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ThursdayFebruary 24, 2011

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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5 Puerto Ricans Charged with RICO Crimes Involving 21 Murders, Must Foreiture $46 Million in Gains

Five Puerto Rican defendants are charged in a 17-count indictment with: violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity, use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of a firearm with a prior conviction.

The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization which engaged in narcotics distribution and acts of violence, including murder, in Puerto Rico. Between 1993 through October 2009, the defendants conducted the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity involving narcotics trafficking, murder, and attempted murder.

The indictment details 21 murders committed and/or ordered by defendant Alexis Candelario-Santana, aka “Congo.” Candelario-Santana is also the alleged mastermind of the massacre which occurred on October 17, 2009, in the business establishment known as “La Tómbola” in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, where eight people were killed and over 20 injured. Candelario-Santana was previously charged in a complaint for firearms violations and arrested on December 15, 2009.

The other defendants are: Carmelo Rondón-Feliciano, aka “Omi,” Christian López-Lebrón, Wilfredo Candelario-Santana, aka “Coper,” and David Oquendo-Rivas, aka “Gordo.” Oquendo-Rivas is charged in counts two through 14 with violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity, including the murder of eight people during the La Tómbola Massacre. All defendants are facing a RICO forfeiture allegation for at least $46,720,000.

If convicted, Candelario-Santana and Oquendo-Rivas could face the death penalty.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Funeral Parlor In Spain Breaks Paradigms of Architecture and Interior Design

Funeral Parlor In Spain Breaks Paradigms of Architecture and Interior Design

Photo: New Funeral Parlor In Spain

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A visually-striking new funeral home in coastal Spain demonstrates that death, and funerals, and funeral homes, don’t necessarily have to be dreadfully depressing.

Take a look at these pictures from the Funeral Home and Garden in Pinoso, created by COR architects.

Architectonic and interior design statements brought on by a funeral parlor may seem like a strange concept.  Who takes a breather to appreciate the architecture of the place after losing a loved one?

The architects said “We understand this building as a place that will resist being forgotten, remaining in the retinas of their users, and therefore a place where the sensitive realm has to be controlled. Parameters such as sound, temperature, light, humidity, lighting, privacy, relationship with nature become very important.”

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Read more by HS News Staff →

San Diego Murder-For-Hire Case Shows “Glaring Example of Cross-Border Violence.”

San Diego Murder-For-Hire Case Shows “Glaring Example of Cross-Border Violence.”

Photo: Cross border violence

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A recent murder-for-hire case has highlighted what one attorney called a “glaring example of cross-border violence.”

Allegedly, Juan Sillas, one of the most violent hit men out of Tijuana, Mexico offered $25,000 ($4,000 in advance) to a street gang in San Diego to murder a California couple. After reportedly telling Sillas they were having trouble finding them, the gang’s price was increased to $50,000 if the couple could be found quickly.

The allegations, based on the information provided by a confidential informant were filed on Tuesday against three men accused of attempting to murder the family.

While, Sillas was not charged, his brother, Jorge Sillas, 28, Victor Gonzalez, 29, and Danny Cepallo, 34 were charged, and all pled not guilty.

Authorities said the defendants were following orders from the Arellano Felix cartel out of Tijuana. This cartel used to be the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico, and is one of the country’s oldest.

The plan was interrupted when the Palmdale home of Jorge Sillas was raided, resulting in Sillas and Gonzalez being arrested. Just north of Los Angeles, Cepallo was arrested at a Starbucks. The raid resulted in the seizure of about $20,000 in cash, two AR-15 rifles, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Bail was set at $1 million each.

Read more at Newser →

Smoking in Your Own Home Can Now Get You Arrested in Honduras

Smoking in Your Own Home Can Now Get You Arrested in Honduras

Photo: Smoking ban in Honduras reaches homes.

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In Honduras, a new smoking law took effect on Monday that allows family members to call the police on those that smoke in the house.

