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Tag: Nogales

Ex-DEA Special Agent Pleads Guilty to Selling Guns to Suspected Drug Traffickers

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former supervisory special agent for the DEA in Nogales, Ariz., faces up to five years in prison for illegally selling firearms, including to suspected drug traffickers.

Joseph Gill pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally selling firearms, including two rifles to men “he had reason to believe intended to use or dispose of the firearms unlawfully, Tucson News Now reports.

Gill, who sold the guns without a Federal Firearms License, is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 26.

According to the Justice Department, Gill purchased firearms from licensed dealers and sold them online.

Investigators said Gill sold two Colt rifles in June 2016 to suspected drug dealers, according to an ATF investigation. Authorities said one rifle was smuggled into Mexico and another was seized at a port of authority.

Gill resigned from the DEA on June 30.

Jurors Deliberates Today in Trial of Border Patrol Charged with Killing Mexican Teen

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Jurors in the trial of a Border Patrol agent charged in the shooting death of a teenager in Mexico are set to begin deliberations Tuesday morning.

In closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury that Agent Lonnie Swartz fired his across the border in Nogales, Mexico, because he was fed up with people throwing rocks, the Associated Press reports. 

Defense attorneys countered that Swartz, who is charged with second-degree murder, feared for his and his fellow agents’ safety after he began hearing rocks striking the fence.

Swartz fired 16 shots, striking 16-year-old Elena Rodriguez wight times in the back and twice in the head.

Last week, Swartz testified for more than two hours, telling the jury that he heard rocks striking the fence and that a fellow agent had been injured. He added that an alleged drug smuggler, whom the rock-throwers were said to be protecting, had a large knife in his pocket.

“I was scared, scared to be hit by a rock, (scared) for my partner,” Swartz said. “I had to act quickly. I only had seconds to stop the threat.”

But the fellow agent testified earlier that he was not injured and that a rock rolled onto his foot.

Other Stories of Interest

Border Patrol Agent Charged in Fatal Shooting of Teen in Mexico Testifies

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent on trial in the 2012 fatal shooting of a teenager across the Mexican border testified Monday that he shot through a fence in Nogales because he was protecting himself and his fellow law enforcement officers.

Lonnie Swartz, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Elena Rodriguez, testified Monday that he opened fire after a group of rock-throwers from Mexico struck a fellow agent, Tucson.com reports.

Prosecutors said Swartz fired 16 shots, striking the teenager 10 times, including eight times in the back and twice in the head.

Swartz testified for more than two hours, telling the jury that he heard rocks striking the fence and that a fellow agent had been injured. He added that an alleged drug smuggler, whom the rock-throwers were said to be protecting, had a large knife in his pocket.

“I was scared, scared to be hit by a rock, (scared) for my partner,” Swartz said. “I had to act quickly. I only had seconds to stop the threat.”

But the fellow agent testified earlier that he was not injured and that a rock rolled onto his foot.

DEA Arrests Nogales Police Officer on Allegations of Buying, Possessing Narcotics

Danzita Hernandez

Danitza Hernandez

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA arrested a Nogales, Ariz., police officer for allegedly buying and possessing narcotics.

Tucson News Now reports that Danitza Hernandez was arrested while she off duty on Wednesday.

She was charged with two felony counts of illegal possession of narcotic and use of an electronic device during a drug transaction.

The Nogales Police Department has placed Hernandez on administration suspension.

The police department said it is cooperating with the DEA.

Border Patrol Releases Photos of Latest Cross-Border Tunnel Discovered

Latest cross-border tunnel discovered by authorities. All photos by Border Patrol.

Latest cross-border tunnel discovered by authorities. All photos by Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mexican authorities found a border tunnel in Nogales that stretched about 80 feet from Mexico to the United States.

The tunnel, which authorities said was “incomplete,” extended about 30 feet into the U.S.

The first illicit cross-border tunnel was discovered in Douglas in 1990. Since then, Border Patrol said it investigates more than 115 tunnels – all but five in the Nogales areas.

“The tunnels, typically primitive in nature, are generally used by transnational criminal organizations to smuggle narcotics into the United States,” the Border Patrol said. “Agents put themselves in dangerous, unnerving situations when they investigate tunnels.”

Here are photos, taken by Border Patrol, of the latest tunnel discovery.

border tunnel5

The pink marking indicates an access point.

Digging tools in the tunnel.

Digging tools in the tunnel.

Border Patrol Agent Recovering After Being Struck by Football-Sized Rock

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In the latest attack against the Border Patrol, an agent was injured when he was struck by a football-sized rock near Nogales, Ariz., the Tucson News Now reports. 

The attack last week happened as agents were investigating a report of five people smuggling drugs across the border.

The group broke up in different directions as the agents converged.

The agent was attacked when he was just 10 feet from one of the suspects.

Despite bring injured, the agent still was able to arrest the suspect.

An estimated 150 pounds of marijuana was seized.

Lawsuit Seeks to Name Border Patrol Agent Who Shot, Killed 16-Year-Old in Nogales

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Civil rights lawyers are suing federal government to force the disclosure of the name of the Border Patrol agent who shot and killed a 16-year-old teen in the back.

“This is an extraordinary request by the government and just one more example of how the Border Patrol attempts to shield its unlawful actions from the public. The rule of law demands transparency—that’s all we’re asking for,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project in a news release.

The body of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was found about 40 feet from the border near the port of entry in Nogales.

Border Patrol said the agent was responding to rock throwers, but a witness disputes that.

CBP has agreed to release the name of the agent, but only if the identity is kept hidden from the public.

“The public interest in knowing the identity of a federal agent sued for the use of deadly force during his official duties is paramount,” attorneys wrote.

ICE HSI Agent Pleads Guilty to 21 Counts

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent has pleaded guilty to leaking information to relatives involved in drug trafficking, authorities said.

Jovana Deas, 33, of Rio Rico, Ariz., pleaded guilty to all 21 counts against her, the FBI said in a statement on Monday. Deas was an agent with the HSI Nogales office.

Deas admitted to using her credentials to illegally obtain and disseminate government documents classified as Official Use Only, said the FBI. Some of the documents were later found on the laptop of her former brother-in-law–who is associated with drug trafficking groups in Mexico–by Brazilian law enforcement. Deas further admitted to illegally accessing, stealing, and transferring sensitive U.S. government documents, and to obstructing HSI investigations. She pled guilty to seven felony violations–punishable by up to five years each–and 14 misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year each.

Deas’s sister, Dana Maria Samaniego Montes, was also charged with violations of federal law. Montes is a former Mexican law enforcement official with alleged ties to drug trafficking organizations, but is a fugitive believed to be at large in Mexico.

Deas’s sentencing is set for April 11.

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