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Tag: San Diego

Coronavirus Claims Life of First ICE Detainee; 705 Others Have Tested Positive

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The first ICE detainee to die from the coronavirus was a 57-year-old El Salvador man who had become ill at the Otay Messa Detention Center in San Diego.

“He contracted (Covid-19) at the facility,” the senior immigration official told CNN. “As soon as he tested positive he was sent to the hospital. He died there.”

Immigration rights groups have filed lawsuits against ICE, arguing the facilities are not adequately protecting detainees from the deadly coronavirus.

“The heartbreaking tragedy at Otay Mesa could have been prevented had US immigration officials heeded the recommendations of medical experts and acted in time,” Dr. Ranit Mishori, a senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights, said in a statement Wednesday. “Thousands of doctors, advocates, and even the former acting head of ICE have been sounding the alarm for months about the grave risks of immigration detention amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The government cannot say it did not know this would happen.”

Six weeks ago, ICE announced its first detainee to test positive for COVID-19.

Nearly half of the ICE detainees tested so far – 705 – have a confirmed infection, according to ICE.

Federal Agents Seize $30M Worth of Drugs in ‘Sophisticated’ Smuggling Tunnel

Drugs found inside a half-mile tunnel. Via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal agents seized thousands of pounds of drugs in a “sophisticated” smuggling tunnel that extends from a warehouse in Mexico to another warehouse in San Diego.

Inside the half-mile tunnel were 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of fentanyl worth nearly $30 million, ICE announced in a news release.

The tunnel included reinforced walls, ventilation, lighting and an underground rail system.

“I’m proud of the excellent work performed by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, as well as U.S. Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration agents as integrated partners of the San Diego Tunnel Task Force. Their tenacity made the difference in shutting down this tunnel,” said Cardell T. Morant, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Diego. “I hope this sends a clear message that despite the ongoing public health crisis, HSI and our law enforcement partners will remain resilient and continue to pursue criminal organizations responsible for the cross-border smuggling of narcotics into the United States.”

Border Officials Discover Longest Drug-Smuggling Tunnel Ever Found Along Southwest Border

Longest drug-smuggling tunnel ever found along the southwest border.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol officials said Wednesday they discovered the largest drug-smuggling tunnel ever found along the southwest border.

The intricate, bending tunnel stretches more than three-quarters of a mile and features a rail system, forced air ventilation, elevator and a complex drainage system.

The 5-and-a-half-foot tall tunnel begins in an industrial area in Tijuana, Mexico, and meanders more than 4,300 feet into a San Diego neighborhood, CBP said.

“I am thrilled that this high level narco-tunnel has been discovered and will be rendered unusable for cross-border smuggling. I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke said in a news release.

“The sophistication and length of this particular tunnel demonstrates the time-consuming efforts transnational criminal organizations will undertake to facilitate cross-border smuggling,” said Cardell T. Morant, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego.

Officials first discovered the tunnel in August.

“As efforts to strengthen security on our Southern Border increase, Mexican drug cartels are forced underground to smuggle their deadly drugs into the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John Callery. “The sophistication of this tunnel demonstrates the determination and monetary resources of the cartels.  And although the cartels will continue to use their resources to try and breach our border, the DEA and our partners on the Tunnel Task Force will continue to use our resources to ensure they fail, that our border is secure, and that tunnels like this are shut down to stem the flow of deadly drugs entering the United States.”

Border Apprehensions Sharply Decline in August. Officials Credit Beefed Up Enforcement

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol saw a significant decline in apprehensions in August, a rare decrease for the month.

The number of undocumented migrants detained for trying to cross the U.S. border in August dropped 22% over July. The decline was even more significant in the San Diego sector, where apprehensions dropped 43% compared to July.

Last year, August apprehensions were higher than July’s.

“This is not due to a seasonal decline,” Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison told reporters Thursday.

Harrison said the decline is likely due to more enforcement from partners, including the newly created Mexico National Guard.

“This is a welcome relief and an indication that our efforts and those of our partners are having significant positive effects,” Harrison said.

FBI Paralegal Specialist Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Embezzlement

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Lynn Morris, a former paralegal specialist for the FBI in San Diego, was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for embezzling government funds.

The 56-year-old misused hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of government funds from the FBI’s San Diego Asset Forfeiture Unit. 

Morris used about $250,000 in government funds for personal use from July 2014 to November 2016, the Department of Justice said.

“Lynn Morris abused her position for personal gain and betrayed the trust of her FBI colleagues,” the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge James Cheng said in a news release.

In addition to taking more than $250,000 from two separate  Asset Forfeiture Unit accounts, she stole more than $26,000 from FBI evidence rooms, according to the Justice Department.

Morris was the coordinator for the Asset Forfeiture Unit accounts.

Driver Gets 4 Years in Prison After Fleeing Border Patrol, Crashing And Injuring 6 People

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A man who crashed an SUV while trying to elude Border Patrol agents, injuring himself and six other undocumented immigrants, was sentenced to four years in prison Monday.

Miguel Angel Tejada-Loaiza, 21, was transporting six unauthorized immigrants near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry after crossing the Mexico border to San Diego, according to the JusticeDepartment.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said Tejada-Loaiza was more reckless than most human smuggling crimes.

“This case is at the very aggravated end of the spectrum,” the judge said.

The crash occurred when Tejada-Loaiza made a sharp turn and slammed into a guard rail.

Teen Killed by Liquid Meth After Border Agents Tell Him to Drink It


By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Cruz Velazquez Acevedo was just 16 years old when he began screaming in pain and convulsing after drinking liquid methamphetamine shortly after crossing the U.S. Mexico border to San Diego.

Teen drinks liquid meth after Border Patrol agents told him to prove he didn't have drugs in the bottle.

Teen drinks liquid meth after Border Patrol agents told him to prove he didn’t have drugs in the bottle.

According to a lawsuit filed about three-and-a-half years after his death, Border Patrol agents told Acevedo to drink the amber-colored liquid to prove it wasn’t laced with drugs, the Washington Post reports

A surveillance video shows Acevedo taking four sips from a drink he insisted was apple juice.

“My heart! My heart!” he screamed before dying two hours later, according to court records.

The U.S. has agreed to pay Acevedo’s family $1 million win the wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the agency and two border officers.

His family’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, acknowledged Acevedo broke the law, but he said, “It wasn’t a death penalty case.”

“To cause him to die in a horrible way that he did is something that is execrable.”

Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Stealing FBI Agent’s Gun, Badge, Body Armor

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI special agent in San Diego was shocked last year when he returned to his car after a morning jog and found that his vehicle had been broken into and his gun, ammunition, badges, credentials and body armor were gone.

On March 23, a suspected gang member, Hoang Minh Nguyen, was indicted and remains in jail after pleading guilty, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. 

Nguyen, a suspected member of the Asian Crips, was captured several hours after the theft on May 31, 2016, at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Trail, near the FBI’s San Diego headquarters. Authorities used the agent’s cellphone signal to find Nguyen.

The FBI was led to a house where Nguyen was living with his parent.

But gone were the gun, badge, armor, radios and other items. It’s not clear whether those items were ever recovered.