The new law bans smoking in almost all closed public and private places and requires those smoking to stand a minimum of six feet from any nonsmokers in an open space. Smoking in schools, gas stations, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, public transportation, public arenas, and other specified locations, but it did not make clear that smoking at home is also not allowed. That is, until a clause was added, that took effect this week.

It states:

Families or individuals may complain to law enforcement authorities when smokers expose them to secondhand smoke in private places and family homes.

ImageAnyone found to have violated the law will first be given a verbal warning. After a second offense, the smoker could be arrested, and before release, they’d have to pay a $311 fee – the equivalent of a minimum wage worker’s monthly salary.

While a number of anti-smoking groups praise Honduras for its attempts at reducing/eliminating smoking, it may prove difficult to enforce.

Jose Martinez, and 38-year-old 20-year smoker said, “Police won’t be able to enforce it because they can barely keep up with the crime wave that has been overwhelming us to be able to go after those who are smoking at home.”

According to Honduran health authorities, about 30 percent of the country’s population smokes, and nine out of ten Hondurans living in a home with at least one smoker suffer from acute bronchitis. The Health Department claims that for every dollar the tobacco industry makes in Honduras, the state spends $10 to fight smoke-related diseases.

Read more at AP →

Mexico’s President Calderon to Visit Here Next Week, Fifth Time Since Obama Took Office

When you are mad at your neighborhood or best friend, what is the best way to deal with the issues?  Have a face-to-face meeting of course and that is what Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon plan to do next week when he visits.

An impromptu meeting has been scheduled for next Wednesday for Calderon to meet with President Obama, Speaker John Boehner and some business leaders.  It appears President Calderon is miffed at the most recent batch of WikiLeaks cables that shows the U.S. government secretly has no confidence in his judicial system, his army and his battle against drug cartels. 

Calderon is expected to continue his demand that the U.S do its part to stem demand for drugs and the flow of guns from the U.S. into Mexico.

The March 3rd meeting will not be a state visit with all the pomp and circumstance but rather a working meeting.  This is the fifth time since January, 2009 that the two Presidents have met. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

OSCAR BUZZ: Host Anne Hathaway Parodies Evita, Receives Sex Ed. From Penelope Cruz (VIDEO)

A new promo from the 2011 Academy Awards has been released; it features actress Anne Hathaway doing a very weird mash-up of “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from the musical Evita, and the rap classic Rump Shaker.

Puzzling.

Hathaway, who recently credited Spanish actress Penelope Cruz for “freeing her up mentally” to do the sex scenes in her last movie, “Love and Other Drugs,” is hosting the Oscars along side actor James Franco.

“I was watching a lot of her [P. Cruz’s] work while I was working on the movie,” Hathaway said. “Because doing nudity is a little nerve-wrecking, and I had to remind myself that plenty of actresses have done it before me and kept their dignity intact. She has done a ton of love scenes, and no one ever talks to her about it. It’s always in the service of the work.”

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Official Hate Groups in U.S. Top 1,000 – First Time Ever Number is So High

Official Hate Groups in U.S. Top 1,000 – First Time Ever Number is So High

Photo: Stop Hate

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Hate groups topped 1,000 for the first time since the Southern Poverty Law Center began counting such groups in the 1980s. Anti-immigrant vigilante groups, despite having some of the political wind taken out of their sails by the adoption of hard-line anti-immigration laws around the country, continued to rise slowly.

But by far the most dramatic growth came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement — conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their primary enemy — which gained more than 300 new groups, a jump of over 60%.

For the second year in a row, the radical right in America expanded explosively in 2010, driven by resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the government’s handling of the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at various minorities.

The hatemongers, the nativists and the antigovernment zealots — increased from 1,753 groups in 2009 to 2,145 in 2010, a 22% rise. That followed a 2008-2009 increase of 40%.

Read more at Southern Law Poverty Center →

OSCAR BUZZ: Is Banksy Promoting “Exit Through The Gift Shop” with Street Art about Immigration?

Street art on, walls, street signs and other public spaces presumably slapped on by British artist Banksy have been appearing in California’s streets some of it having to do with illegal immigration. Is this his way to promote his Oscar nominated film?

