.  Part of how we accomplish this is by using layered systems to identify high-risk passengers and cargo for examination, compressing the amount of questionable passengers and cargo which allows officers to focus on those deemed high-risk.  But the threats remain, and we will continue to leverage our technology, intelligence gathering, and personnel at the ports of entry to stop all violations and to keep this country safe.”


According to San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Paul Beeson of the U.S. Border Patrol, “Numbers for Southern California reflect the national trends, with narcotics interdictions on the rise and illegal alien apprehensions falling.  Locally, we see our increased enforcement efforts driving transnational criminal organizations to attempt new routes and new methods for their illegal activity, leading to our continued discovery of tunnels, for example.”


According to El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jeffrey Calhoon of the U.S. Border Patrol, “We continue to work at strengthening our partnerships both within CBP and with other law enforcement agencies in San Diego and Imperial counties, as well as in Mexico.  As we face emerging threats, such as the ultralight aircraft we are increasingly spotting during attempts to smuggle narcotics into the United States, we will leverage those partnerships to detect these threats, deter illegal activity, and ultimately dismantle the illegal operations.”


According to Bill Raymond, Director of Air Operations for CBP in San Diego, “Here in Southern California, one trend we continue to see is an increase in maritime activity.  This is a threat that law enforcement officials foresaw several years ago, as enforcement along the land border increased, and responded to by creating the Maritime Unified Command, a partnership among local, state, and federal partners to combat the emerging threat.  These partnerships continue to strengthen and are successful, as evidenced by these criminal organizations being forced to go further out to sea, and further north.  These routes are more difficult, but they choose to use them during their unsuccessful attempts to elude authorities.”


According to Robert Baker, Director of Air Operations for CBP in El Centro, “The desert environment in Imperial Valley is harsh and dangerous.  Transnational criminal organizations use these areas as smuggling routes which clearly demonstrates their willingness to place profits over the concern for others.  Our 34 rescue missions demonstrate CBP’s commitment and concern in protecting our borders while saving lives.”


The California Highway Patrol (CHP) urges motorists to avoid distractions behind the wheel
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The holiday travel season is in full swing and the roads are crowded
with vehicles. If that wasn’t challenging enough, add to it the occasional winter storm. With so
much happening outside of the vehicle, the CHP is unleashing a traffic safety campaign
reminding motorists to focus on driving, and worry about all the other distractions after they
have safely arrived at their destination.
“There are so many drivers who understand the dangers of distracted driving and focus their
attention on the road instead of responding to a phone call or text message,” said CHP
Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Unfortunately, many drivers still don’t understand the hazards, yet
statistics has shown that traffic collisions caused by distracted driving are on the rise. This
campaign focuses on these individuals.”
Distracted driving is one of the leading contributors to collisions and near-collisions. According
to the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, in 2009, California drivers age 20
years or older were involved in more than 23,000 collisions within CHP jurisdiction in which
inattention was documented as an associated factor.
“The CHP urges drivers to stay focused on the primary task of driving,” added Commissioner
Farrow. “Through education and enforcement, we are dedicated to curb this dangerous
The yearlong, grant-funded Adult Distracted Driving II campaign consists of an education
component, as well as several distracted driver enforcement operations throughout the state. By
the end of the grant, Sept. 30, 2012, a minimum of 50 distracted driving enforcement operations
will have been conducted, and at least 20 traffic safety presentations completed.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety
through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


By Mario Conde

The Calexico Planning Commission unanimously approved the Palazzo Specific Plan at the regular Monday meeting.

The project approved last Monday proposes to ultimately construct 1,207 residential units, parks space, open areas/pedestrian linkages, a mixed use village, and streets/right-of-way. Also, a landscape retention basin is proposed along the north side of the boundary. The Palazzo Community is a project presented by Westmount Properties and it’s a 165 acre project South of Jasper Road, North of the Central Main Canal and East of Meadows Road. Westmount Properties owner, Steve Hyman, said that this project has been in the works since 2006 and this project will be beneficial for the City of Calexico and its residents.


The Palazzo Community provides zero lot line units, multi-family units, including four and 6-plex apartments, a large community park, mixed use area, other amenities for future residents, and a possible site for a future second Catholic  Church here in Calexico.  The Residential portion of the project will have 340 Multi-Family Apartments, 256 6-plex townhomes, and a mixed use village of 113 units. The Commercial mixed use village will be 150,000 sq. ft.


