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Tag: Arizona

Lawsuit Challenging Conditions at Border Patrol Detention Centers Goes to Trial

A overcrowded, cold detention facility in Tucson.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A trial is set to begin today over conditions at detention centers at several of Border Patrol’s stations in Arizona.

The case involves a lawsuit filed in 2015 that challenges what attorneys say are unsafe and deplorable conditions at eight Border Patrol facilities in Arizona, The New York Times reports.

The lawsuit was filed four years before the surge in immigrants last year caused even bigger problems at the facilities, which activists say are inhume.

Photos used as evidence in the case show men packed under an aluminum blanket, rusty toilets, soiled toiled paper, and women changing a baby’s diaper on a concrete floor littered with trash.

“We’re talking about ensuring that the government is meeting constitutional standards when it comes to the detention of people in these facilities,” said Victoria López, advocacy and legal director for the ACLU of Arizona, one of the organizations involved in the suit.

Border Patrol didn’t respond to questions from The New York Times.

Homeland Security Agents Reportedly Paid for Sex Acts by Trafficking Victims

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Two Homeland Security agents investigating a transnational network of illegal massage parlors engaged in sex acts with the alleged victims in two Arizona cities, according to reports uncovered by Today’s News-Herald.

The reports indicate two agents participated in sex acts at massage parlors at least 10 times with Asian immigrants who were forced into sex slavery.

The two-year trafficking investigation began in 2016, when police were tipped off about several massage parlors in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City in Arizona. When local police departments found evidence that some of the employees may have been victims of human trafficking, they called in the Department of Homeland Security.

According to investigative reports, the agents negotiated prices for hand jobs and other sex acts.

In September 2018, police arrested eight people on charges of sex trafficking, money laundering, and operating a house of prostitution.

But charges against two of the suspects were dismissed last week because the two federal agents refused to testify.

Homeland Security officials did not respond to questions about why the agents didn’t show up.

One of the women arrested in the case filed a lawsuit 0n Sept. 30 in an attempt to get more information from Homeland Security, including the disclosure of the agents’ identifies and all reports generated during the probe.

Homeland Security Discovers Long Tunnel Used to Smuggle Drugs in Nogales

Tunnel entrance, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Investigations special agents found an 82-foot-long tunnel that has been used for a few months to smuggle drugs near Nogales, Ariz.

Agents on the Border Enforcement Security Task Force were executing a search warrant when they discovered the tunnel, according to KOUN9-TV.

The tunnel, which was 8-feet-deep and had a ventilation system, led from a house in Nogales to a wastewater pipeline in Rio Rico, Ariz.

The tunnel appeared to have been used by Mexican nationals, two of whom were arrested on charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute hard narcotics.

Agents seized 200 pounds of meth, more than 6.5 pounds of fentanyl, nearly two pounds of heroin, and nearly three pounds of cocaine.

 

Two Border Patrol Agents Assaulted in Southern Arizona within 24-Hour Period

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Two Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona were assaulted in a pair of unrelated incidents within 24 hours of each other.

Both agents work out of the Tucson sector.

The first attack occurred Thursday evening when a 24-year-old Guatemalan man, who illegally entered the U.S., struck an agent before being taken into custody, Tucson.com reports.

On Friday afternoon, a 22-year-old Phoenix man tried to run down another agent in a vehicle before crashing into the agent’s SUV.

Both men will be prosecuted under federal assault charges.

Neither agent was seriously injured.

Secret Service Agent Participates in 100K Race While Battling Cancer

Javelina Hundred Endurance Run, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Just a month after Secret Service Agent Rodney Wellman began radiation for tumors that spread to his brain, the 49-year-old father took part in a grueling 100K race in the Arizona desert.

His goal was to challenge himself and to raise awareness about lung cancer.

Last October, Wellman became seriously ill. Believing he had a bad chest cold, he went to see a doctor and learned he had stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to his brain and lymph nodes.

