Archive for October, 2011

Feds And Arizona Law Enforcement Officials Arrested 76 Suspects For Billion Dollar Drug Trafficking Operation

Sinaloa cartel suspects smuggled more than $33 million worth of drugs into the U.S. per month.

By H. Nelson Goodson
October 31, 2011

Phoenix, Arizona – On Monday during a press conference, Aizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced that federal and county law enforcement officials, including the state attorney general’s office were able to arrest about 76 suspects connected to the Sinaloa Cartel. Some of the suspects are Mexican nationals and others are U.S. citizens. A 17-month investigation led authorities to a criminal organization that smuggled more than $33 million of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin into the U.S. through Arizona.
In a news release, officials say the ring, organized around cells based in the Arizona communities of Chandler, Stanfield and Maricopa, used backpackers and vehicles to move loads of marijuana and other drugs from the Arizona-Mexico border to a network of “stash” houses in the Phoenix area. After arriving in Phoenix, the contraband, which also included cocaine and heroin, was sold to distributors from multiple states nationwide.
Monday’s announcement comes just four days after federal and local investigators executed the third in a succession of large-scale enforcement actions tied to the probe, taking another 22 defendants into custody. To date, 76 individuals have been criminally arrested in connection with “Operation Pipeline Express,” ranging from organizational “bosses” to stash house guards and load drivers.
During last week’s warranted searches, authorities seized more than two tons of marijuana, 19 weapons – including assault rifles, handguns, and shotguns – and nearly $200,000 in cash.
Prior to last week’s takedown, authorities had conducted two other major enforcement actions in connection with “Operation Pipeline Express.” Earlier this month, agents executed a dozen search warrants throughout central and southern Arizona, including in the communities of Casa Grande and Stanfield, taking custody of 17 primary case targets. In mid-September, the initial enforcement action in the investigation resulted in the arrest of six suspects on state drug and conspiracy charges.
Intelligence gathered as part of “Operation Pipeline Express” indicates the organization is tied to Mexico’s Sinaloan cartel and has been in existence for at least the last five years. During that timeframe, authorities conservatively estimate the ring has smuggled more than 3.3 million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into to the United States, generating almost $2 billion in illicit proceeds, accoring to the news release.
The agencies overseeing the 17-month investigation, includes the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

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Photos: ICE

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Undocumented Marquette Student Selected As Board Chair Of Voces de la Frontera In Wisconsin

New undocumented chairperson of Voces de la Frontera introduced during the 10th Anniversary Gala at Potawatomi Casino.

By H. Nelson Goodson
October 30, 2011

Milwaukee – Last Thursday, in a bold and unprecedented move Voces de la Frontera (VDLF) introduced their first undocumented Marquette student Maricela Aguilar, 20, as their President of the Board during the 10th Anniversary Gala. Aguilar who is a senior at Marquette University told the hundreds of atendees that she “is undocumented and unafraid to admit it,” which makes her the first chairperson illegally in the country to lead a non-profit, workers right and immigrant rights organization in the country. Aguilar said, that she is learning the process of the board and is very happy to have been selected as President of the Board. She replaced former Chairman, Primitivo Torres several months ago.
Aguilar, a dreamer and a member of the Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) from VDLF has been instrumental in leading the Dreamer campaign to help push the passage of the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act national movement helped undocumented students throughout the nation to learn, recognize, and encouraged them to fight for their civil and constitutional rights bestowed under the U.S. Constitution, despite their illegal immigration status, which is only a federal civil offense and not a federal felony offense.
Aguilar made her undocumented status public several years ago, despite threats by the Obama administration push deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants, even if they were students.
VDLF is recognized in Wisconsin for their annual May 1st march for immigrant rights and gained national recognition for their March 23, 2006 massive march, a “Day Without Latinos” that drew an estimated 30,000 march participants to help defeat U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI) HR 4437, which would have criminalized anyone who helped an illegal immigrant. HR 4437 failed to pass in Congress.
Another group that was targeted by the Obama administration were the bread winners of families. Many bread winners (fathers or mothers) were taken into custody and their families suffered. The effect of those detentions and removals, Hispanic families and their children endured poverty conditions compared to counter parts of Black, White and other children in the U.S.
Last Summer on June 17, John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent out a discretionary memo to all ICE field office directors, special agents in charge and all chief counsel. The memo stated, that they may use or exercise prosecutorial discretion dealing with the apprehension, detention and removal of illegal immigrants. Their discretion should be limited or forego deportation proceedings against non-felony illegal immigrant offenders, students who were brought by parents to the U.S. when they were children and older illegal immigrants who had lived in the country for numerous years.
Instead, ICE and the Obama administration has focused on prosecuting those illegal immigrants who have been deported, but had decided to returned to the U.S. illegally once more, which federal prosecutions increased by 42 percent within the first two years, since President Barack H. Obama took office. The federal prison system reported an increase of incarcerations of illegal Hispanic convicted felons for returning to the U.S. after they were deported.
Within the last few years, a growing majority of federal inmates have been undocumented Latinos. The massive Hispanic prosecutions are contributed to Operation Cross Check, which targets repeated border crossing illegal offenders, including suspected illegal gang members, sexual crime offenders, drug related offenders and those who have been arrested for driving under the influence.
Overall, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 396,906 individuals, which is the largest number deported in the agency’s history. Of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals since FY 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence.
ICE hasn’t included a report about the number of at least 300,000 non-criminal immigration removal cases that are pending and under review. A policy enforcement by the Obama administration to review pending non-criminal removal cases has yet to yield estimates of those illegal aliens being granted temperary stays and immigration court hearings.
So far, the Obama administration has deported more than 1 million undocumented immigrants.