Running up for “Best Documentary” on these upcoming Academy Awards, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” follows shop-keeper turned amateur filmmaker Thierry Guetta, as he amasses ridiculous amounts of footage documenting many of the world’s most infamous vandals—street artists, only to have British brilliant stencil artist Banksy turn the camera back on its owner with unexpected, interesting, hilarious and wild results.

Reinvented versions of the iconic yellow traffic signs with a silhouetted family that line roads near the U.S.-Mexico border have been appearing in California. The original depicts a mom, dad and girl running, leaning forward as if ducking from fire, or sprinting sneakily across the border.

By adding a kite, Banksy transformed the image of an anxious family running for their lives to a joyful family running towards their dreams.

The original signs were printed by CalTran’s graphic designer John Hood.

He and his supervisors met with Highway Patrol officers and saw photos of accident scenes before starting the design process.

“Graphically, I wanted to show a family,” Hood told the San Diego Tribune in 2005. He chose to include a pigtailed girl, rather than a boy, because “there is something about a little girl running across with her parents that we are more affected by.”

The sudden rise of Banksy’s art is causing quite a controversy.  A billboard on Sunset blvd. featured an advertisement for the “Light Group”, a Las Vegas-based management company that manages several restaurants in the city’s casinos. According to a Light Group spokeswoman, the company was thrilled that Banksy chose to turn their “generic billboard” into a piece of art.

“We thought it was really flattering,” says Beth Bartolini, director of public relations. “We picked a great spot for our billboard, and he thought so too. It was one of our generic billboards. It’s much cooler to have Banksy tag it.”

But the thrill faded when CBS Outdoor, the company that owns the billboard, took down the sign Wednesday afternoon because “it did not meet our standards.” Banksy had drawn a drunken Mickey Mouse groping the model on the original advert, and a strung out Minnie Mouse next to a banner that read “Living the Dream.”Image

“It’s our billboard, and we will have it back” representatives from the Light Group Said. “We don’t know what we’ll do with it yet. But it’s art. We want to make sure we do the right thing.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Self-Described Tequila Party of Nevada Founder Running for Las Vegas Mayor

Self-Described Tequila Party of Nevada Founder Running for Las Vegas Mayor

Photo: George Harris

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Running for Las Vegas mayor is the self-named leader of the Tequila Party of Nevada, a Hispanic political party whose members, just like the Tea Party, has broken away from their original party affiliations. Some however, are questioning whether his run is only to help his bar’s business.

“I’m a self-promoter,” said George Harris, founder of Alien Tequila Spirits Co., an upscale downtown Las Vegas Mexican restaurant, and the man that claims to also be the founder of Nevada’s Tequila Party. “I’m promoting my restaurant. I’m promoting my tequila. If I’m doing a good job, just think about what I am going to do with the city of Las Vegas.”

It has become hard to separate Harris’ political and business interests, especially after his mayoral candidacy kick-off party – held at his restaurant—saw “Mayor George” t-shirts, a Mariachi band, plenty of bottles of his tequila, Mexican finger foods, but really, no sign of the Tequila Party.

But what’s relatively surprising is the fact that, since filing the paperwork for the creation of the Tequila Party, there have been no political protests in opposition.

And while critics claim Harris is not the originator of the Tequila Party, his friends don’t argue, but say he “made it real.”

Harris, who speaks very little Spanish, is a former GOP chairman and state GOP finance chairman, said he has tried for years to get Hispanic involved in politics, but to no avail.

“He says he wants to heal the nation’s immigration wounds and promote Mexican culture. And if he happens to move some tequila or get bodies into his restaurant in the meantime, so be it,” wrote the Associated Press.

Read more at KTVN 2 Reno →

Sophisticated and Violent Document Traffickers from Mexico Operating in U.S. Indicted

A federal grand jury in Richmond has indicted 22 members of an allegedly highly sophisticated and violent fraudulent document trafficking organization based in Mexico with cells in 19 cities and 11 states, including three cells in Virginia.

Discovered through an ongoing investigation dubbed “Operation Phalanx,” the organization is accused of kidnapping, beating and – at least on one occasion – murdering competitors and using violence to discipline its own members.

