of the Day
- December 11, 2009
some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood
activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local
newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage
of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood
activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible
issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular
point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From LA Times
Roman Polanski asks California appeals court to dismiss child sex case
December 10, 2009 | 11:43 am
An attorney for Roman Polanski urged a California appeals court panel today to throw out the filmmaker's 1977 child sex case, citing what he called an “astonishing record of misconduct” by the district attorney's office and the judge who originally oversaw the case.
Chad S. Hummel argued that Judge Laurence J. Rittenband improperly discussed how to punish Polanski with a prosecutor not handling the matter, and threatened to lock up the director for a longer period if his attorney challenged his decision to return Polanski to prison.
“It sends chills up your spine what this judge was doing,” Hummel told the three appellate court justices in downtown Los Angeles.
The director's lawyers took his case to the appeals court after a Los Angeles judge declined to address similar arguments earlier this year, ruling that Polanski would need to return to the U.S. before any such decision could be made.
The Academy Award-winning director has been under house arrest at his chalet in Switzerland for a week since his release on bail by Swiss authorities. He was arrested in Zurich in September on an international fugitive warrant.
During today's hearing, the justices suggested that Polanski might be 32 years too late in his request to dismiss the case and that he could have had his lawyer raise such concerns at the time rather than flee the country.
The appeals court is not expected to decide whether the case should be dismissed, which would bring an abrupt end to the three-decades-old legal saga that has sharply divided public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. Instead, the justices are weighing whether a trial judge can consider Polanski's request to dismiss the case and evaluate evidence of misconduct without the filmmaker first returning to California.
The district attorney's office argued that a long-established legal doctrine means that the director cannot ask for any favors from California courts unless he returns from his self-imposed exile.
“Do we want to send the message to not only this defendant but all other defendants that flight is an option?” asked Deputy Dist. Atty. Phyllis C. Asayama.
The charges date back to a 13-year-old girl's accusations that the acclaimed director, then 43, raped and sodomized her during a photo shoot. Polanski pleaded guilty to a single count of statutory rape after the girl's parents urged prosecutors to settle the case to spare her the ordeal of a trial.
He spent 42 days in prison but fled after his attorney told him that Rittenband planned to give him an additional 48 days behind bars at his formal sentencing. An attorney for the victim spoke at today's hearing in support of Polanski.
Pakistan says arrested American men hoped to joint militants
The U.S. is more cautious, with an official saying the five Muslims from suburban Virginia apparently weren't on the verge of violence. They may be handed over to the FBI.
by Sebastian Rotella and Alex Rodriguez
10:22 PM PST, December 10, 2009
Reporting from Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan
A close-knit group of five American Muslims from suburban Virginia had been trying to join a militant group in the Al Qaeda stronghold of northwestern Pakistan when they were arrested this week, Pakistani authorities said Thursday.
Laptop computers, maps and extremist literature recovered in a raid on a house owned by the family of one of the five in Sargodha, in eastern Pakistan, suggest that the Americans wanted to train for jihad, or holy war, authorities said.
The young men had communicated with a militant group and may have intended to travel to Miran Shah, in the North Waziristan region dominated by Al Qaeda and the Taliban, authorities said.
"They were definitely planning jihad activity," said Usman Anwar, the top police official in Sargodha. "The planning was almost complete, but we arrested them and their plot has failed."
U.S. authorities were cautious about characterizing the latest in a series of cases in which American Muslims are suspected of seeking to join militant networks.
A U.S. anti-terrorism official said it did not appear that the men had been on the verge of violence.
The men, whose arrests were confirmed by authorities Wednesday, have not been charged with a crime, officials pointed out.
FBI agents based in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have talked to the men, who were in Pakistani custody, a U.S. official said Thursday.
"I would describe it right now as a fact-finding mission because American citizens have been arrested in a foreign country," said the U.S. official, who requested anonymity because of the continuing investigation. "They are still trying to determine exactly what happened."
Conversations were underway about having the men turned over to the FBI, officials said.
A Pakistani Embassy spokesman in Washington said that on their visa applications, the Americans cited the wedding of a friend and sightseeing as their reasons for visiting Pakistan.
"One cannot say who their connections were, what was their purpose, what they were intending to do," spokesman Nadeem Kiani said.
The men flew into the southern port city of Karachi on Nov. 30, traveled to Lahore on Saturday and then to Sargodha before they were arrested after raising suspicions, Kiani said earlier.
Three of the men seemed emotionally overwhelmed by their arrest, said the anti-terrorism official, citing communications from investigators in Pakistan.
"I think they realized they were in deeper than they thought. They really want to get out of there and come home," said the official, who requested anonymity because the case remains open.
The five men are U.S. citizens of Pakistani, African and Egyptian descent and range in age from 18 to 24.
They worshiped together and lived in a working-class, ethnically mixed area of suburban Alexandria near a retail strip where a Mexican restaurant abuts a Chinese restaurant and an African American hair salon.
Their families became alarmed when the five left Washington for Karachi via London on Nov. 28, officials said.
Relatives found a videotape that depicted scenes of American casualties and a speech by one of the men talking about the need to defend Muslims, officials said.
The worried family members then contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim group, which set up a meeting with the FBI on Dec. 1, according to Ibrahim Hooper, the group's national communications director.
"To varying degrees [the parents] were upset, devastated and frightened about what they were imagining might be happening," Hooper said. "At that point we had no idea what was going on. We had warning flags that they had possibly gone overseas without their parents."
A U.S. law enforcement official described the families as models of cooperation. In addition to sounding the alarm, they shared their sons' computers and other electronic devices with FBI agents from the Washington field office, the official said.
One urgent avenue of inquiry for U.S. investigators is how the men might have been radicalized and encouraged to go to Pakistan. A U.S. intelligence official said there was no immediate evidence of any U.S.-based accomplices or recruiters.
CAIR leaders said they hoped this case could be a turning point in a sometimes "strained" relationship between American Muslims and the FBI.
"The FBI was unaware of this case and unsure this had taken place," said Nihad Awad, CAIR's executive director. "It shows the importance of partnerships between parents and organizations like CAIR and law enforcement authorities. . . . We see it as a success story."
U.S. anti-terrorism officials said they believe the leader of the detainees is Ramy Zamzam, 22, an Egyptian-born dental student at Howard University. He is a former president of the Muslim Student Assn. in the Washington, D.C., area. Zamzam arrived in the United States at an early age and became a citizen in 1999, officials said.
Another member of the group, Umar Farooq Chaudhry, 24, born in Pakistan and naturalized three years ago, apparently provided a place for them to stay.
Pakistani police said the house where the group was captured in Sargodha belongs to Fahim Farooq, who is Farooq Chaudhry's uncle. But U.S. officials said they believe the house belongs to Farooq Chaudhry's father. The father is in Pakistan and has been trying to help the jailed men, the U.S. anti-terrorism official said.
The other men were all born in the United States, U.S. officials said. Pakistani American Waqar Khan, 22, is the only one with a criminal record, the anti-terrorism official said. In 2006, he was convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement and received a 12-month suspended sentence, the official said.
Amin Yemer, 18, is of Ethiopian descent and lived for a time in Seattle, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. Ahmad Minni, 20, is apparently the son of Ethiopian immigrants, a Pakistani official said.
The group lived in modest houses, townhomes and apartments within a few blocks of one another. They were apparently roommates at different points, officials said.
Hooper, of CAIR, said the council was exploring the Internet as a prime source of extremist viewpoints that may have helped radicalize the men.
"That's why," he said, "we're putting together, over the next few weeks, a nationwide campaign challenging religious extremism and offering a mainstream viewpoint."
Young Latinos seem to face a tougher future
Those between the ages of 16 and 25 are more likely than other young people to have a child before 19, drop out of school and live in poverty, a study finds.
by Anna Gorman
December 11, 2009
Latinos believe education and hard work are key to a successful future, but they are more likely than other young people to drop out of school and live in poverty, according to a new Pew Hispanic Center study being released today.
The study, based on a survey of more than 1,200 Latinos ages 16 to 25 and an analysis of census data, presents a portrait of the assimilation of a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, one that will have a significant effect on the nation's politics and economics in coming years. Young Latinos make up 18% of all young people in the nation and 42% in California.
About one-third of young Latinos are immigrants, but two-thirds are born in the U.S. Many are the children of immigrants who began arriving in the U.S. in 1965.
"If you want to understand what America is going to be like in the 21st century, you need to have understanding of how today's young Latinos, most of whom are not immigrants, will grow up," said Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. "Never before in this nation's history has a minority ethnic group made up so large a share of the youngest Americans."
That could raise concerns in some areas. About one-quarter of all young Latinas have a child by age 19, a rate higher than whites, Asians and blacks. About 17% of Latinos drop out of school -- nearly double the rate among blacks. And about 23% of young Latinos live in poverty -- higher than whites but lower than blacks.
But over time, Latinos gain more education -- those born in the U.S. are less likely to leave high school than those in the first generation, according to the study. The U.S.-born are also less likely than foreign-born young Latinos to be employed in construction, food preparation or other low-skilled jobs. They are also more proficient in English and less likely to live in poverty.
However, those born in the U.S. are more likely to have gang ties or be incarcerated, according to the study.
The findings also raise questions about identity. More than half of the young people identify themselves first by their family's native country. Among those born in the U.S., 33% say they are American first, and 41% identify themselves by their parents' homeland.
"They are growing up in households where the immigrant experience is a very recent experience," said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center.
From the Washington Times
Missile failure lights up Norway
by Vladimir Isachenkov ASSOCIATED PRESS
MOSCOW | The failure of a new Russian intercontinental ballistic missile during testing was the cause of spectacular spiraling blue lights in the skies over northern Norway, analysts said Thursday.
Russia's Defense Ministry said a Bulava missile was launched Wednesday by a nuclear submarine submerged in the White Sea and its third stage suffered an unspecified failure.
Photographs and amateur video footage of the bluish-white in the Norwegian skies have been circulating on the Internet since Wednesday. Russia did not confirm that these lights were the result of the failed launch, but military analysts said the lights were clearly a result from the explosion of the Bulava.
"This kind of light show comes from a failed missile launch," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst. "Russia has run free fireworks for the Norwegians."
The botched launch was the 12th test of the Bulava and its eighth failure, which deals another blow to the Kremlin's hopes that the sea-based weapon would become a cornerstone of its nuclear arsenal.