The Community Park will be 19.31 acres and the possible amenities would have a country club, tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts, tot lot, picnic area, and a gazebo. The mixed use area will consist of commercial and retail space, and there may be apartments above. The mixed use will be located in the center of the community next to the park.


The Residential units at Palazzo are medium to high density ranging from 7.4 units per acre to 18 units per acre. Garcia said that because of the 19 acres community park and 13 acres of retention basin the overall density for the entire Palazzo Planned Community will be 7.33 units per acre.

The proposed Church will be 10 acres and would reduce the total units by 87, and reduce density to 6.81 units per acre if enacted.


There will be four access points to Palazzo which will be two off of Meadows Road, and two off the proposed Bonita Road. Both Bonita and Meadows intersect with Jasper Road to the North of the project and Meadows Rd will extend South over the Central Main Canal to connect to Andrade Ave.


The Commission voted 5-0 in favor of this project.


By Mario Conde

The Calexico Planning Commission approved the long awaited De Anza II housing project for low income senior citizens.

The project will be located adjacent to the Historic De Anza Hotel which has been a landmark in Calexico since the early 1930’s. The architecture theme of the new proposed building has been designed to incorporating similar massing, character and details as the original De Anza Hotel which is considered Meditarrean with heavy stucco exterior, arched front arcades, and Spanish tile roofing. The projects consists of the construction of a three story building with 54 senior efficiency units, and adequate parking for both senior living in the existing converted De Anza Hotel and residents of the new addition. The typical unit consists of approximately 333 s.f. and includes a kitchenette off the entry, a spacious sleeping/living area and a fully ADA accessible bathroom. A lounge with kitchen located just of the lobby and management/leasing office will be provided on the ground floor.  Additionally, an elevator will serve all three levels of the building.

The applicant proposes not to build the covered concrete parking structure included under the Conditional Use Permit. The project will provide a total of 53 parking spaces within the premises, a reduction of the required 0.6 spaces per unit and the one per each employee for a Retirement Hotel. In addition, the proposed building’s front is requesting consideration for the reduction in the ratio of required parking stalls, and that minor encroachments into the building setback be allowed as concession permitted under California Government Code for the development of housing projects which provide 15% or more efficiency units for persons or families of very low income.

The applicant conducted a survey of the existing De Anza Senior complex parking lot in September 2011, three times per day for 6 days. In October 2011, and also researched information on parking statistics for senior housing projects not only in Calexico such as the Alejandro Rivera Senior Housing Project but also analyzed other current Affordable Housing Parking Studies prepared by SANDAG which recommended  much lower ratios than previously thought. The applicant also took a census of how many seniors living within the De Anza also owned vehicles. Based on the wind-shield survey and census studies, the project as proposed would require 49 parking spaces. A total of 53 parking spaces will be provided without the two level parking structures, a reduction of the required 0.6 spaces per unit and one per each employee for a Retirement Hotels.

Tim Baker representing Chelsea Corporation said that they are very close to securing the money for the construction of the De Anza II. Baker also said that Chelsea will also invest an additional $50,000 on development impact fees for the project. Baker said that they have been talking to City Manager Oscar Rodriquez and have talked about the possibility of using that $50,000 for senior services.

As reported by the Calexico Chronicle, Chelsea Investments submitted an application in the amount of $5 Million. Additional funding will be secured by Chelsea Investments through State Tax Credit funding. Chelsea plans to build 54 additional units to the De Anza Hotels that will be available to senior citizens. If the grant is awarded, the grant will be made to the City of Calexico and will include funding for administration of grant proceeds. The City will provide a deferred low interest loan of 3% to Chelsea for 30 years. During that time, the City of Calexico is required to monitor the units and ascertain that the units are affordable and meet additional requirements placed by the State.


The De Anza hotel currently provides 94 studio apartments for low-income seniors in Calexico.  Chelsea has spent more than a year planning to develop 54 additional studio apartments to be built on the current parking lot of the De Anza Hotel. An unobtrusive above-ground parking structure will be built on a portion of existing parking lot to provide parking for both the existing and new apartment units.

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