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Tag: children

Judge Tentatively Approves $1M Settlement to Children in Border Patrol Lawsuit

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas.

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Seven years of litigation may finally be over after a San Diego federal judge tentatively approved a $1 million settlement to the children of a Mexican man who was fatally beaten and shot with a Taser at a California port of entry.

The money will be split by the five children of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, who was killed during the confrontation at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on May 28, 2010, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

“This agreement is not justice,” said Hernandez Rojas’ common-law wife, Maria Puga, at a news conference following the hearing. “My husband’s life does not have a price. The decision had to be taken and it was difficult. We had to turn the page.”

Two of the children are still minors.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Louisa Porter told the two 10-year-olds that he delayed signing the final order under to ensure the funds don’t need to go through probate.

“I hope you use the funds so you can have a good life going forward,” Porter told the two 10-year-olds. “He came to this country to improve his life, and he’d like to see your lives improved by virtue of all the sacrifices he made for you.”

Smuggler Forced Guatemalan Children into Hard Labor at U.S. Chicken Factories

Migrants were forced to work at chicken factories like this. Photo via FBI.

Migrants were forced to work at chicken factories like this. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Arnold Castillo-Serrano promised Guatemalan parents that a happy life awaited their children in the United States as he charged upwards of $15,000 to smuggle the young people to America.

But what awaited the children was something far from happiness, according to the FBI.

The bureau said children were smuggled across the border and forced to live in a trailer park and work on egg farms.

“We think the scheme was going on as early as 2011,” said Special Agent Matthew Komar, an investigator on the case from the FBI’s Cleveland Division. “The youngest trafficking victim we found was 14 years old.”

The victims were taken to farms, where they worked 12-hour shifts cleaning up chicken coops, loading crates of chickens and removing their beaks.

“When they were paid,” Komar said, “victims gave their checks to Castillo-Serrano or his associates, and they got back approximately $50. When some of the juveniles complained, they were threatened physically, and their families in Guatemala were threatened if they didn’t work.”

Castillo-Serrano, 33, was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in June.

“This case is ongoing,” Komar said. “We believe there are still people who were complicit in the scheme. He added, “When people think of human trafficking, they usually think of sex trafficking. But forced labor is real, and it is eye opening when you see the damage it can do.”

Border Patrol Rescues Abandoned 2-Year-Old Girl Smuggled into U.S.

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Smugglers left behind a 2-year-old girl in Granjeno, Texas, where she was wearing a T-shirt with a phone number on it.

Border Patrol agents rescued the girl and apprehended 14 illegal immigrants who authorities believe had possession of the girl, KSAT.com reports.

The girl was from El Salvador, and her mother said a friend was supposed to bring her daughter to her.

“Smugglers are heartless criminals who have no regard for the lives of the people, no matter what age. This child was left in the hands of strangers to get smuggled across the border,” said Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla Jr. “This case shows how smugglers continue to prey on the most vulnerable, treating them as contraband, using them for personal gain.”

Other Stories of Interest

Lead Poisoning in Flint and Future Crime Statistics

featured_water_13312

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In the plethora of political finger pointing and civil and criminal investigations, as well as the avalanche  of media reports on the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, one aspect of the debacle has been barely mentioned—the effect of lead poisoning of children on crime rates in future years.

The only media report of this potential is by the online journal thinkprogress (Click here to read).

As this column noted in November 2013 and January 2014, several scientific studies during the past two decades have demonstrated a positive correlation between lead exposure to children and their later propensity toward crime as a juveniles and young adults. Lead in the air and water has been shown to be especially harmful to children, causing or contributing to ADHD, decreased IQs, and emotional problems. These problems are especially present among low income groups.

One such study on this issue has been done by an Amherst College Professor, Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, who compared Massachusetts kids’ 1990 lead exposure with their 2000 test scores and behavior problem records. She found that even moderately elevated blood lead levels could be responsible for increased adult aggressiveness and violent criminal behavior. Reyes hypothesizes that it could also cause a tendency toward impulsive behavior, ADHD, substance abuse and a host of other social ills. Other studies around the world have confirmed these finings.

Other studies have pointed out the striking parallel between the increased lead in the air caused by leaded gasoline between the 1950s and 1991 when it was banned, and the dramatic increase in crime statistics during that same period. Obviously other factors were likely contributors, but the elimination of lead from fuel and paint seems to have been a significant potential factor in the greatly reduced crime statistics of the last two decades.