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Maricela Aguilar
President of the VDLF Board

Photo by HNG

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Day of the Dead Parade Draws Hundreds Of Participants In The South Side Hispanic Community

Hundreds of people paraded in celebration of the Día de los Muertos.

By H. Nelson Goodson
October 30, 2011

Milwaukee – On Friday, the Milwaukee Mijas sponsored Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead Second Annual Parade in the predominately South side Hispanic community drew nearly 1,000 people. The parade began just after 5:00 p.m. at Walker’s Square Park in the 900 block of W. Washington St. The parade proceeded East on Washington St. and then turned North on S. 5th Street to Walker’s Point Center for the Arts in the 800 block.
Last year, the parade drew about 450 people and this year, the Day of the Dead parade attracted more than double of participants.
The traditional Día de los Muertos also allows time for people to become creative and display or showcase offerings at altars known as ofrendas depicting pictures and items used by loves ones when they were alive and who now have moved on to eternal rest and peace. The displays (ofrendas) can to be seen by the public, family members and friends of the honored dead.
El Dìa de los Muertos is a traditional festival that dates back to pre-Colombian times in the Americas that celebrates the lives of those who have passed and moved on to the afterlife, according to Milwaukee Mijas website. Colorful masks, costumes, dancing and music are a part of the pageantry of this vibrant ancient festival. Milwaukee Mijas celebrates the traditional holiday with a community-based parade and and several displays to honor the dead, which attracts people of all ages from various communities as well. 
The celebration takes place around November 1st and 2nd, especially in Mexico. During the two day remembrance, family members and friends get a chance to once more remember or mourn those who have passed away.

Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos parade on video at following link: http://bit.ly/tiDJuZ

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Photos: HNG

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Juarez-Santamaria, Leader Of MS-13 Gang Sentenced To Life In Federal Prison For Prostituting A Minor

Minor was given alcohol and marijuana to keep her compliant, according to the criminal complaint.

By H. Nelson Goodson
October 28, 2011

Alexandria, Virginia – On Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a news release reported that Jose Ciro Juarez-Santamaria, 24, was sentenced to life in a federal prison for conspiracy, sex trafficking and transportation of a minor for prostitution. Juarez-Santamaria was convicted on July 28, 2011 for prostituting a 12-year-old female to clients throughout northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
Juarez-Santamaria, a Salvadoran national led a group of MS-13 members. He lured a female minor into the gang by offering her a place to stay and then got her to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana.
Federal court records and evidence at trial showed that Juarez-Santamaria joined the MS-13 while in El Salvador. He was a member of the Pinos Locos clique of MS-13 and known by the gang as “Sniper.” At a Halloween party in Oxon Hill, Md., on Oct. 31, 2009, Juarez-Santamaria met a 12-year-old runaway who asked for his help in finding a place to stay. Instead, Juarez-Santamaria began prostituting the victim throughout the Washington D.C.-area the very next day.
The victim was prostituted from October to December 2009, providing sex for money every day of the week. Evidence at trial showed that Juarez-Santamaria generally charged $40 for 15 minutes of sex, but he would sometimes charge more depending on what the customer wanted. The prostitution took place at various businesses, homes, apartments and hotels in and around northern Virginia. Juarez-Santamaria also admitted to having sex with the victim and allowed MS-13 gang members to have sex with her free of charge. To keep the victim compliant, Juarez-Santamaria and others would supply her with alcohol and marijuana.

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Jose Ciro Juarez-Santamaria

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ICE Closed Deportation Case Against Damian-Ortega, An Injured Worker Who Was Turned In By West Bend Mutual Insurance

West Bend Insurance turned undocumented worker to police and ICE so, they wouldn’t pay compensation insurance.