"They will have to spend quite a long time trying to make it working," said Alexander Konovalov, the head of the Moscow-based Institute for Strategic Assessment. "That is fraught with very negative consequences, up to the loss of the sea-based component of the Russian nuclear forces."
The ministry said that a government commission was looking into the reason for the test failure.
Officials have insisted that the Bulava's design is fine and have blamed the previous failures on manufacturing flaws resulting from post-Soviet industrial degradation. They have said it's difficult to control the quality of all the parts supplied by the hundreds of subcontractors involved in the program.
"Every time they give a different reason for the failure, and that shows that there are problems with the quality of components," said Alexander Golts, an independent military analyst. "To build a state-of-the-art weapon like the Bulava, it's necessary to have a chain of subcontractors working well. Clearly, they can't do it."
Despite the repeated failures, the military must make Bulava work, military analysts said.
The missile was fired from a new nuclear-powered submarine, launched earlier this year and undergoing sea trials. Two more subs are being built and the construction of a fourth will start soon.
The new submarines would replace the aging Soviet-era ones, which are approaching the end of their lifetimes. The old submarines carry the Sineva missile, which is too big and too heavy for the new type of submarines.
"It's a paradoxical situation," Mr. Konovalov said. "We have the Sineva missiles, which are quite good, but the submarines carrying them won't serve for long. And we have a new good type of submarines supposed to carry the Bulava, but the Bulava isn't available."
Immigration database adding self-check option
by Stephen Dinan
U.S. immigration authorities are planning to add a self-check system so workers can pre-screen themselves with E-Verify, the controversial electronic database used on a voluntary basis by some employers to screen their employees.
The move would try to bridge the gap between the two sides in the immigration debate by putting power in the hands of workers, who could make sure of their status before applying for new jobs.
Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the move is in the works, though he said it's too early to provide details.
"We are developing it with the goal of employees being able to self-check," he said.
In a briefing with reporters, Mr. Mayorkas also said definitively his agency "will be ready" to implement any immigrant-legalization program Congress might pass, though he would not give any specifics and said a lot depends on what the new law would look like. He also said it might take more funding from Congress to get the agency ready.
Wading into another contentious battle, Mr. Mayorkas said immigration-benefit fee increases are possible, but said no decision has been made. When his predecessor as director, Emilio T. Gonzalez, pushed through a fee increase to improve services, he was blasted by immigrant rights advocates and some Democrats in Congress, who said it unfairly put benefits out of the reach of many would-be applicants.
Mr. Mayorkas said applications, which peaked right before that last fee increase, have dropped. And since the agency is funded mostly from application fees, that's put a squeeze on USCIS's finances.
On E-Verify, Mr. Mayorkas said the program remains a strong tool to help make sure jobs go to citizens and legal immigrants.
"It protects employees from exploitive employers. It enables employers to ensure the lawfulness of their work force, and therefore comply with the law," he said.
E-Verify began in the 1990s as a voluntary pilot program to allow employers to check new hires' Social Security numbers to see if they were eligible to work.
More than 170,000 employers are signed up to use the Web-based system. Some states have made its use mandatory for all businesses, and others have required state contractors to use it. The federal government this year began requiring contractors to check both new hires and all employees who are working on federal contracts.
Nearly 97 percent of all workers are approved automatically, while the rest are allowed to contest a non-confirmation. Only three-tenths of a percent of those checked successfully contest a non-confirmation.
The self-check system would cut down on the need for those instances.
"This would address a big concern for worker advocates, and it would improve the accuracy of the databases," said Marc R. Rosenblum, a senior analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
He said one concern right now is that employers might run employees through the database before making a final job offer, and some workers who are erroneously flagged as not authorized could be denied jobs unfairly.
Rosemary Jenks, government relations director at NumbersUSA, which advocates for a crackdown on illegal immigration, said the move is welcome, but she said it would be even better to extend the program to more employers and allow them to check all employees, not just new hires.
"It's perfectly fine, but it seems like it's putting the cart before the horse a little bit," she said.
Police say U.S. Muslims sought jihad
by Asif Shahzad ASSOCIATED PRESS
SARGODHA, Pakistan | Five young American Muslims arrested in Pakistan met with representatives of an al Qaeda-linked group and asked for training but were turned down because they lacked references from trusted militants, a Pakistani law enforcement official said Thursday.
Another senior officer said the men wanted to fight jihad, or holy war, in northwestern Pakistan and against American troops in Afghanistan.
The young men apparently first tried to contact jihadist groups through Facebook and YouTube, then traveled to Pakistan to attempt personal meetings, a Pakistani diplomat in Washington said.
U.S. officials in Pakistan have visited the men in custody. Their disappearance from the Washington area late last month - with one of them leaving behind a militaristic farewell video saying Muslims must be defended - prompted a frantic search by friends and family and an investigation by worried counterterrorism officials.
Javed Islam, a regional police chief in Pakistan, said the men wanted to join Islamic militants in the country's tribal area before crossing into Afghanistan and said they met with a banned organization, Jaish-e-Mohammed in Hyderabad, and with representatives of a related group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, in Lahore.
He said the arrested Americans had spent the past few days in Sargodha, 125 miles south of the capital, Islamabad, before their arrest.
The men used the social networking site Facebook and the Internet video site YouTube to try to connect with extremist groups in Pakistan, said S.M. Imran Gardezi, the press minister at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.
Local Pakistanis became suspicious of the young men and tipped off police, he said. Police arrested the group in a home belonging to the uncle of one of the men. Mr. Gardezi said the uncle had past ties to extremist groups.
Mr. Gardezi said that the men have not been turned over to the FBI and that Pakistan intended to carry out its own legal process.
The men range in age from 19 to 25. Three of the arrested Americans are of Pakistani descent, one is of Egyptian descent and the other has Yemeni origins, Pakistani police officer Tahir Gujjar said.
One, Ramy Zamzam, is a dental student at Howard University. Officer Gujjar identified three of the others under arrest as Eman Yasir, Waqar Hasan and Umer Farooq.
The fifth young man was identified as Ahmed Mimi by a Pakistani government official in Washington.
Mr. Farooq's father, Khalid Farooq, also was detained. Pakistan police officials say the elder Mr. Farooq had a computer business in Virginia and shuttled between the U.S. and Pakistan.
Political correctness kills
by Rep. John Carter
Fourteen Americans died in the terrorist attack at Fort Hood. It could have been prevented had we heeded the glaring warning signs. A thorough congressional investigation may help us identify specific individuals, agencies and policies that contributed to the tragedy, but the ultimate cause of our failure to stop both this attack and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is already known.
Political correctness is killing Americans and undermining the national security of the United States.
Americans are good people who have developed a very strong aversion to judging others because of their race, ethnic background, religion or factors other than individual character and conduct. However, our virtue is being used as a powerful weapon against us by political extremists within our country and enemies without.
We must not wrongfully prejudge people. However, we also can no longer refuse to take the steps necessary to defend ourselves, as clearly was the case with the Fort Hood attack. We can't allow political correctness to intimidate Americans from speaking out against clear and present dangers out of fear they will be ridiculed or penalized for offending any group. We should have learned that lesson in 2001.
Muslim males with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons - including Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, then of Northern Virginia - rammed airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 2,976 men, women and children.
A Muslim male with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons attempted to bomb a U.S. airliner with a shoe bomb in December 2001.
A Muslim male with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons attacked the Los Angeles airport in July 2002, killing two persons and wounding four.
A Muslim male with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons engaged in a sniping attack with a juvenile accomplice in the Washington area in October 2002, killing 10 and wounding three.
A Muslim male with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons attacked his fellow U.S. Army soldiers in their tents in Kuwait in 2003, killing two and wounding 14 of his own comrades, a foreshadowing of the Fort Hood attack.
Muslim males with ties to radical Islamic groups and individuals attempted to plan the bombing of the Sears Tower in Chicago in August 2006.
Muslim males with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons, including Mr. Al-Awlaki - now in Yemen - plotted in 2006 to attack the Canadian Parliament and other buildings in Toronto.
Muslim males with ties to radical Islamic groups and individuals - including the same Mr. Al-Awlaki in Yemen - were arrested in May 2007 for planning an automatic weapons attack on U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.
A Muslim male with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons attacked a U.S. Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark., in June, killing two recruiters.
The FBI and the Defense Department were aware that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was in contact with the same Mr. Al-Awlaki in Yemen with ties to the Sept. 11 attackers and the plot to attack Fort Dix, and that Maj. Hasan made verbal and written statements justifying attacks.
Maj. Hasan's profile, associations, communications and actions were a perfect match with multiple previous attacks in this country that had killed nearly 3,000 Americans since 2001. Yet no action was taken.
So another Muslim male with ties to radical Islamic groups and persons, including Mr. Al-Awlaki in Yemen, stands accused of attacking our soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, killing 14 and wounding 32. Mr. Al-Awlaki is publicly praising Maj. Hasan as a "hero."
What has been done since? Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's chief concern apparently is not why the FBI and other authorities failed to prevent another attack, but whether the public might be led to blame Muslims in general, which would be politically incorrect. This is the same Department of Homeland Security that had no problem warning law enforcement agencies earlier this year of a supposed threat from "right-wing extremists," defined as Americans who believe in the Constitution and oppose Obama administration policies.
Yes, a distinction needs to be made. No one is calling for rounding up law-abiding and loyal Americans of the Muslim faith or singling out anyone in this country for investigation simply because of his or her ethnic or religious background. We are not discussing all Muslims - or any group, for that matter.
But when a Muslim male contacts the radical Islamic colleague of the Sept. 11 hijackers, the Fort Dix shooting plot and the Canadian Parliament bombing plot; tells responsible people that he sympathizes with our enemies; and claims that jihad against the United States is justified, somebody needs to stop him instead of failing to act from fear of violating the unwritten taboos of political correctness.
We are letting political correctness destroy our nation. It cost the lives of 14 Americans at Fort Hood, and the current administration apparently has not learned a thing.
There is a simple definition of political correctness. It is just another word for a lie. When we say we have no need to fear or take action against people with clear ties to radical Islamic terrorists, that's a lie.
We must start acknowledging the truth if we want to survive as a free nation.
Rep. John Carter is a Texas Republican. Fort Hood is in his congressional district.