According to the 12-count indictment, Israel Cruz Millan, a/k/a “El Muerto,” 28, of Raleigh, N.C., managed the organization’s operations in the United States, overseeing cells in nearly a dozen states that produced high-quality false identification cards to illegal aliens. He allegedly placed a manager in each city, each of whom supervised a number of “runners” who distributed business cards advertising the organization’s services and helped facilitate transactions with customers.

The cost of fraudulent documents varied depending on the location, with counterfeit resident alien and social cecurity cards typically selling from $150 to $200. Each cell maintained detailed sales records and divided the proceeds between the runner, the cell manager, and the upper level managers in Mexico.

The indictment alleges that Cruz Millan’s organization sought to drive competitors from their territory by posing as customers and attacking them when they arrived to make a sale. These attacks allegedly included binding the victims’ hands, feet and mouth; repeatedly beating them; and threatening them with death if they continued to sell false identification documents in the area. The victims were allegedly left bound at the scene of the attack, and the indictment states that at least one victim died from the beatings.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Google Loses Another Exec to Facebook as the Social Networking Site Keeps Their Eye on Latin America

Google Loses Another Exec to Facebook as the Social Networking Site Keeps Their Eye on Latin America

Photo: Facebook takes on Orkut in Brazil

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While Facebook may have the largest social networking presence in America, it has a way to go in Latin America, especially in Brazil. Looking to increase that presence, the social networking site has managed to entice yet another Google executive to join their team.

While with Google, Alexandre Hohagen helped them really breakout in the Latin American market. Now, being hired by Facebook to be the vice president for sales in the region as part of the site “international expansion,” Hohagen has his work cut out for him.

Currently, in Brazil, Facebook is still less popular than Google’s social networking service Orkut. As of April 2010, 48 percent of Orkut users are from Brazil, 39.2 percent from India, and 2.2 percent from the U.S.. The site is now fully managed in Brazil, but hosting began in California. According to Alexa (a website traffic reporting source), Orkut is ranked 102nd in the world, and has more than 100 million active users.

Keeping on the track “global domination” track as far as social networking sites go, Facebook surpassed Orkut in India last summer, leaving only Brazil to “conquer,” so to speak, and Hohagen will be based there to aid in the process.

Not only has Facebook lured away Hohagen and other Google execs, but the site has nabbed Microsoft’s former global advertising head Carolyn Everson. She will be Facebook’s vice president of global sales.

“Carolyn will take us to the next level,” said Facebook’s David Fischer, vice president of advertising and global operations.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Shakira’s Boy Toy Piqué, The New Face of “Mango”  (VIDEO)

Barça soccer club’s defenseman Gerard Piqué, has signed a contract with the men’s fashion line “Mango by HE” for 2011.

The Spanish multinational said in a press release that “Piqué fits to perfection the kind of man the brand wants to dress: young, with a good personality, laid back and with a style of his own.”

Piqué will be the face of the fashion house through the spring, summer, fall and winter seasons of this year. News of this contract arrive just as the soccer star returned to Barcelona after traveling through central Europe for a couple of days in Shakira’s private plane.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazilians Keep More Money in Swiss Banks Than Most Everyone Else in the World

Brazilians Keep More Money in Swiss Banks Than Most Everyone Else in the World

Photo: Brazilians

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Brazilians keeps more money (the kind of money they can’t keep in Brazil) in Switzerland than the Chinese, Indian or Saudis do.  Official figures put the amount at $6 billion while unofficial estimates go as high $60 billion. 

Despite heavy federal police operations aimed to avoiding the flight of capital to Swiss banks, Brazilians have millions divided between Geneva, Zurich and other financial havens of the European nation.

That sum only represents the funds that have been declared officially; certain Swiss bank employees, estimate the real sum could be ten times higher, since a considerable amount of Brazilian money was transferred from places like the Cayman islands and the Caribbean, and so not accounted as of Brazilian origin in Swiss bank archives.