By H. Nelson Goodson
October 28, 2011

Milwaukee – On Thursday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials decided to close the deportation case of Omar Damian-Ortega, an injured worker. Damian-Ortega will no longer be facing deportation proceedings, Christine Newmann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera announced during their 10th Anniversary Gala. Damian-Ortega is still facing civil charges of identity theft after West Bend Insurance agents turned him over to police and ICE in an attempt to have him deported without the insurance company paying compensation insurance.
Damian-Ortega said, that he plans to stay in Wisconsin and seek workers compensation against West Bend Insurance, through legal action.
Voces de la Frontera (VDLF) in a prior news release stated that in 2009, Damian-Ortega injured his back at work. He then filed a worker’s compensation claim, which Wisconsin State Law says are due to all injured workers, regardless of worker’s immigration status. Upon doing so, West Bend Mutual Insurance notified the Grafton Police Department of a potential case of identity theft. Damian-Ortega who is married and has 3 children, was then arrested by the Grafton Police Department and subsequently placed into immigration deportation proceedings after spending five months in jail.
VDLF learned that it was West Bend Mutual Insurance’s policy to report undocumented workers to the police so, that they can avoid paying workers the thousands of dollars in claims that they are due by law.

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Photo by VIMEO: Omar Damian-Ortega while detained

Omar Damian-Ortega

Photo: VDLF

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Gonzalez Found Guilty For Reckless Homicide and Injury

Gonzalez bail revoked and will remain in custody until sentencing on November 18.

By H. Nelson Goodson
October 28, 2011

Milwaukee – On Thursday, a jury found Jesus Gonzalez, 24, guilty on lesser felony charges. He was convicted for first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree reckless injury for the May 8, 2010 homicide of Danny John, 29, and shooting of his nephew, Jered Corn, 22, at the 3300 block of W. National Ave. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Richard Sankovitz ordered Gonzalez held in custody after the verdicts were read until his sentencing date on November 18. Judge Sankovitz also decided to revoked Gonzalez $100,000 bail without forfeiture, the cash bail will be returned to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is facing up to 40 years in prison for the reckless homicide and up to 15 years for the reckless injury count.
Both John and Corn were drinking all day and had just left Mamie’s tavern on W. National Ave. and S. Shea Ave. when an apparent altercation occured. John was driving his Honda Accord out of Mamie’s tavern when Gonzalez fired his weapon at least seven shots hitting John four times and striking Corn in the neck paralyzing him for life.
Gonzalez didn’t elaborate further on what actually happened for him to shoot both John and Corn. Corn during trial said, he was walking to a friend’s house when Gonzalez approached him and told him to back up. Corn then woke up later and noticed his legs wouldn’t move, couldn’t get up and he was bleeding from the neck. John died at the scene inside his car.
Gonzalez called 911 and told the operator that he came out to moved his car and several men had tried to assault him and that he shot both of them. Gonzalez carried a weapon with him all the time, since he was first robbed.
Gonzalez had filed a lawsuit against several police departments after he was arrested for carrying an unconceal weapon at a store. He wasn’t charged, but Gonzalez sued.

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Jesus Gonzalez

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Federal Lawsuit To Be File Against The Wisconsin State Legislature On Latino Redistricting Cuts

Voces de la Frontera and plaintiffs seeking to boost Hispanic voting age citizens in the 8th Assembly District by 52 percent.

By H. Nelson Goodson
October 27, 2011

Milwaukee – On Thursday, Attorney Peter G. Earle confirmed that he plans to file a federal lawsuit against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. The lawsuit claims, that the Wisconsin Republican controlled legislature passed a redistricting map which deprives the Hispanic community in Milwaukee’s South side of an effective voting majority in the 8th Assembly District.
The Republican controlled state legislature and Governor Scott Walker (R) approved a redistricting map that cuts 8 percent of Latino voting age citizens in the 8th Assembly District. The plaintiffs include Voces de la Frontera, a non-profit organization, workers right and an immigrant rights advocate, two members of the Mexican-American community and two members from the Puerto Rican community as well. They are Ramiro Vega, Olga Vega, Jose Perez and Erica Ramirez, according to Attorney Earle.
The defendants named in the lawsuit includes members of the Government Accountability Board, Gerald Nichol, Thomas Cane, Thomas Barland, Timothy Vocke and Kevin Kennedy.
The plaintiffs claim, that the Republican controlled legislature passed a statewide redistricting plan, which cuts about 8 percent of Hispanic voting age citizens (HVAC) from the current 48 percent of HVAC in the Milwaukee South side district reducing it to a mere 40 percent. The plaintiffs will seek for the federal court to increase the HVAC in the 8th District to 52 percent, making a Latino majority district in 2012. They will also seek an injunction and to consolidate their lawsuit along with several other federal cases already filed by Democrats concerning redistricting.

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Attorney Peter Earle

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