A gun case or Pandora's box?
by Ken Klukowski and Ken Blackwell
Many have heard about the historic gun rights case going to the Supreme Court. Fewer have heard that this is also a major case for businesses and family values. It could lead to anything from court-ordered Obamacare to same-sex marriage. This is the biggest case of the year, and everyone has a stake in it.
On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago. It is a gun rights case, challenging Chicago's categorical ban on handguns. The ban is essentially identical to the D.C. gun ban that was struck down by the Supreme Court in the 2008 case D.C. v. Heller, in which the court held that an absolute ban in the federal city violates the Second Amendment.
The question in this case is whether the Second Amendment applies to cities and states as it does to the federal government. The Bill of Rights applies only against actions of the federal government. Most of the Bill of Rights has since been applied to the states (or "incorporated," to use the legal term) by the Fourteenth Amendment. The question in McDonald is whether the right to keep and bear arms is incorporated against the states.
So far, so good. More than 70 percent of Americans think the Constitution gives them a right to own a gun, and more than that think any provision in the Bill of Rights should give Americans rights against cities and states, not just the federal government.
The problem is that this case is more about the Fourteenth Amendment than the Second Amendment. Every provision from the Bill of Rights that has been incorporated to the states thus far has been incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. There are all sorts of reasons that Due Process incorporation is problematic, but it's the way the court has always done it. That's why the National Rifle Association is focusing on this conventional approach in its brief to the court in McDonald v. Chicago.
However, the team representing Otis McDonald is pushing the court to consider a new route and incorporate the right through another provision, called the Privileges or Immunities Clause. Although that may sound like legal mumbo-jumbo, the reality is that it could change forever our system of federal and state government.
The Privileges or Immunities Clause says states cannot enforce any law that abridges the rights of U.S. citizenship. In 1873, just five years after the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, the Supreme Court held in a landmark case called the Slaughterhouse Cases that this clause only extends to the states the rights of federal citizenship and strongly suggested that such rights must be found in the Constitution's text. The high court thus rejected a claim brought by some Louisiana butchers asking it to strike down a state law regulating the slaughtering of animals around New Orleans.
What's so important about that ruling is that there's nothing in the Constitution about such an economic right. Had the court accepted the butchers' argument and struck down the Louisiana law, federal courts would have the power to declare anything they want to be a right of U.S. citizenship and strike down any state or local law they don't like.
The libertarian lawyers representing Otis McDonald in the current lawsuit acknowledge that their goal is to persuade the court to overrule the Slaughterhouse Cases. Then federal judges could use the Privileges or Immunities Clause to challenge state and local labor laws, commercial laws, employment laws and business regulations across the country.
That would destroy federalism as we know it in this country; life-appointed federal judges could override the decisions made by elected leaders that we, the voters, choose. The people ultimately making those decisions would no longer answer to us.
But that's not the worst of it.
If the court overrules the Slaughterhouse Cases, the Privileges or Immunities Clause can mean anything courts say it means. The Supreme Court could declare a constitutional right to government-provided health care or "decent" housing, a free college education, a "living wage" or a clean environment, resulting in a court-ordered cap-and-trade system.
It also could completely change American culture, with the court having a new basis upon which to declare constitutional rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, obscene material or a child's "right" to a public-school education over his parents' objections. It's because of these social issues, in particular, that the Family Research Council has weighed in on this case.
Although it should be about the Second Amendment, this gun rights case is, instead, a Trojan horse for everything except guns. It could remake America's economy and culture. That's why several conservative groups have weighed in with a brief asking the court to incorporate the Second Amendment through the Privileges or Immunities Clause but to do so without overruling the Slaughterhouse Cases.
McDonald v. Chicago is as big as it gets. All eyes will be on the Supreme Court early next year.
Ken Klukowski is a fellow and senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union and authored the brief mentioned above in the case McDonald v. Chicago. Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow with the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
From the White House
White House Holds Expert Meeting to Discuss Issues around Women and HIV
by Adelle Simmons
December 10, 2009 at 06:14 PM EST
On Tuesday, December 8, the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and the Council on Women and Girls co-hosted a Women and HIV Meeting at the White House. The purpose of the meeting was to examine effective approaches to lowering HIV incidence in women, reducing racial disparities in infection rates and access to care, and improving services for women and girls living with HIV.
It was an insightful discussion on lessons learned specific to women and will help inform the development of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) . This Strategy has three primary goals: reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.
Meeting attendees included representatives from organizations across the country, including national advocacy groups, service providers, state and county government, Federal agencies, and researchers. Women living with HIV were well represented.
After being welcomed by ONAP Director Jeffrey Crowley, the meeting participants heard remarks from Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the new Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D. Both relayed their personal and professional commitment to strengthening our nation's response to HIV/AIDS. They also addressed why women must be a priority population in the NHAS because of the disease's disproportionate impact on women.
We had an excellent panel of presenters at the meeting, which covered racial/ethnic and gender disparities related to HIV/AIDS and gender-based and community-level prevention strategies. Dr. Ada Adimora of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill described how social networks and factors like incarceration rates among Black men influence the risk of HIV infection among Black women. Dawn Averitt Bridge of The Well Project proposed integrated approaches to HIV, STI, and reproductive health care and stressed the need for more research to identify effective interventions.
Following the presentations, a panel discussion addressed HIV and related civil rights issues, and noted how health insurance reform is critical for improving access to HIV care and treatment. Comments from audience members highlighted that people living with HIV still face discrimination, and that there's a need for increased availability of female-controlled prevention methods. The stimulating discussion raised key issues for ONAP to consider in developing the NHAS – including the need for HIV education to help health professionals provide culturally sensitive care.
Melody Barnes, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, made remarks about President Obama's commitment to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. And Tina Tchen, Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, provided closing remarks inviting future public engagement on HIV and related issues.
Bringing together a diverse group of experts to share ideas was a great way to help ONAP move ahead on developing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy that prioritizes women's health issues. We look forward to continuing the dialogue on this issue.
Adelle Simmons is a Policy Advisor in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy
From the DHS
Testimony of Secretary Napolitano before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary,
December 9, 2009
"Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security"
Hart Senate Office Building
(Remarks as Prepared)
Thank you, Chairman Leahy, and members of the committee for the opportunity to give an update on the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) efforts to secure our country and protect the American people from the range of threats we face – from terrorism and natural disasters to cyber attacks and infectious diseases like H1N1.
In my previous appearance before the committee, I discussed the critical issue of immigration. Today I would like to again highlight the Department's work in this important area and the progress we have achieved over the past year.
Securing our borders, enforcing our nation's immigration laws, and providing timely and effective immigration benefits and services to millions of lawful immigrants each year remains one of the Department's most important missions.
It is a mission that our more than 230,000 employees contribute to every day with tremendous dedication and skill. It is a mission that impacts our national security, our national sovereignty, and the health of our economy. And it is a mission that goes to the core of our national identity as both a nation of immigrants and also a nation of laws.
Much has been accomplished to meet our border security and immigration-related responsibilities since I first appeared before this Committee in May, 2009.
For example, partially as a result of our Southwest Border Initiative and increased enforcement, seizures of illegal drugs, cash, and weapons have increased, while apprehensions of illegal aliens at the border have dropped to their lowest levels in decades, signaling reduced traffic flows and fewer attempts to illegally enter the United States.
Similarly, in the interior of the country, deportations are at historic highs, the result of a stronger focus on identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens, fugitives, and gang members; and developing stronger partnerships with federal, state, local, tribal, and international law enforcement, who serve as vital force multipliers to our efforts.
We also have worked to streamline our legal immigration procedures and benefits, reducing name check backlogs for those seeking to live or work in the United States, and launching a much improved, customer-friendly website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides e-mail and text message alerts to individuals seeking updates on their case status. And we have continued to provide enhanced tools to the nation's employers, including the web-based E-Verify system, to help them maintain a legal workforce.
In addition, we have taken action to improve management and oversight of detention facilities that house illegal aliens, launching a major overhaul of the immigration detention system to prioritize risk, strengthen oversight, increase efficiency, and ensure consistent treatment, standards, and care for those in federal custody.
These changes reflect a more focused, strategic, and common-sense approach to all aspects of immigration, from illegal entry at the border to enforcement in the interior to the procedures for legal immigration. As we have implemented these improvements, we have continued to ensure that lawful trade and travel move freely across our borders by strengthening travel document security requirements, enhancing our biometrics collection, and working with states to develop secure forms of identification.
Our commitment to securing our country and enforcing the law has never been stronger. This is what the American people expect of the Department and it is the duty we have sworn to uphold.
In my time today, I would like to discuss these important objectives and the Department's work to meet them over the past year, as well as what the Obama Administration considers to be the necessary and equally important path forward: developing a set of reforms that will address long-standing structural problems with our nation's immigration system and the laws and policies that govern it.
We can no longer perpetuate a status quo that is unacceptable for workers, employers, law enforcement, faith leaders, and America as a whole. We must seize this moment to build a truly effective immigration system that deters illegal immigration, provides effective and enduring enforcement tools, protects workers from exploitation and retaliation, and creates a tough but fair path to legalization for the millions of illegal immigrants already here.
I am committed to working with this Committee to realize this goal and create a 21st century immigration system that works for everyone, including the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security who are charged with protecting our borders and enforcing our immigration laws.
II. Securing Our Borders
Let me be clear: an effective immigration system begins with secure borders. In May, 2009, the Obama Administration launched the Southwest Border Initiative to strengthen security along our southwest border, prevent illegal entry and the movement of contraband, and assist Mexico in its efforts to combat rising drug-cartel violence. Over the past year, we also launched important new initiatives to strengthen security on our northern border, and at our land, air, and sea ports of entry.
For example, under the Southwest Border Initiative, we have deployed additional technology, manpower, and resources to the border; strengthened partnerships with state and local law enforcement; and created a more robust partnership with Mexico to break apart the criminal infrastructure supporting the drug cartels and prevent similar violence on the U.S. side of the border.
Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BESTs)
A major part of this effort has included the expansion of multi-agency Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) teams, which work to address border-related crime, including arms trafficking and human, bulk cash, and narcotics smuggling.
The BEST model has proven extremely effective. BESTs incorporate personnel from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); U.S. Attorney's Offices; and federal, state, local, tribal and foreign law enforcement agencies.
ICE, which leads the BEST teams, has established new BESTs in Las Cruces and Deming, New Mexico, and Mexico City, resulting in a total of 17 BESTs covering high-threat smuggling corridors, including along our northern border. Furthering this collaboration, the Mexican government has agreed to provide representatives to every BEST team on the southwest border, in addition to supporting the new BEST in Mexico City.
