December 6, 2007

Agents seize over 2 1/2 tons of drugs

Agents seize over 2 1/2 tons of drugs

Special to the Avalanche

MARFA - Drug smugglers continue to try to get past agents of the U.S. Border Patrol's Marfa Sector to little avail; recent seizures of marijuana have totaled more than 5,230 pounds.

The biggest load came about 1 a.m. Sunday, Dec, 2, when a Florida man driving an 18-wheeler tried to get through the Sierra Blanca checkpoint on Interstate 10.

A Border Patrol K-9 alerted to the trailer. When agents inspected, they discovered 2,328 pounds of marijuana in cellophane bundles among a load of lettuce.

The driver and a passenger were legal resident aliens from Nicaragua residing in Florida, according to the Border Patrol. The drug's street value was place at $1.86 million.

Friday afternoon, Alpine agents reported that they were alerted to footprints near Elephant Mountain south of town. Agents followed the footprints and other signs for about four hours before they spotted four men with large sugar sacks used as backpacks.

The men, citizens of Mexico in the country illegally, were arrested and over $170,400 in marijuana weighing 213 pounds was seized.

Sanderson agents reported seizing over 200 pounds of marijuana when they stopped a vehicle near Dryden after it reportedly dropped off some passengers.

The driver, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested when agents found 238 pounds of marijuana valued at over $190,000, the Border Patrol reported. The backpackers eluded the agents.

In another incident agents reported seizing 2,451 pounds of marijuana in the trailer of an 18-wheeler on Nov. 28 at the Sierra Blanca Station on Interstate 10.

While agents were conducting an immigration check on the driver, 44-year-old legal permanent resident from El Paso, a K9 alerted to the presence of people or narcotics in the trailer, agents said. The marijuana was valued at $1.96 million.

In all cases, the smugglers, the vehicles and the drugs were turned over to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

December 5, 2007

Arrests of illegal immigrants double in Dallas-Fort Worth

08:58 AM CST on Wednesday, December 5, 2007

By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News

New fugitive operations teams more than doubled their arrests of illegal immigrants in North Texas during the past fiscal year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Tuesday.

ICE officials said the teams made 1,635 arrests in the 2007 fiscal year, up from 606 arrests in the previous year.

But only 699 of those arrested – fewer than half – were people classified by ICE as "fugitives" – foreign-born people in the U.S. unlawfully who have failed to appear for immigration hearings or who fail to leave the country after having been ordered to do so by a federal immigration judge. The rest were illegal immigrants captured at locations visited by ICE. Arrested immigrants with criminal convictions numbered 168, according to ICE.

Tina Tucker, deputy field operations director for detentions and removal, attributed the increase in arrests to an increase in the teams. There are now 75 such teams in the nation, up from 50 a year ago. Three teams, up from one a year ago, are located in the Dallas regional office of ICE.

A year ago, an inspector general's report for the Homeland Security Department found that there were about 624,000 illegal immigrants classified as fugitives in the U.S. Since then, the backlog has been whittled to fewer than 595,000, ICE officials said Tuesday.

"This is the first year that we have actually shown a reduction in fugitives," Ms. Tucker said.

Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?