Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 25, 2007

Most Censored: National Guardsmen, cops smuggling cocaine at US/Mexico border

Photo: National Guard troops arrived at the border, after President Bush’s said it would help bolster homeland security and border patrol activities along the 1,950-mile border. PHOTO DOD

Smuggling drugs -- Members of Immigration and Naturalization Service, Arizona Army National Guard, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Army, Arizona Department of Corrections, Airforce Security Squadron and Nogales Police Department -- sentencing in federal court.
By Brenda Norrell

TUCSON -- While television news reporters want the public to believe that the Arizona Army National Guardsmen, Airforce and border agents were the saviors, protecting the US border, court cases are now revealing US soldiers and agents anxious to run keys of cocaine in uniform from the Mexican border.

The FBI shut down the sting operation, "Operation Lively Green," because so many US soldiers wanted to smuggle drugs in uniform using official vehicles, from the border at Nogales, Ariz., north to Tucson and Phoenix, between 2002 and 2004.

There are now 99 cases -- including a National Guard Sargent who recruited soldiers under his command in Tucson, an Army recruiter in Tucson, police in Nogales, prison guards, Airforce security personnel and other public officials -- all caught in the act of drug smuggling. Court cases are now underway Tucson.

The arrests reveal a more accurate view of the border, far from the hype of television news.

The Arizona FBI sting was related to an Oklahoma FBI sting, "Operation Tarnished Star." National Guardsmen were running cocaine from Texas to Oklahoma.

The Arizona sting also resulted in the arrest of Davis Monthan Airforce men in the Security Squadron in Tucson smuggling drugs.

Tohono O'odham and other border residents have opposed the militarization of the border. They want the National Guard and other military out of the region.

Living in the militarized zone and surrounded by border agents on the ground, residents are spied on from the air and have lost their right to privacy. Border residents are the focus of harassment and increased dangers from speeding border agents and corrupt and drug running soldiers and border agents.

As one Tohono O'odham put it: "With all these helicopters, Border Patrol and supposed-trackers, why can't they find even one of our O'odham who goes missing in the desert?"

Derechos Humanos Coalicion says the increased militarization has only led to more deaths, by pushing migrants into more desolate areas of the desert, where deaths from dehydration and heat have increased this summer.

Breaking news, sentencing in Tucson ...
Michael Marizco: Border Reporter
Arizona Daily Star: National Guardsmen running cocaine: 'Just following orders'
Army soldiers sentenced in drug sting
Davis Monthan Airforce, Security Forces Squadron, soldiers caught smuggling drugs in sting:
Army and Marine recruiters ran cocaine operations in Tucson

Tohono O'odham ran over by Border Patrol

By Brenda NorrellAngelita Ramon believes that her son, 18-year-old Bennett Patricio, Jr., was intentionally ran over and killed by Border Patrol agents on Tohono O'odham tribal land near the border.

Based on the evidence, Ramon believes that her son -- while walking home at 3 a.m. through the desert -- walked upon a drug transfer underway by Border Patrol agents on April 9, 2002.

The family filed a civil suit against the US Border Patrol, but the US District Court in Tucson ruled in favor of the Border Patrol. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco recently failed to rule in the family's favor.

However, Ramon's next option, if she can find an attorney, is to file murder charges against the Border Patrol agents at the scene. Read more of the story ...

The Border Patrol is a death squad. They are operating like they do in Central and South America, because no one can hold them accountable,” said Jimbo Simmons, member of the International Indian Treaty Council, during the Summit Aug. 29 – Oct. 1, 2006.

Photo: Angelita Ramon, Tohono O'odham, at Indigenous Border Summit of the Americas on San Xavier tribal land, Oct. 2006/Photo Brenda Norrell

US agents drug smuggling raises new questions about the truth of the deaths of two border agents, and an ICE agent, in southern Arizona in 2004:

Border agents were believed a murder-suicide, while ICE agent Tom DeRouchey, Cheyenne River Sioux, was said to be suicide in 2004

Murder-suicide likely in border agent deathsBy Michael Marizco and Scott Simonson
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 06.12.2004

TUCSON -- Two U.S. Border Patrol agents died in an apparent murder-suicide south of Tucson early Friday, officials said.
The two agents, a 45-year-oldman and a 31-year-old woman, were from the El Paso Sector in Texas, said El Paso Sector spokesman Doug Mosier.
The male agent, Arturo Betancourt, was a supervisory agent who had been on the job for 15 years.
The woman, Elizabeth Granillo, had been an agent for two years.
Mosier said he didn't know whether Betancourt was Granillo's supervisor. He also wouldn't say whether they'd been in a relationship.
The bodies were found in a vehicle about 10 miles southwest of Tucson on the San Xavier Reservation, said Chief Richard Saunders of the Tohono O'odham Police Department.
He said the woman had been shot three times and the man once. They were not in uniform, but were identified by agency credentials found on their bodies. No suicide note was found at the scene, about a mile southeast of Mission San Xavier del Bac, he said. One handgun was found.
Police found the bodies about 2:30 a.m. Friday when they responded to a report of an abandoned vehicle on a dirt road near Interstate 19.
The FBI, which has jurisdiction in certain felonies on Indian reservations, did a preliminary investigation, then turned the case over to tribal police, said FBI spokeswoman Susan Herskovits.
Meanwhile, agents in El Paso will have counseling services made available to them through the agency, Mosier said.
The last off-duty Border Patrol agent to die in the region was Jorge Luis Salomon, 23.
Salomon had traveled to Cananea, Sonora, in February 2003 after befriending a man who was a drug-smuggler. They joined others in Cananea and when they learned Salomon was a Border Patrol agent, they beat him to death.
Four people are in custody in Sonora pending an investigation. A fifth remains at large.
The last known suicide of a federal agent in Southern Arizona was U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement interim director Tom V. DeRouchey.
He shot himself in March while driving on Interstate 10 in Marana on his way to a press conference in Tucson.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The more people involved on the b0rder increases the likelihood of drug smuggling. Those in the U.S. military are trained to believe they are invulnerable which increases their daring. This in combination with greed and the fact that many already have criminal backgrounds and may be poor provide the necessary ingredients for crimes by them along the border.