Since the launch of the Southwest Border Initiative, BESTs have seized over 1,809 pounds of cocaine, 45,889 pounds of marijuana, 571 pounds of methamphetamine, 45 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, 251 pounds of ecstasy, and 17 pounds of heroin. BESTs also have seized 1,361 weapons, 277 vehicles, and $8.2 million in U.S. currency and monetary instruments. All of these seizures represent an increase over the same reporting period from 2008.
Armas Cruzadas and Other Efforts
In addition to this effort, ICE has continued to support Operation Armas Cruzadas, a collaborative, intelligence-driven initiative with the Mexican government to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal networks that illicitly transport arms across the border.
Since the launch of the Southwest Border Initiative, Armas Cruzadas operations have accounted for the seizure of 361 firearms, 38,878 rounds of ammunition, and criminal arrests of 107 individuals. Overall, since its creation in 2008, Armas Cruzadas has resulted in the seizure of 1,890 weapons, 206,412 rounds of ammunition, criminal arrests of 257 individuals, and more than $7.9 million.
Under the Southwest Border Initiative, DHS also has implemented for the first time 100 percent southbound rail screening to prevent illegal guns and cash from entering Mexico. CBP also has assigned 100 Border Patrol agents to conduct outbound operations at ports of entry; deployed additional non-intrusive inspection imaging systems to increase scanning of vehicles; assigned 13 additional currency and firearms canine teams to southwest border land ports; and deployed six Mobile Response Team special operations and other assets to support surge operations against drug trafficking organizations.
This comes in addition to the deployment of additional ICE attaches to Mexico City and an increase in ICE Border Liaison Officers to work with their Mexican counterparts.
Collaboration with Mexico
We also have continued to further our collaboration with the Government of Mexico. In addition to the increases in staffing support and joint law enforcement that I noted earlier, we have implemented new Border Violence Protocols with Mexico to foster greater bi-national coordination when incidents of border violence occur.
CBP also has coordinated multiple bi-national border operations with Mexico to conduct enhanced outbound inspections on the U.S side of the border and enhanced inbound operations at nearby port crossings on the Mexico side of the border.
Under the Illegal Drug Project, ICE, CBP, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) also are collaborating with the Mexican Office of the Attorney General to prosecute narcotics seizures that occur at the Nogales, Arizona, port of entry that the U.S. Attorney's office declines to prosecute. The program increases pressure on drug trafficking organizations operating in the area by giving Mexico the necessary information to prosecute these cases.
In addition, we have continued to provide technical support and capacity building to Mexico under the Merida Initiative, a multi-year program to provide assistance to Mexico and Central America to better equip law enforcement agencies to complete their missions. For example, ICE has deployed 24 Special Agents to Mexico to teach Basic Criminal Investigative Methods to approximately 2,000 Ministry of Public Security investigators.
The Merida Initiative also encompasses non-intrusive inspection equipment training, canine enforcement training, upgrades to automated systems, assistance in transitioning the Mexican Customs from a revenue-based institution to a law enforcement-based institution, and improvements in immigration control programs. At the end of Fiscal Year 2009, CBP received funding through an interagency agreement with the Department of State to provide training for 44 canines for Mexico Customs and training for Mexico's Secretariats of Public Security (SSP) on five x-ray vans. Training is anticipated to begin in late winter or early spring of 2010.
On December 7th, I also signed a new Declaration of Principles and Bilateral Strategic Plan with Mexican Secretary of Finance and Public Credit Agustín Carstens to create a framework for increased, intensified interaction and engagement between our nations. Under these updated and enhanced agreements, we will identify new joint initiatives and long-term programs to augment information sharing, coordinate our border management efforts, improve the efficiency of border operations, and strengthen law enforcement cooperation.
Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Partnerships
Beyond this collaboration, we have improved coordination and strengthened joint activities with our federal, state, tribal, and local government partners.
With the Department of Justice, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, our Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement, and other federal agencies, we have issued a new Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy which identifies the key elements needed to effectively combat drug trafficking organizations, and provides the roadmap for additional supporting actions in the areas of interdictions, investigations, technology, and international cooperation, while also improving counternarcotics coordination.
In June, ICE also reached new formal interagency agreements with DEA and ATF to improve coordination, increase partnerships, and expand information sharing. The agreement with DEA enhances the ability of ICE agents to investigate drug cases. It also increases the number of agents targeting international drug traffickers, improves and enhances information and intelligence sharing, and promotes effective coordination between agencies. ICE's updated agreement with the ATF furthers joint efforts to investigate international firearms trafficking and possession of firearms by illegal aliens.
ICE also has continued its partnership with the Tohono O'odham Nation to enlist the support of the Shadow Wolves, an elite unit of Native American Patrol Officers that work with ICE and CBP to help identify and track smugglers.
Our support to state and local communities through Operation Stonegarden also has continued. In Fiscal Year 2009, southwest border communities received $75 million in Stonegarden grants to help them respond to border-related crime, and we expect to provide an additional $60 million in Fiscal Year 2010.
As noted later in my testimony, the Department also has strengthened and expanded partnerships with state and local authorities through the Secure Communities and 287(g) programs, two important initiatives that leverage the support of state and local authorities to enforce immigration laws and identify and arrest criminal aliens booked in U.S. jails.
Technology remains a critical element in our overall border security strategy. In addition to the technology deployments noted earlier as part of the Southwest Border Initiative, we have continued to deploy technology under the SBInet program to increase our awareness of the border environment and improve the Border Patrol's ability to identify and respond to border incursions.
CBP is now conducting its first deployment of Tucson 1, a system of nine sensor towers and eight communications relay towers across 23 miles of the border near Sasabe, Arizona. This system will replace the prototype Project 28 system, which already has assisted the Border Patrol in making nearly 5,500 apprehensions and seizing nearly 15,900 pounds of marijuana. The Border Patrol expects to conduct operational testing of this new system early next year.
While this testing is underway, CBP will begin deployment of Ajo 1, a second technology system that will cover 30 miles of border near Ajo, Arizona. Both systems, once fully operational, will enhance the Border Patrol's ability to protect the border and leverage technology to more quickly and effectively identify and resolve illegal entries.
CBP also has deployed 41 mobile surveillance systems to provide radar and camera coverage along the southwest border, and it continues to operate five Predator B Unmanned Aircraft Systems, including two on the northern border.
Complementing this technology, CBP has successfully completed work on over 640 miles of fencing along the southwest border, and it has increased the ranks of the Border Patrol to more than 20,110 agents.
In addition to southwest border technology improvements, CBP began construction this year of Remote Video Surveillance Systems along the northern border at 11 sites in the Detroit Sector and 5 sites in the Buffalo Sector. CBP also deployed three Mobile Surveillance Systems in the Detroit and Swanton Sectors in 2009.
These deployments are part of a broader National Northern Border Strategy under development that seeks to improve intelligence and information sharing, enhance bi-lateral partnerships, expedite lawful travel and commerce, increase personnel and infrastructure, and enhance investigations of transnational crime. CBP expects to complete a draft of this strategy by mid-2010.
In the interim, CBP has continued to increase its Border Patrol presence on the northern Border to nearly 2,000 agents. This year, CBP also opened a new Unmanned Aerial System Operations Center in North Dakota, which provided critical support during the Red River Valley Floods by mapping flooded areas in North Dakota and Minnesota. As part of Operation Empire Shield, CBP also performed aerial surveillance operations along the maritime border of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence Seaway, and the land border of New York and Ontario. In addition, ICE stood up a new BEST team in Detroit, complementing existing BEST teams on the northern border in Buffalo, NY and Blaine, WA.
The Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs), comprising U.S. and Canadian federal, state, provincial, and local law enforcement personnel, also have continued to conduct intelligence-driven operations along the northern border. By incorporating integrated mobile response capability (air, land, marine), the IBETs provide participating law enforcement agencies with a force multiplier, maximizing our border enforcement efforts. There are twenty-four IBETs in fifteen IBET Regions along the Northern Border. Each of these IBETs actively shares information and participates in bi-national enforcement operations.
Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute and I have met numerous times with our Canadian counterparts over the past year to solidify new agreements to improve security coordination. This includes formalizing the Shiprider Program to conduct joint maritime law enforcement operations and signing new agreements to improve sharing of biometric records to prevent immigration fraud and maintain the integrity of our immigration system, harmonize trusted shipper programs, share information on currency seizures, and improve coordination during emergencies.
We will continue to work with our friends and allies in Canada to ensure effective security of the northern border, especially as we approach the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. In fact, DHS will have a presence at the interagency Joint Operations Center in Vancouver led by the State Department, as well as at the DHS-operated interagency Olympic Coordination Center in Bellingham, WA.
Impact and Results
Our efforts are achieving their desired results at the border. This year, CBP and ICE seized a combined 911,800 kilos of narcotics along the southwest border – an increase of 36 percent. Outbound currency seizures nationwide also increased 74 percent – totaling more than $57.9 million. From late March to November 2009, CBP seized $22.1 million in southbound currency at land border ports of entry – an increase of nearly 300 percent over the previous year.
In Fiscal Year 2009, CBP also apprehended just over 556,000 individuals attempting to illegally enter the United States – a decline of 23 percent over the previous year, and more than half the total from the busiest years of the past decade. Specific Border Patrol sectors experienced even further declines. Most notably, the El Paso Sector saw a 51 percent reduction in apprehensions, the Tucson Sector a 24 percent reduction, and the Rio Grande Valley Sector a 19 percent reduction. All these statistics indicate fewer attempts to illegally enter the United States.
In short, the security of our southwest border has been transformed. While work still remains, our efforts have made a real difference in communities from Texas to California.
III. Enforcing Immigration Laws
We also have made significant strides in enforcing the law in the interior of the United States, with a specific focus on identifying and removing criminal aliens that pose a threat to the American people.
Targeting Criminal Aliens
Over the past year, we significantly expanded the Secure Communities program, which identifies illegal aliens booked into local jails by checking their biometric fingerprints against DHS immigration databases. In its first year, the 95 jurisdictions that participate in Secure Communities helped us identify more than 111,000 criminal aliens in custody – allowing ICE to take appropriate action to ensure that criminal aliens are not released back into communities.