Most of the Brazilian money in Swiss banks, is classified as “Fiduciary Operations,” a label that means the bank is not obliged to present it in their balances. These label also allows several politicians and important Brazilian figures to hide their personal fortunes, all they have to do is present a document to the bank, guaranteeing the funds weren’t made through political activities.

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.K. Fabled Pinewood Studios Coming to Dominican Republic to Create ‘Water Studio’

U.K. Fabled Pinewood Studios Coming to Dominican Republic to Create ‘Water Studio’

Photo: Water Movie Studio in Dominican Republic

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The fabled U.K. Pinewood Studios Group has announced that it is coming to the Dominican Republic and building a film studio and state of the art television facility to service the Latin American audience.

The 16,400 square foot studio will sit on 35 acres with an eight acre special effects water facility that includes exterior diving tanks and a marina.  The studio expects to open its door in 2012 and will be supported by a massive 49,200 square foot production support facility.

Pinewood has brought audiences such iconic films as the James Bond series and the Harry Potter franchise.  They currently have studios in Berlin and Malaysia, this is their first in Latin America and they partnered with the Indomina Group, which is based in the Dominican. 

The partnership is planning on developing films aimed at the Latin American audience and South American movie makers.  Spending in Latin America for films is skyrocketing and is pegged to be at $3.1 billion for 2014.

Read more at Hollywood Reporter →

AZ Bill Prevents Undocumented From Collecting on Lawsuits

When southern Arizona ranch owner Roger Barnett spotted a number of undocumented immigrants, he took it upon himself to hold them at gun point, and a lawsuit from the Mexican Legal Defense fund followed.

Barnett was accused of assaulting detaining, and threatening the lives of the immigrants. A Tucson federal jury ruled in favor of the undocumented immigrants in February 2009, and ordered Barnett to pay $78,000 in punitive damage.

Now an Arizona State House panel wants to prevent anyone who is not in the country legally from collecting punitive damages, including those one in a lawsuit. The ASH has already approved House Bill 2191 to do just that.

The bill would turn back time, so to speak, as it would back the ballot measure retroactive to January 1st, 2004. If passed, the bill would get Barnett out of paying out his fine.

Presiding over Barnett’s case was the late Chief Judge John Roll, who was killed last month in the disastrous Tucson shooting.

HB2191 is being sponsored by Rep. Jim Weiers (R-Phoenix).

Read more at CBS5 →

OSCAR BUZZ: Bardem Doesn’t Think he is an Attractive Person. What do you think?

OSCAR BUZZ: Bardem Doesn’t Think he is an Attractive Person. What do you think?

Photo: Javier Bardem Doesn't Think He's Sexy

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In a recent interview with German magazine “Brigitte”, Javier Bardem said that the so many unflattering do’s we’ve seen of him through the years, are just a part of being an actor. Image

Bardem added that he doesn’t feel like he’s attractive. “But… I look like a monkey!” he said soon after earning the Best Actor Goya award for his role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.”

“When I first read the script, I realized it was a life journey,” Bardem reminisces about his initial thoughts on Biutiful. “What he [González Iñárritu] was proposing to me was not a role. It was like, forget about doing things or showing your skills. This is something else. This is about jumping in the abyss.”

Bardem’s leap of faith certainly paid off. Earlier this year Bardem was the Best Actor Cannes Film Festival laureate for a performance that many critics are regarding as a career best for the Spanish actor.

We wish Bardem the best of luck at the 2011 Academy Award Ceremony!

Read more by HS News Staff →

JUST IN: Saudi Student & TX Resident Arrested as Terrorist Seeking to Bomb Pres. George Bush’s Home

JUST IN: Saudi Student & TX Resident Arrested as Terrorist Seeking to Bomb Pres. George Bush’s Home

Photo: Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari

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Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested late yesterday by FBI agents in Texas on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and his research of potential U.S. targets.

He appears to have being targeting 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California and the home of former President George W. Bush.  He is also alleged be researching how to booby-trap household items with explosives detonating with a remote control. 

Aldawsari, was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. 