The question is to what extent will the lead exposure to Flint children affect their future health and development? Moreover, will any such effect result in the emotional and mental problems which will increase their propensity to commit crimes?

The Flint water contamination was a debacle by governments and a tragedy for its people. One potential result, one which should be added to the decision making by policymakers who thus far have been unwilling to spend the money to replace and repair Flint’s lead corroded infrastructure, is the cost to future crime victims.

Flint is not the only city to face these questions. An investigation is already underway in Sebring, Ohio for the same problem. Likely we will learn of other cities in the near future that will face a similar issue. The only silver lining to this tragedy may well be to influence other cities in the United States and around the world to examine their own water systems and the lead in the blood levels of their children and to take corrective action if needed.

As Nontombi Naomi Tutu, daughter of Desmond Tutu, said in a recent speech at the University of Michigan-Flint, “We actually needed the people of Flint to remind the people in this country what happens when political expediency, when financial concerns, overshadow justice and humanity.”

Perhaps a small consolation to the sacrifices by the people of Flint.

Federal Lawsuit: FBI Agents Used Excessive Force with 3 Children in Drug Raid

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal lawsuit accuses FBI agents of using excessive force during a drug raid at a New Mexican trailer where three children were sleeping, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

According to the suit, FBI agents blew open the front door with a stun grenade, causing shrapnel to strike a 10-year-old boy in the head and shoulder. A 12-year-old girl was forced to walk outside on glass, cutting her feet. All three children, including the 9-year-old, were emotionally traumatized, the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces alleges.

The May 2013 raid was part of a pre-dawn bust of 22 suspected drug and gun dealers.

The FBI declined to comment on pending litigation.

FBI Helps Rescue 149 Sexually Exploited Children in Nationwide Sting That Nabbed 150 Pimps

fbi logo largeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI helped rescue 149 sexually exploited children as part of a weeklong sting across the country.

Operation Cross Country also nabbed 150 pimps and others involved in the sex trade.

“Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating crime that steals lives and degrades our nation,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “As a result of the FBI’s outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our criminal justice system.”

More than 500 law enforcement officials were involved in the sting, which involved 135 cities.

The stings took place in casinos, hotels, truck stops and other areas.

Secret Service Disrupts Candlelight Vigil for Cancer-Stricken Children in Washington D.C

secret serviceBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service disrupted a candlelight vigil for cancer-stricken children, ordering parents and their sick kids out of Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. on Saturday night, the Washington Post reports.

The Secret Service cited security precautions, effectively ending a two-day event, CureFest for Childhood Cancer.

“We ended up waiting at the gates for two hours, and they never let us in,” said Natasha Gould, an 11-year-old Canadian girl who started a blog after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor this year. “And to be clear, the entire crowd was half kids. I cried last night in my hotel room because it was my first CureFest, and I couldn’t believe people were acting like they don’t care about children.”

Secret Service couldn’t be reached for comment.

Other Stories of Interest

How Anti-Drug Message Became Ubiquitous on Arcade Games in 1980s

This message appeared on countless arcade games

This message appeared on countless arcade games

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Beginning in the late 1980s, the federal government extended its anti-drug message to arcade games.

“Winners Don’t Use Drugs” was a popular slogan that was hatched during a dinner between old friends, Inverse.com reports. 

Bob Davenport, the the FBI’s director of public affairs, met with former FBI Agent Bob Fay, who at the time was the executive director of the American Amusement Machine Association.

“We were talking about my new career and how he had this emphasis on drug awareness,” Fay told Inverse, “and I said, ‘Hey, I might be able to help you out. I’ve got thousands of video games that we could put a message on.'”

That turned into trip to FBI headquarters in Washington.

The two friends decided the best message was “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” because it was concise and snappy.

“We wanted to get it to something that was short,” Fay said, “something that you could say winners not only applied to game-playing, but also if you want to be a winner in life, you can’t use drugs.”

The message became ubiquitous on video arcades in the late ’80.s.

Did it work?

“From some of the feedback that we were getting from the video game industry and others in the drug awareness program, we felt that it was pretty successful,” Davenport said.

Other Stories of Interest