Since its inception in October 2008, Secure Communities has identified more than 11,000 aliens charged or convicted with Level 1 crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping, as well as more than 100,000 aliens convicted of Level 2 and 3 crimes, including burglary and serious property crimes.
In addition to Secure Communities, ICE has continued to support Operation Community Shield, an anti-gang initiative that seeks to identify, investigate, and remove illegal alien gang members from the United States. Since its inception in 2005, ICE and its partners have arrested more than 15,000 gang members and associates, almost 6,000 of whom have had violent criminal histories.
ICE's Criminal Alien Program also has helped to identify and arrest criminal aliens incarcerated within federal, state, and local prisons and jails. The Criminal Alien Program ensures that dangerous individuals are not released back into their communities by securing a final order of removal prior to the termination of their sentence. In Fiscal Year 2009, the program resulted in more than 341,000 interviews of incarcerated foreign-born nationals, and issued over 232,000 charging documents.
Through the National Fugitive Operations Program, ICE is also targeting aliens who have failed to depart the United States after receiving a final order of removal, deportation, or exclusion, or who failed to report to authorities after receiving a notice to do so. ICE currently has 104 fugitive operations teams deployed throughout the country. In Fiscal Year 2009, ICE successfully reduced the fugitive alien population by over 20,000 individuals.
In July, we also revised and standardized a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with state and local law enforcement under 287(g) authority to ensure that participating law enforcement agencies serve as effective force-multipliers in our efforts to identify and remove criminal aliens.
This new MOA aligns 287(g) local operations with major ICE enforcement priorities –specifically, the identification and removal of criminal aliens. It also defines the objectives of the 287(g) program, outlines the immigration enforcement authorities granted by the agreement, and provides guidelines for ICE's supervision of local agency officer operations, information reporting and tracking, complaint procedures, and implementation measures.
To address concerns that individuals may be arrested for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings, the new agreement also explains that participating local law enforcement agencies are required to pursue all criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody.
To date, ICE has trained more than 1,000 officers operating under 66 local 287(g) agreements between DHS and law enforcement agencies nationwide. Since January 2006, these officers have identified more than 120,000 individuals, predominantly in jails, who are suspected of being in the country illegally.
Furthermore, we have transformed worksite enforcement to address the demand side of illegal immigration. This year, ICE released new field guidance that formalizes procedures for arrest and removal of illegal workers identified during enforcement actions.
This new guidance increases our use of administrative tools such as Form 1-9 audits, criminal prosecutions, seizure of assets, civil fines, and debarment. It also promotes workplace compliance through the use of tools such as E-Verify, training, and best practices through ICE's Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program. The IMAGE program provides participating employers with education and training on proper hiring procedures, fraudulent document detection, use of E-Verify, and anti-discrimination procedures.
ICE is also auditing the books of thousands of employers suspected of relying on illegal labor to achieve an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Indeed, in a single day this past July, ICE audited more employers suspected of hiring illegal labor than had been audited in all of last year, reviewing more than 85,000 Form I-9s and identifying more than 14,000 suspect documents. Last month, ICE announced an additional 1,000 workplace audits.
ICE prioritizes its worksite enforcement operations by targeting the most egregious violators, which include those who abuse and exploit their workers, aid in the smuggling or trafficking of aliens into the United States, create false identity documents or facilitate document fraud, or create an entire business model using an unauthorized workforce.
We continue to encourage workplace compliance by expanding and improving E-Verify– our web-based system that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of employees. For most employers, the use of E-Verify is voluntary and limited to determining the employment eligibility of new hires only.
Over 175,000 employers representing more than 660,000 worksites are currently enrolled in E-Verify, with an average of 1,000 new employers enrolling weekly. Since the start of Fiscal Year 2010, employers have run over 2 million queries through E-Verify.
As this participation has expanded, USCIS has increased public education and employer training for E-Verify. In Fiscal Year 2009, USCIS held 125 live presentations, attended 15 conferences, and conducted 140 live Webinars. We remain committed to working closely with non-profits and worker advocacy organizations as we improve E-Verify to ensure it is a positive tool in increasing workplace compliance.
We also have continued to enhance and expand the system's capabilities. In February, USCIS added U.S. passport data to the system to help reduce mismatches for foreign-born U.S. citizens. Access to this passport data confirmed the work eligibility for an additional 15,000 employees last year.
Next year we plan to include passport and visa photos to further increase the system's effectiveness. We also plan to improve system navigation and offer some important features, such as an automated reminder for employers when work authorization documents expire, an enhanced case management system, and improved text and instructions to help employers avoid data entry errors.
USCIS also has launched a Compliance Tracking Management System, which serves as an electronic file cabinet to manage monitoring reports and the tracking of compliance cases. In November, USCIS also opened the Buffalo Verification Operations Center to perform immigration status verification checks and conduct monitoring and compliance for E-Verify.
In September, the amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) implemented the E-Verify federal contractor rule, which requires covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, to participate in E-Verify.
Employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the FAR E-Verify clause are required to use E-Verify to determine the employment eligibility of employees performing direct, substantial work under those federal contracts, and new hires organization-wide regardless of whether they are working on a federal contract. A federal contractor or subcontractor who has a contract with the FAR E-Verify clause also has the option to verify the company's entire workforce. To date, over 20,000 Federal Contractors have enrolled in E-Verify, generating more than 525,000 queries.
We will continue to increase the system's ability to automatically verify work eligible employees – currently 96.9 percent of all queries – and decrease the percentage of employees who need to follow up with the government to update their records.
In August, ICE announced a major overhaul of the immigration detention system.
Under this plan, ICE has created an Office of Detention Policy and Planning to lead the design of this new system, and appointed experts in healthcare administration and detention management to the office. ICE also has established an Office of Detention Oversight to improve current access to facilities and to investigate detainee complaints, and it has formed two advisory groups of local and national organizations to provide input and feedback on general policies, practices and detainee healthcare.
Building on these reforms, Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton and I announced additional initiatives on October 6th and a set of core principles that will guide this effort going forward.
Among these core principles, we will reduce detention costs, minimize the length of stays and ensure fair proceedings throughout the removal process; detain aliens in settings commensurate with their risk of flight or danger; be fiscally prudent in carrying out detention reform; provide sound medical care; and ensure that Alternatives to Detention are cost effective and promote a high rate of compliance for those with orders for removal or to appear in court.
Additional detention reforms include centralizing all of ICE's active contracts for detainee supervision under ICE headquarters rather than through disparate field offices and developing a new assessment tool to identify aliens suitable for alternatives to detention and classify detainees by their level of risk so that they can be placed in appropriate facilities. ICE also will develop a medical classification system to improve awareness of medical and mental health conditions of its detainees.
Moreover, ICE will more than double its on-site personnel from 23 to more than 50 to place federal employees in the facilities where more than 80 percent of ICE detainees are housed, strengthening day-to-day oversight at these facilities.
We expect these reforms to be budget neutral or result in cost savings. To ensure that this effort moves forward swiftly, I have established a set of one-year benchmarks to be met by the end of Fiscal Year 2010 that include reviewing all contracts for detention facilities, revising detention standards to reflect appropriate conditions for detainee populations; and issuing two competitive bids for detention facilities that reflect our core principles.
Ultimately, we believe these actions will meet ICE's detention needs, improve federal oversight, ensure appropriate custodial conditions and timely health care services for detainees, address special population needs, and ensure accountability.
IV. Improving the Legal Immigration Process
America is and will always be a nation of immigrants. The immigrant story is part of our national character, and immigration remains a source of great strength for our country and our economy.
We must ensure our nation's legal immigration policies and procedures are every bit as effective as our enforcement mechanisms against illegal immigration.
Over the past year we have focused on improving the systems that provide benefits and services to legal immigrants who live or work in the United States to make these systems more effective, responsive, and fair.
For example, working with the FBI, we ended the backlog for background checks on applicants for green cards and naturalization. We also expanded the opportunity for widows to gain legal status in the United States following the untimely death of their U.S. citizen spouses.
We also have launched a new interactive website at USCIS that allows people to receive information about the status of their immigration cases by e-mail or text message, and we have reduced the time it takes to process those cases. Content on the website also has been rewritten into clear, accessible language that meets the informational needs of legal immigrants and, for the first time ever, is available in Spanish.
Since August 2009, USCIS also has led a national education and outreach initiative to raise public awareness about the naturalization process and provide education on the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. To date, USCIS has held over 40 naturalization information sessions that have drawn nearly 4,000 participants. As part of its Citizenship Grant Program, USCIS also is providing $1.2 million in competitive grants to support citizenship preparation programs for legal permanent residents. And in October, USCIS fully implemented its new Naturalization Test, which emphasizes fundamental concepts of democracy, U.S. history, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
Additionally, through the expanded use of biometrics, USCIS is now better able to identify people committing immigration fraud, either by using someone else's documents or by forging documents to escape detection for a past crime or immigration violation. And we have enhanced our capacity to exclude those suspected of supporting terrorism or other serious international crimes before they enter our country.
V. Strengthening Identity Management, Trade, and Travel
In Fiscal Year 2009, CBP processed more than 361 million pedestrians and passengers at our ports of entry, and 110 million conveyances. In addition, CBP initiated more than 18,000 trade enforcement seizures at the ports of entry valued at more than $300 million, including intellectual property rights violations worth over $260 million.
We recognize the need to facilitate lawful trade and travel across the border in a safe and secure manner, while barring unlawful merchandise or travelers from entry into the United States. This is a balance we strive for every day, and I believe our programs and policies reflect this commitment.
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
On June 1st, 2009, CBP successfully implemented the land and sea requirements for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), fulfilling the 9/11 Commission recommendation and subsequent Congressional mandate to strengthen travel document security at our ports of entry.
Under WHTI, citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda are required to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes their identity and nationality to enter or depart the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.
Travel document compliance rates for WHTI continue to remain very high for U.S. and Canadian citizens. We are currently experiencing a 95 percent national compliance rate, with 98 percent compliance along the northern border and 93 percent compliance along the southern border. To date, there has been no discernable negative impact to our border operations.
We also have successfully installed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology at 39 major entry points along our borders with Canada and Mexico representing 95 percent of traffic volume at our land ports of entry. RFID technology, which is now available in 354 vehicle lanes, enables swifter processing at border crossings for travelers using new state-of-the-art travel documents.