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients.  In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Peru’s Glaciers Disappearing at Rapid Pace, Threat to Fresh Water Source

Peru’s Glaciers Disappearing at Rapid Pace, Threat to Fresh Water Source

Photo: Huaytapallana Mountiain range in Peru

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In just 23 years Peru’s majesty Huaytapallana Mountain range has lost half of its glacier ice surface which will translate into limitation on fresh water resources.  The glacier loss is more than was expected and is more than any other findings have identified.

Scientist who are studying the mountain’s jagged glacier blame global warming caused by climate change for the rapid deteriotation.  Huaytapallana is the main source of fresh water for agriculture and water consumption in the region. 

Huaytapallana is part of what is recognized as the “Roof of the Americas” where a lot of glaciers are located.  They are studied to see what changes are happening to all glaciers in the world. 

Back in 2009 a study predicted that in 35 years 22 percent of Peru’s glaciers would be gone now two years later 50 percent of the ice surface on a key mountain is already gone.  If the trend continues and nothing is done all these snow caps in Peru will disappear in 20 years. 

Read more at Google Hosted News →

Zeta’s ‘Tweety Bird’ and 5 Others Held in Killing of U.S. Federal Agent, “Confusion” Led to Ambush

Zeta’s ‘Tweety Bird’ and 5 Others Held in Killing of U.S. Federal Agent, “Confusion” Led to Ambush

Photo: Six Zetas Accused of Killing Agent Zapata

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UPDATE: Mexican officials have arrested six members of the violent Los Zetas drug cartel in the killing of U.S. federal agent Jaime Zapata including cell leader ‘El Piolin’ or “Tweety Bird” whose real name is Julian Zapata Espinoza.  Zapata’s wife was also arrested as well as a Honduran national - they were all hiding out in different residences in San Luis Potosi. 

According the Mexican army officials the Zetas were confused on February 15 when Agent Zapata and Special Agent Avila, who was injured, came upon their narcoblockade.  The SUV the agents were driving appears to have caused the confusion - though the vehicle had U.S. diplomatic license plates - is a type of SUV commonly used by a rival gang. 

After the swift arrest President Barack Obama called President Felipe Calderon late yesterday to thank him for all his efforts in arresting these suspects.  The U.S. is seeking to have the 6 extradited to U.S. where they will face the death penalty - Mexico does not have the death penalty.


ORIGINAL STORY:  According to AP reports a suspect in the killing of U.S. special immigration agent Jaime Zapata has been captured by the Mexican Army.

The Mexican Defense Department issued a brief statement saying that one of the suspects had been captured – no other details were provided. Agent Zapata was laid to rest yesterday after being shot in Mexico at a ‘narco blockade” last week. 

Unofficial sources say Mexican officials are looking for several suspects affiliated with the Zeta drug cartel, that is believed to be behind agent Zapata’s killing.  The rapid capture of one of the suspect comes on the heals of Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon anger at the U.S. for criticizing Mexico’s public security forces.

Yesterday, in press interviews Calderon mentioned the numerous cables that have come out through WikiLeaks where the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual notes Mexico’s intelligence system as inadequate and its army poorly equipped to handle the drug cartels. 

The cables leaks had nothing to do with the killing of Agent Zapata but rather Calderon felt they undermined the spirit of his Army trying to do the best under the circumstances.  He also felt it did not to anything to enhance U.S.-Mexico relations or help in the effort to fight drug trafficking. 

Read more at The Monitor →

Mexican Senate Approves Immigration Law Focused on Migrant Safety

Mexican Senate Approves Immigration Law Focused on Migrant Safety

Photo: Mexican Senate

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Mexico’s Senate approved a new Immigration Law to protect the 300,000 undocumented Central Americans who travel through Mexico on their way to the US every year.

The voting coincided with the presentation of a report by Mexico’s independent human rights commission about the kidnapping of 11,333 mainly Central American migrants on Mexican soil.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 84-15, mandates the creation of a legal framework to counter crimes against migrants during their passage through Mexico.

But nearly one-third of the legislation’s 164 articles have yet to win approval.