The diagnosis shocked him because he had never smoked. Now he wants people to know that even non-smokers can get lung cancer.

“People automatically assume that people who have lung cancer must have smoked, and you did this to yourself,” Wellman told Runner’s World. “There’s a lot of people like me where that is not the case, yet it seems to get pushed down the funding lists.”

Wellman began training for the Javelina Hundred Endurance Run, a difficult trek for even veteran runners. Some of his Secret Service colleagues joined him. The idea was to raise money for lung cancer awareness and research.

Over the weekend, Wellman gave it a go. About three-quarters into the run, he had to stop because of severe cramping.

“This is a long fight, and we’re just getting started,” Wellman told CBS News.

Border Patrol Agent Dies During Search in Rugged Terrain at Arizona Border

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent died Sunday after fellow agents found him unresponsive in a remote part of the Arizona border east of Nogales.

Agent Robert Hotten, 44, was responding to a ground sensor that appeared to be triggered by a group of migrants near Mount Washington. When Hotten didn’t answer his radio, his fellow agents began searching for him and eventually found him at about 4:15 p.m., Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal said at a Monday news conference.

The FBI is investigating, but Villareal said “it appears” Hotten had fallen on rugged terrain.

“When Agent Hotten was found unresponsive, it appears that he had fallen and may have hit his head on some rocks, but again at this stage we don’t know that was the cause of death,” Villareal said.

Responding agents provided first aid and performed CPR for about two hours before carrying him out of the mountainous terrain to be airlifted.

“Tucson Sector is grieving today and our condolences are with Agent Hotten’s family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time,” Villareal said in a news release. “Our agents are assigned a dangerous mission in keeping our nation safe, and they risk their lives every day in the line-of-duty. I cannot express the sadness we feel when we lose one of our own. Even as we grieve, we will continue to put service before self and honor first. I thank the brave men and women who take this risk in service to our country.”

Hotten joined the Border Patrol on Sept. 10, 2009. He is survived by his wife, son, mother and brother.

Border Patrol Agent Admits He ‘Intentionally Struck’ Migrant with Truck

Stock photo of a Border Patrol truck, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent who intentionally struck a Guatemalan migrant with his truck in 2017 – and called immigrants “subhuman” – has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor civil rights charge.

Matthew Bowen, a 39-year-old agent stationed in Nogales, faces up to one year in prison after admitting he intentionally struck the 23-year-old migrant while arresting him for illegally crossing the border.

Bowen also has come under fire after text messages surfaced showing he called immigrants “subhuman” and “mindless murdering savages.”

Bowen, a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol, was placed on unpaid suspension in June 2018, shortly after he was indicted on assault charges. As part of a plea agree, Bowen will resign.

A video of the incident showed Bowen “accelerating aggressively” and striking Antolin Lopez Aguilar twice with the front of his truck. Bowen then arrested Lopez.

“During my apprehension of (Antonin Lopez Aguilar), I intentionally struck him with an unreasonable amount of force,” Bowen said, according to documents obtained by The Arizona Republic. “My actions when I struck A.L.-A. were not justified and violated his rights protected by the Constitution of the United States.”

Border Patrol Agent Accused of Smuggling Cocaine During His Night Shift

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A veteran Border Patrol agent is accused of paying drug traffickers $650,000 for 90 pounds of cocaine while working the night shift at a remote border crossing in southern Arizona. 

Ramon Antonio Monreal-Rodriguez was charged with conspiracy to smuggle cocaine in Tucson and on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, the Arizona Daily Star reports

Monreal-Rodriguez is accused of making cocaine purchases on Sept. 18 and Sept. 22 and keeping some of the drugs in his government-issued car until his shift ended.

The 32-year-old Vail resident, who worked at the Border Patrol’s station in Three Points, was arrested on Sept. 25 on charges of “conspiracy to make false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and aiding and abetting the commission of such offenses.”

Monreal-Rodriguez resigned on the day he was arrested.