There are currently more than 3.5 million RFID-enabled documents in the hands of U.S. and Canadian travelers, including 2 million U.S. passport cards; 670,000 Trusted Traveler Program (NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST) cards; and more than 450,000 enhanced driver licenses issued by four states (Washington, Michigan, New York and Vermont) and four Canadian provinces (Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario).
We also continue to engage Native American tribes in discussions on the development of enhanced tribal cards. To this end, we have signed Memoranda of Understanding with four tribes (Kootenai of Idaho; Pasqua Yaqui of Arizona; Seneca of New York; and the Tohono O'odham Nation).
One of our most important tools for preventing terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens from entering or remaining in the United States is our ability to capture biometric data from foreign nationals through US-VISIT.
US-VISIT enables CBP to deny admission to those ineligible to enter the country; analyzes entry records to help ICE apprehend those who remain illegally in the United States; assists USCIS in denying immigration benefits to applicants who have violated the terms of their admission; and assists the Department of State in denying visas to those who may have previously overstayed but who are no longer in the United States. Since September 2004, US-VISIT also has provided immigration and border management officials with records of the entries and exits of individual foreign nationals.
We have continued to enhance US-VISIT's capabilities by implementing 10-fingerprint processing. Ten-fingerprint scanners have now been deployed to all major ports of entry, providing the capability to capture 10 fingerprints from travelers. This has improved accuracy of identification, enhanced interoperability with the FBI and the Department of State, as well as with state, local, and tribal governments, and increased our ability to conduct full searches against latent fingerprint databases.
We also have continued to test US-VISIT biometric exit procedures for travelers departing U.S. airports and seaports. From May to June, 2009, US-VISIT conducted two air exit pilots at the Detroit Wayne Country Metropolitan Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In October, we provided an evaluation of these pilot tests to Congress and the Government Accountability Office.
Currently, we are reviewing public comments from the Notice of Proposed Rule Making the Department published in the Federal Register in April, 2009 proposing an exit system for airports. We will continue to work with Congress and industry partners to weigh our options and develop an effective system that meets our security objectives while facilitating lawful travel.
The 9/11 Commission Report made clear the need for secure identification – noting that for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. Law enforcement must have confidence that an ID holder is the person he or she claims to be. For this reason, we remain focused on assisting states in improving the security of driver's licenses, consistent with the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
However, under REAL ID, attempts to establish federal standards for secure identification have not been successful. States have rejected REAL ID due to their concern about exorbitant costs, unrealistic timelines, and impractical requirements.
Indeed, 13 states are prohibited by state statute from implementing REAL ID. Based on information provided by the states, only nine of 56 jurisdictions have indicated that they have achieved all 18 benchmarks necessary to demonstrate material compliance by the December 31, 2009 deadline. According to the REAL ID regulations, driver's licenses may not be accepted for federal purposes – such as boarding an aircraft – from states that cannot achieve material compliance by this deadline.
As desirable as the goals of REAL ID may be, the reality is that we will never have national standards for secure identification as long as states refuse to participate. Congressional action is required to break this impasse and allow the Department to move forward in conjunction with the states.
For this reason, the Department continues to support the approach outlined in the current PASS ID legislation before Congress, which addresses many of the major problems with REAL ID while keeping its best elements. It is a bipartisan bill that is supported by the National Governors Association and by law enforcement and privacy groups alike.
PASS ID keeps the strong security standards of REAL ID but gives states flexibility in achieving them. It requires states to ensure the physical security of driver's license production process, including the ability to secure the physical premises and document materials, background checks on employees dealing with driver's licenses, and fraudulent document identification training for employees. It also requires states to validate the legitimacy of underlying "source" documents, such as birth certificates, and requires electronic verification of Social Security numbers and lawful immigration status. It also retains requirements to ensure that federal agencies may only accept PASS IDs for official purposes, such as accessing sensitive federal facilities or boarding commercial airplanes.
These security enhancements – which all agree upon – are in jeopardy, because states will not implement REAL ID and Congress has not yet enacted PASS ID. As such, I encourage Congress to act quickly to enact PASS ID to help get our nation back on track to implement these important security mandates.
Should Congress not act before it adjourns this year, we have planned for contingencies related to REAL ID implementation to minimize the impact to U.S. citizens. Any of these steps, however, would represent a temporary approach that does not advance our collective security interests over the long-term.
VI. The Need for Immigration Reform
Over the past year, the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with other federal agencies, has taken major actions to secure our borders and implemented significant reforms to our immigration system within our current legal framework.
When it comes to immigration, everybody recognizes that our current system is not working and our laws need to change. American businesses, workers, and faith-based organizations have called for reform. Law enforcement and government at every level also have called for reform.
As the President has said, if we are truly going to fix this broken system, Congress will need to act. Immigration reform must consist of a "three-legged stool" that includes a commitment to serious and effective enforcement, improved legal flows for families and workers, and a firm but fair way to deal with those who are already here. And as I have always said, we must demand responsibility and accountability from everyone involved: immigrants, employers, and the government.
What might reform offer on the security side? I believe reform legislation should provide lasting and dedicated resources at our borders and critical legal tools that we do not currently have at our disposal.
For example, we need tougher anti-smuggling laws in dealing with the aggravated crimes smugglers commit – including assaulting law enforcement officers, endangering children, threatening relatives, and abandoning people in the desert. We also need to update laws that don't cover some of the new means by which criminals conduct their business.
We need improvements to the current law when it comes to interior and worksite enforcement. Dishonest businesses often ignore the civil fines for illegal employment now on the books because they are too low. In addition, it is difficult to prosecute worksite violations as felonies because of elaborate intent requirements built into current statutes.
But as the White House has made clear in their call for Congress to act: we will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows. We need legislation that creates the foundation for requiring illegal immigrants already in this country to register, supply biometric data, pass a criminal background check, pay requisite penalties, pay their taxes, and learn English in order to legalize their status. This approach recognizes that our laws have been violated by requiring illegal immigrants to meet numerous stringent penalties and requirements.
The immigration system must also work to support American families, businesses, and workers. I believe our system must be strong enough to prevent illegal entry and get criminal aliens off our streets and out of the country. But it must also be smart enough to reward the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that immigrants have always brought to America – traits that have built our Nation. In that spirit, DHS supports including certain students with long-standing roots in our country who attended our nation's schools within the coverage of comprehensive immigration reform.
Today, we have a system where America educates many of the brightest individuals from around the world, and then tells them to leave the country when many would rather start their own ventures, strengthen businesses, and employ people right here in America. Going forward, our visa policies must work for every sector of our economy, and across the income scale.
We need carefully crafted programs that allow American businesses to hire needed foreign workers while protecting the labor and health-and-safety rights of all workers. In my meetings with leaders in agriculture, service industries and other fields, they have told me that current visa policies are hindering the growth of businesses looking to expand.
We also have the benefit of knowing what didn't work in the past and there is widespread agreement on why prior attempts at reform did not succeed. Those efforts failed to address the underlying reason why most individuals are willing to either enter our country illegally or overstay a visa – jobs. A robust employment eligibility verification program is critical to effectively address the primary draw of illegal immigration.
In addition, our immigration system is outdated where families are concerned, and we need to modernize and streamline the laws governing this process. No one should have to wait in a line for years in order to reunite with a spouse or a young child.
At the end of the day, people need to be able to trust the system. Americans need to know that their government is committed to enforcing the law and securing the border – and that it takes this responsibility seriously. Law enforcement needs to have better legal tools and the necessary resources to deal with border-related and immigration-related crime. Businesses must be able find the workers they need here in America, rather than having to move overseas. And immigrants need to know that once we reform the laws and have a system that works, the contours of our immigration laws will endure.
I look forward to working with this Committee to define the path ahead. I appreciate your past support for the Department, your continued partnership, and your future collaboration.
From the Department of Justice
Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Joint Study on School Crime and Safety
"The study released today shines a light on a problem too often in the dark – youth violence. Schools should be safe havens where young people can learn and prosper, and anything less than that is unacceptable. We've met with students affected by the fatal beating of Derrion Albert in Chicago and brought teens struggling with the issue of dating violence here to Washington. Through these conversations, research like the study released today, and an intense focus on vital policy issues, we are gathering the tools necessary to address this problem effectively. In the coming year, the Departments of Education and Justice will work side-by-side with our local and community partners, bringing all of our combined resources to bear, to help stem the tide of youth violence.
"Eradicating youth violence is a priority of this administration and a priority of both these agencies. As cabinet officials, as concerned citizens and most importantly, as fathers, we are committed to continuing our work to eliminate youth violence."
The study can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/iscs09.htm.
Ft. Worth, Texas, Couple Charged with Holding Nigerian Woman in Domestic Servitude
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury has indicted a Ft. Worth, Texas, husband and wife, Emmanuel and Ngozi Nnaji, on charges of engaging in a nine-year scheme to compel the labor of a Nigerian victim as their domestic servant, the Justice Department announced today.
According to the seven-count indictment returned late yesterday, which charges the defendants with conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude, alien harboring and false statements, Emmanuel Nnaji and Ngozi Nnaji enticed a widowed Nigerian mother of six to come to the United States to be their domestic servant by falsely promising a salary and support for her children, who she was struggling to support.
The indictment alleges that the defendants procured fraudulent immigration documents, confiscated the victim's documents, harbored her in their home, compelled her to work long hours with no days off for little or no pay, used a scheme to isolate her and restrict her communications, withheld her documents and pay, and refused her requests to return home or be paid. The indictment also alleges the defendants failed to provide support for the victim's six children in Nigeria, limited and monitored contact with her family in Nigeria, isolated her from normal society in the United States, and refused to allow her to regularly attend church. The indictment alleges Emmanuel Nnaji sexually assaulted the victim and made her fearful to call the police.
If convicted, Ngozi and Emmanuel Nnaji each face a maximum sentence of up to 55 years in prison. An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Ngozi Nnaji, a Nigerian national, faces deportation following conviction on any of the charged felonies.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Trial Attorney Susan French of the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
From the FBI
|PLAYING WITH FIRE
The Dangers of Improvised Explosives
It was late on a recent Friday night when local authorities responded to a residential explosion. They found a middle-age man with serious injuries to his left hand and face—and they also found chemicals, fuses, and empty rifle shells in the home. The man later told our agents that out of boredom he was trying to make an explosive device from a “recipe” he found on the Internet.
As bizarre as the story might seem, our experts say that people experimenting with improvised (homemade) explosives is an all-too-common occurrence.