The laws calls for any immigrants who are involved in any crime to remain the country until the case is resolved. Furthermore, they will be given authorization to work during this period.

The bill calls for fines of up to $5,000 for employing undocumented foreigners and smaller penalties for Mexicans “who enter into marriage with a foreigner only so that the latter can settle in the country.”

Read more at Fox News →

Most Voters Say Its Better to Enforce Existing Immigration Laws Rather than Creating New Ones

When it comes to illegal immigration, most voters believe the government just needs to enforce the laws that are already on the books.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that two-out-of-three Likely U.S. Voters (67%) say it’s better to enforce existing immigration laws than to create new laws in order to combat illegal immigration. Just 24% say new immigration laws are the better course.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 71% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties think it’s better to enforce existing laws on illegal immigration. Democrats are more narrowly divided on the question.  Still, the majority of voters across virtually all demographic categories agree that the emphasis should be on laws that are already in place.  Sixty-five percent (65%) of all voters say gaining control of the border is more important in terms of immigration legislation than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States.  This finding has remained largely unchanged for years.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) believe a state should have the right to enforce immigration laws if it believes the federal government is not enforcing them.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters said last June that they believed the federal government by failing to enforce immigration law was more to blame for the controversy over Arizona’s new statute than state officials were for passing it.  Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters continue to favor passage of an immigration law like Arizona’s in their own state.

Read more at Rasmussen Reports →

In 2010 California-Mexico Border Saw 93 Million Inspections, 90 tons of drugs & 41,000 Apprehensions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting security operations at California’s ports of entry with Mexico performed more than 63 million inspections of travelers, seized almost 90 tons of illegal narcotics and apprehended more than 41,000 immigration violators during federal fiscal year 2010.

CBP’s field office in San Diego includes more than 1,900 front-line federal officers, agriculture specialists, and other staff working to operate and secure the passenger and commercial border stations at San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate, Calexico, Andrade and the San Diego air and sea ports of entry.

During the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, CBP officers at ports in San Diego and Imperial counties inspected more than 25 million passenger vehicles, more than 1 million trucks, more than 107,000 buses, and slightly more than 14 million pedestrians entering the U.S.

CBP’s increased focus on outbound inspections since March 2009 has significantly increased the cost of doing business for violent criminal organizations. Along the California/Mexico border, seizures of unreported currency departing the country grew 338 percent to more than $6 million during fiscal year 2010.

Also this past fiscal year, marijuana seizures decreased 41 percent to 164,885 pounds; cocaine seizures increased 11 percent to 8,771 pounds; heroin seizures decreased 8 percent to 570 pounds; and methamphetamine seizures increased 48 percent to 5,456 pounds.

The focused enforcement efforts by ports in San Diego and Imperial counties accounted for 30 percent of the marijuana, 14 percent of the cocaine, 15 percent of the heroin, and 72 percent of the methamphetamine seized at air, sea, and land ports of entry nationwide.

The apprehension of individuals with outstanding felony warrants for such crimes as homicide, robbery and assault by local, state or federal police agencies experienced a slight decrease: 1,774 this fiscal year compared to 1,925 arrests during the same period last year.

CBP officers with the San Diego field office stopped more than 41,000 persons for various immigration violations, including persons with counterfeit or altered documents; imposters with legitimate documents that did not belong to them; illegal aliens attempting to avoid inspection and enter the country, such as by hiding in a compartment within a car; and other violators.

CBP agriculture specialists performed 8,529,100 agricultural inspections in the passenger environment and 46,596 inspections in the cargo environment. These inspections resulted in 85,899 seizures of prohibited plant materials, soil, meat, or animal products and finding 923 cargo shipments that did not meet the U.S. entry requirements, causing the shipments to be either sent back, treated, or destroyed.

At cargo processing facilities in Southern California, CBP personnel collected an estimated $149.8 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 $32.8 billion. In addition to processing legitimate trade at the border crossings, CBP officers also made 63 separate seizures of products accused of intellectual property rights violations. The seized products had an estimated domestic value of more than $847,000.

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ThursdayFebruary 24, 2011