“Probably once a month I hear from law enforcement somewhere about someone blowing their hand off while experimenting in this manner,” said Kirk Yeager, an examiner in our Explosives Unit at the FBI Laboratory who is recognized as one of the foremost experts in the area of improvised explosives.
Yeager, a Ph.D chemist who joined the Bureau about 10 years ago, created the National Improvised Explosives Familiarization Initiative (NIEF) in 2007 to address the growing concern about terrorists—and others—who mix common household materials and over-the-counter products to make dangerous explosives.
NIEF is operated as a joint partnership with our Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, the Critical Incident Response Group, and the FBI Laboratory. Initially, 250 of our special agent bomb technicians and weapons of mass destruction coordinators received training about the kinds of products—ones typically found under kitchen sinks and in garages—that can burn or explode when combined, and how to disrupt or dismantle devices that use such products.
Then the training expanded to include regional bomb techs, members of our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, and other first responders. So far we've trained nearly 400 people in 11 regions nationwide. And many of them will bring the NIEF training to others in their communities, including parents and children.
Those who experiment with improvised explosives, Yeager said, may be bright youngsters curious about things that explode, those who actually want to cause destruction, or “perennial adolescents who just like to see things blow up.”
The Internet has certainly added to the problem. Not only do online searches yield recipes for making powerful bombs, they provide access to videos that offer step-by-step instructions.
“One of our best weapons to deal with this issue is public awareness,” said Donald Sachtleben, a retired special agent who leads many of the three-day NIEF training sessions. During the last day of training at our Quantico, Virginia facility earlier this month, members of regional bomb squads prepared some of the compounds they had learned about in the classroom for a live-fire demonstration. Later, they heard the deafening boom and felt the shock wave from 700 yards away when a mere 25 pounds of explosive material—small enough to sit unnoticed in the back seat of a car—split a two-ton vehicle in half, pulverizing everything but the engine block.
“We are all fascinated by bright lights and loud sounds,” Yeager said. “It's something almost primal.” But most people have enough sense to keep from experimenting with improvised explosives. Those who don't have enough sense—whether out of boredom or curiosity—should realize they are risking their own lives as well as others', Yeager added. “At the end of the day, they are making things just as dangerous as the most determined terrorist.”
From the DEA
Anchorage Career Offender Sentenced to Over 23 Years in Prison
DEC 10 -- ( Anchorage, Alaska) – DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Thomas and the United States Attorney for the District of Alaska, Karen Loeffler, announced today that Timothy Ray Moore was sentenced in federal court to 23 ½ years for his role in a violent multi-defendant conspiracy.
According to information presented in court, beginning in July 2005 through September 2008, Moore conspired to distribute over 50 grams of crack cocaine, over 500 grams of methamphetamine, and over 100 grams of heroin. Moore, 28, was arrested on September 18, 2008, at an Anchorage residence where police found over two pounds of methamphetamine, a quarter kilogram of heroin, two semi-automatic pistols, and over $45,000. In the course of the investigation, a dozen firearms were recovered, including two machine guns.
Moore's accomplices include Phonesavanh Vongthongdy, a/k/a "Noi", age 22, Kenese Sene, age 36, Seirosa Sia Milo, a/k/a "Losa", age 28, Miguel Robles, age 24, Vaughan Erickson, age 30, Harold Cogo Graham, age 23, and Patrick Allen Osburn, age 27. All have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Alleged ringleader Juan Manuel Mendiola is scheduled for trial in February 2010.
Prior to imposing sentence on Moore, Judge Beistline noted that Moore had been committing crimes since age 11, and told Moore that “[b]asically your entire adult life has been spent as a criminal.” Judge Beistline added that he had been “unable to find any redeeming social qualities” in Moore, and sentenced him as a career offender.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Anchorage Police Department's Drug Enforcement Unit and Special Assignment Unit, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Operation Super Chicken
KC Restaurant Owner Sentenced to 30 Years For $2.3 Million Cocaine Conspiracy, Money Laundering
DEC 10 -- ( KANSAS CITY, Mo.) – Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner of a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of cocaine from Mexico into the Kansas City area, as well as laundering $2.3 million in drug-trafficking proceeds.
Juan Delgado , also known as “Cachetes” and “Marana,” 35, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey this afternoon to 30 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Delgado to forfeit to the government more than $2.3 million that was received from the distribution of cocaine – including $880,296 that was seized during the course of the investigation, of which approximately $140,000, which was hidden in the bottom of a clothes hamper, behind a fake wall and in a closet of the Delgado home, was seized at the time of the arrest of Juan and his wife and co-defendant, Sylvia Delgado , 30. The court also ordered the forfeiture of several real estate properties, including 120 acres and a manufactured home in Benton County owned by Juan and Sylvia Delgado , two lots and a cabin in Camden County owned by Juan Delgado , and three residential properties in Kansas City owned by Juan and Sylvia Delgado .
Juan Delgado and his wife and co-defendant, Sylvia Delgado , 29, of Kansas City, are co-owners of Super Pollo, a Mexican restaurant at 3253 Independence Ave., Kansas City, Mo. They are citizens of Mexico. Sylvia Delgado was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2009, to five months in prison and five months of home detention. JUD, LLC and Santadelg Properties, LLC , which were both limited liability companies established by Sylvia Delgado to launder the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking, were fined $5,000.
In May 2006, federal law enforcement agents began investigating Super Pollo. Suspicious banking activity reports indicated that the restaurant's owners were depositing more money into their business account than the restaurant could earn from legitimate sales. A year-long investigation involved more than 100 officers and utilized several wiretaps, surveillance, undercover drug transactions and an examination of personal and business tax returns. Law enforcement officers seized approximately $1 million and lodged claims on 11 properties in Kansas City and central Missouri with a value of approximately $700,000.
On Feb. 9, 2009, Juan Delgado was convicted at trial of participating in a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine from June 11, 2002, through April 11, 2007, as well as four counts of distributing cocaine and four counts of money laundering.
Juan and Sylvia Delgado were also convicted at trial of participating in a money laundering conspiracy related to financial transactions involving drug-trafficking proceeds. The Delgados were also found guilty of one count of aiding and abetting each other to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking through the transfer of real estate in Kansas City from a co-defendant to Santadelg Properties . That transfer was made to reimburse their supplier for $71,895 in illegal drug proceeds that had been seized by law enforcement officers from co-defendant Cruz Santa-Anna , also known as “Nene,” 28, of Kansas City.
Omar Villareal , also known as “Shaggy,” 33, and Luis Morgan , 42, both of Kansas City, Mo., were also convicted at trial of participating in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Villareal was sentenced on Aug. 27, 2009, to 17 years and six months in federal prison without parole. Morgan was sentenced on June 25, 2009, to 11 years and three months in federal prison without parole.
Six co-defendants have been sentenced after pleading guilty. Santa-Anna and Raymond Sparks , 38, both of Kansas City, were each sentenced on March 12, 2009, to seven years in federal prison without parole. Jose Estrada , 45, a citizen of Mexico residing in Merriam, Kan., was sentenced on Nov. 13, 2008, to 17 years and six months in federal prison without parole. Julian Araiza , 33, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced on March 12, 2009, to three years and one month in federal prison without parole. Jose Canales , 55, of Burleson, Texas, was sentenced on March 12, 2009, to two years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Ricardo Ruiz , also known as “The Rabbit” and “Conejo,” 34, also a co-owner of Super Pollo restaurant, was sentenced on Nov. 13, 2008, to 21 months in federal prison without parole.
Fernando Chavez , also known as “Mr. Magoo,” “Old Boy” and “Nando,” 37, Carlos Hernandez , 45, and Jose Ortega-Gallegos , 40, are all citizens of Mexico and remain fugitives from justice.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jane Pansing Brown and Gregg R. Coonrod. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Jackson County Drug Task Force and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.
Arrests Made in Cocaine and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracies
DEC 10 -- LUBBOCK , Texas — Seven defendants, named in two indictments returned by a federal grand jury in Lubbock, Texas last month and unsealed today, were arrested today by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. The indictments charge a total of 10 defendants with cocaine/methamphetamine trafficking and some with various substantive drug and/or firearm charges. One defendant charged is already in state custody; two remain fugitives. Additionally, law enforcement officers executed several search warrants at various locations today which resulted in the seizure of additional quantities of cocaine, drug trafficking paraphernalia, firearms, and U.S. currency.
U.S. Attorney Jacks said, “These Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) indictments and arrests are the result of an excellent, well-coordinated, multi-agency law enforcement investigation and effort that included the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Public Safety, the Lubbock Police Department, the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office, and the Lamb County Sheriff's Office. This operation illustrates the cohesive nature of federal, state, and local law enforcement in West Texas and their ability to obtain outstanding results through that cooperation.”
“The arrests and seizures made today will significantly impact and disrupt this large scale methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking organization,” said James L. Capra, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division's Drug Enforcement Administration. “Illegal drugs are an equal opportunity destroyer; they harm individuals, their families and our communities. We are committed to ensuring that our Lubbock neighborhoods remain safe and that those drug traffickers who threaten these communities are brought to justice.”
In one indictment, Lubbock residents, Davey Roland Burks, Jr., 37, and Ricky Reyes, 35,are each charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Burks is charged with two counts and Reyes is charged with one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Reyes is also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack cocaine). Reyes was arrested this morning; Burks remains a fugitive.
Defendants named in the second indictment include:
· Rolando Garcia Carrasco, 56, of Abernathy, Texas
· Juan Manuel Carrasco, 55, Olton, Texas
· Rene Zuniga, 47, of Lubbock (fugitive)
· Feliciano Hernandez, Jr., 57, Lubbock
· Reynaldo Zavala , 47, Lubbock
· Ricky Hernandez, 37, Lubbock (in state custody)
· Carlos Puente, 38, Lubbock
· Johnny Joe Carrasco, 35, of Abernathy, Texas
The second indictment charges all defendants with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of cocaine, alleging that the defendants ran their conspiracy since January 2006. All of the defendants are charged with various substantive cocaine and/or methamphetamine counts and defendant Rene Zuniga is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. This indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which, upon conviction, would require defendants to forfeit approximately $500,000, numerous vehicles, firearms and several pieces of real estate.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. However, if convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a fine of several million dollars.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ann Cruce-Roberts and Jeffrey R. Haag of the Lubbock, Texas, U.S. Attorney's Office.
16 Arrested in Joint Federal-State Drug Investigation in Fitchburg
DEC 10 -- BOSTON, MA - Eight individuals were arrested today on federal indictments charging them with federal gun and drug charges. The arrests coincided with eight additional state arrests for similar state charges, all resulting from a long term joint federal and state investigation into drug trafficking and related gang activities in the City of Fitchburg.
Steven Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Boston Field Office; United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations - Boston Field Division; Glenn N. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Boston Field Office; Joseph D. Early, Jr., Worcester County District Attorney; Chief Robert A. DeMoura of the Fitchburg Police Department; and Colonel Mark Delaney, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police announced today that a total of 16 individuals were arrested as a result of a joint federal and state investigation, dubbed “Operation Northern Kings, which began more than a year ago. The 8 individuals arrested on federal Indictments that had been obtained and sealed in November and December, pending the arrests were identified as:
SAMUEL BERMUDEZ, 24 , was charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine Base and other crimes. He faces up to 40 years' incarceration, supervised release for life and a fine of up to $2,000,000;
ANGEL ROMAN, 24, was charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine Base and other crimes. He faces up to 40 years' incarceration, supervised release for life and a fine of up to $2,000,000;
BRIAN CHANTHACHACK, 24 , was charged with being a felon unlawfully in possession of a handgun. He faces up to 10 years' incarceration, supervised release of up to three years and a fine of up to $250,000;
HECTOR AULET, 32, was indicted for selling cocaine base and heroin. He faces up to 40 years' imprisonment, supervised release for life and a fine of up to $2,000,000;
ALBERT MEIER , 20, was indicted for selling cocaine base. He faces up to 40 years' imprisonment, supervised release for life and a fine of up to $2,000,000;
ANGEL MOLINA, 25, was indicted for selling cocaine base. He faces up to 40 years imprisonment, supervised release for life and a fine of up to $2,000,000;
ERIS PAULA-MARIA , 20, was indicted for selling cocaine base. PAULA-MARIA faces up to life imprisonment, supervised release for life and a fine of up to $4,000,000;
MIGUEL TORRES, 23, was indicted for selling heroin and cocaine base. He faces up to 40 years' imprisonment, supervised release for life and a fine of up to $2,000,000;
The 8 individuals arrested on state Indictments were identified as:
LUIS MARTINEZ , age 23, of Fitchburg was charged with Trafficking Heroin 14 to 28 grams, Conspiracy to Traffic Heroin on May 6, 2009 and Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute in a School Zone in May 2009. He faces up to 20 years' imprisonment;
SANDRA MARTINEZ , 30, of Fitchburg was charged with Trafficking Heroin 14 to 28 grams and Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute in a School Zone in July 2009. She faces up to 20 years' imprisonment;
VICTOR ANDINO , 23, of Fitchburg was charged with Distribution of Cocaine in April 2009. He faces up to 10 years' imprisonment;
EPHRAIM ROJAS , 24, of Fitchburg was charged with Distribution of a Counterfeit Substance and Conspiracy to Distribute a Counterfeit Substance, Distribution of a Counterfeit Substance and Distribution of Cocaine 2nd Offense in September 2009. He faces up to 10 years imprisonment;
ROBERT BRUNO , 20, of Leominster was charged with Distribution of a Counterfeit Substance and Conspiracy to Distribute a Counterfeit Substance in September 2009. He faces up to 1 year imprisonment;
HARVEY GROUT , 20, of Fitchburg was charged with Trafficking Cocaine 14 to 28 grams, Possession of with Intent to Distribute in a School Zone and Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine in March 2009. He faces up to 20 years' imprisonment;
AVIN GARCIA , age 25, of Fitchburg was charged with Trafficking Heroin 14 to 28 grams, Conspiracy to Traffic Heroin and Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute in a School Zone in May 2009. He faces up to 20 years' imprisonment;
JOSE QUINONES , 20, of Fitchburg was charged with Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine on April 7, 2009. He faces up to 20 years' imprisonment.
According to the federal Affidavit filed today, a number of the defendants are members or associates of street gangs operating in the City of Fitchburg, including the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation and the Bloods. It is further alleged in the Affidavit that a number of these defendants have been convicted of crimes of violence and narcotics felonies and face enhanced sentences under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Today's arrests should send a clear message that we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who engages in the illegal use, possession or distribution of guns and drugs in the City of Fitchburg. We will use the full array of federal and state resources at our disposal to accomplish this goal. The law abiding citizens of Fitchburg deserve nothing less, and we will not stand by and let a handful of criminals endanger lives and neighborhoods in this community. I want to commend our federal and state partners for their cooperation and ongoing commitment to our efforts to keep the City of Fitchburg safe.”
“This a great example of law enforcement working together to make Fitchburg a safer community,” said District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. Fitchburg Chief Robert DeMoura said, “Today's enforcement effort confirms the Fitchburg Police Departments commitment to work with the United States Attorney's Office and all of the other agencies involved. We are pleased to announce that plans for 2010 include more enforcement, intervention, and prevention work by our officers and agency partners.” DeMoura continued, “The Fitchburg Police Department knows dealing, distributing, and trafficking illicit drugs rips at the very fiber of our city. Today's operation is the result of hard work and dedication of our officers, and partners at the federal level, and the ongoing collaboration with the Fitchburg Police Department. This type of relationship will continue with other initiatives well under way in our city for years to come.”
“In Fitchburg this morning we arrested alleged traffickers who mistakenly thought that they controlled our streets, but instead they learned that violence and drug trafficking will not be tolerated. DEA and its law enforcement partners will continue to work together to keep streets safe from this type of crime and preserve the rights of citizens who live in those neighborhoods,” said Steven Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Warren Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI said, “The success of this operation emphasizes the significance the FBI places on close cooperation between multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in executing these types of investigations. The professionalism and dedication of all involved will ensure the safety of Fitchburg's neighborhoods and seriously disrupt gang related violent criminal activities in the area.”
“Guns and drugs continue to plague cities across the country,” stated Glenn N. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms, “We will continue to partner with our local state and federal partners to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
The cases are part of an OCDETF joint investigation lead by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration through the DEA's Central Massachusetts HIDTA Task Force, which is staffed by members from the DEA, FBI, United States Postal Inspection Service, Massachusetts State Police, Worcester Police Department, Webster Police Department, Clinton Police Department, Massachusetts National Guard and the Fitchburg Police Department's Drug Suppression Unit.
From the ATF
ATF , Palm Springs Police Investigation Targets Entrenched Local Gang
17 members or associates of Gateway Posse Crips arrested on federal and state charges
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ( ATF ) and the Palm Springs Police Department ( PSPD ) today announced the arrest of 17 suspects in “Operation Gatekeeper Heat,” an investigation targeting members and associates of the Gateway Posse Crips in the city of Palms Springs and surrounding areas of the Coachella Valley.
On Dec. 9, 2009, a federal grand jury in Riverside returned indictments charging two individuals with distribution of crack cocaine and a third with felon in possession of a firearm. Two other individuals were named in federal arrest warrants for distribution of crack cocaine and methamphetamine. Additionally, 13 suspects were named in state arrest warrants for drug possession and drug sales.
In April, ATF and PSPD joined forces in an effort to disrupt and dismantle the Gateway Posse organization. Palm Springs Police traced the Gateway Posse Crips from the beginning to the mid-1980s. The gang claims turf in the north end of the city and named itself after Gateway Drive, in the Desert Highlands/Gateway area of the city. The gang has since spread with its members living in many neighboring desert communities and cities. Its members have been known to actively engage in drug trafficking, robbery and violent assaults. Throughout this investigation undercover operatives were utilized to purchase firearms and drugs from suspected Gateway Posse members and associates.
Today's arrests and enforcement operation conclude a successful and collaborative investigation by Palm Springs Police and ATF into a violent criminal gang, said John A. Torres, special agent in charge of ATF in Southern California. ATF has a strong history of working in partnership with local law enforcement targeting the most violent offenders, and we will continue to dedicate additional resources to neighborhoods here in the Coachella Valley.
The Palm Springs Police Department, in collaboration with the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Cathedral City Police Department have conducted an ongoing investigation resulting in the arrest of multiple persons and the seizure of narcotics and weapons, said David G. Dominguez, chief, Palm Springs Police Department. This is believed to have been the first investigation of this magnitude involving ATF and the illegal sales of firearms in the Coachella Valley. The commitment and partnership between the involved agencies with the Federal Bureau of Investigation has produced results which exceeded our expectations, added Dominguez. On behalf of the citizens of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to ATF and all those involved in this operation for their hard work and dedication. We will continue to take aggressive enforcement action to ensure our communities remain safe.
Arrested today on federal charges are:
- Raymond Smith, 39 of Palm Springs
- Steven Ammerson, 29 of Banning
- Janisa Neal, 31, of Banning
Outstanding federal suspects are:
- Zachary Clayton, 38, of Palm Springs
- Dominick Winzer, 25, of Palm Springs
Arrested today on state charges are:
- Rick Davis, 48, of Palm Springs
- Deiter Crawford, 26, of Palm Springs
- Lavareck Ware, 33, of Palm Springs
- Derrick Pine, 30, of Palm Springs
- Russell Manning, 20, of Palm Springs
- Michael Williams, 344, of Palm Springs
- Devin Session, 19, of Palm Springs
- Brandon Fenton, 25, of Palm Springs
- Eugene Booty, 41, of Palm Springs
- Gary Clayton, 52, of Palm Springs
- Roshad Davis, 21, of Cathedral City
- Altonia Jackson, 34, of Palm Springs
- Danny McPeters, 52, of Palm Springs
- Margaret Phillips, 48 of Palm Springs
Outstanding state suspects are:
- Dimitri Allen, 32, of Palm Springs
- Tommy Roberts, 47, of Palm Springs
- Jahrod Shelton, 30, of Cathedral City
- Martel Wash, 26, of Palm Springs
ATF and PSPD seized and/or purchased more than 35 firearms and large quantities of crack cocaine and methamphetamine throughout Operation Gatekeeper Heat.
Substantial assistance and support was provided by the following agencies during both the investigation and today's enforcement operations: Cathedral City PD , FBI , ARCNTF , Palm Springs Narcotic Taskforce, Coachella Valley Narcotics Task Force, Indio PD , Hemet PD , Coachella Valley Gang Task Force, Riverside County DA 's Investigators, Banning Beaumont Gang Task Force, Desert Hot Springs PD .
More information on ATF and its programs is at www.atf.gov .