Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mexican Drug Gang Suspects Rounded Up after shooting

ICE can do it if they want to

Federal, state and local authorities across the country are sending an unequivocal message to Mexican drug cartel members in the U.S. and Latin America: If you kill a U.S. agent, there will be repercussions. "This is personal," Louie Garcia, deputy special agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Thursday as authorities arrested more than 500 people in a nationwide sweep. "We lost an agent, we lost a good agent. And we have to respond."

The massive search for people connected to any Mexican drug cartel working in the United States began Wednesday night as a direct response to the Feb. 15 killing of ICE agent Jaime Zapata in a roadside ambush in Mexico. Fellow ICE agent Victor Avila was wounded in the attack.

As part of the effort coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and ICE, authorities seized at least $10 million in cash and confiscated millions of dollars' worth of illegal drugs. Authorities in Brazil, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia and Mexico conducted similar sweeps in concert with U.S. authorities.

By late Thursday afternoon police and federal agents around the U.S. had seized nearly 300 weapons and more than 16 tons of marijuana along with other drugs. The sweep was expected to continue through Friday.

In the Newark, N.J., area, authorities on Wednesday arrested at least one person with ties to Mexico's ruthless Zetas drug gang — the same gang believed responsible for the deadly attack on Zapata and Avila — and seized about $1 million they believe was bound for cartel bosses in Mexico. Former Mexican special forces soldiers are among the Zetas' members

During a traffic stop north of Los Angeles late Wednesday police arrested one man and seized $2 million in cash along with 86 kilos of cocaine, drugs worth millions of dollars on the street.

In operations in South Texas on Thursday, authorities recovered hand grenades, assault rifles and bulletproof vests.

An officer involved in a raid in Houston was shot and wounded Thursday, though the injury was not life-threatening. The shooting occurred during a raid by agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Houston police. The suspected gunman was also shot and wounded and was in custody, police said.

Nationwide roundups of suspected cartel associates are nothing new. More than half a dozen such sweeps have been touted as blows to major Mexican drug gangs in the last 2 ½ years. But an Associated Press review of those operations showed the arrests have done little to slow the drug trade.

Zapata was killed and Avila was wounded in Mexico on Feb. 15 when the Chevy Suburban they were in was run off the road by at least two vehicles loaded with armed men. Authorities have said the agents, who were driving in a fortified vehicle with diplomatic license plates, identified themselves as U.S. diplomats in the moments before the shooting.

Mexican authorities have arrested three people in connection with the brazen attack.

"We are basically going out to disrupt narcotics distribution here in the United States no matter what cartel their allegiance is to," said Carl Pike, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA's special operations division. "It would be futile to send a message back to one cartel when they all are just as guilty."

Pike said that while the sweeps are a direct response to Zapata's killing, the majority of suspects were already targets of other investigations.

"People actually sacrificed a great deal of work" for these sweeps, Pike said. "For the lost agent's memory it's important, but we're also in a bully situation. If we don't push back, some other 18-year-old cartel member is going to think, 'They didn't do anything, so all U.S. citizens are fair game.'"


Record rise in immigration to Britain as 240,000 given right to stay in just one year

Labour's ‘shambolic’ stewardship of the immigration system was exposed last night by figures showing that almost a quarter of a million migrants were handed the right to stay in Britain last year.

Grants of settlement, which are one step short of a passport, rose 35 per cent to 238,950 in the year to September 2010 – the highest since records began in 1960.

The total includes tens of thousands given full access to Britain’s public services because of the catastrophic failure to deal with their asylum cases swiftly.

Official figures also showed migration added 226,000 to the country’s population in 2010. This net migration figure – the number of arrivals minus those departing – is more than double the level that would be needed if ministers are to fulfil their pledge to reduce the annual net total to ‘tens of thousands’ by 2015.

Among the arrivals were spiralling numbers of students. Study visas issued in Labour’s last year were up by 41 per cent. The Office for National Statistics stated: ‘Long-term immigration to the UK for formal study has trebled over the last decade.’

The backlog of more than 400,000 asylum cases was uncovered more than five years ago and only now are many finally being resolved. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch think-tank, said the settlement figures were ‘appalling’.

‘This is what Labour called “managed migration”. It would be hard to imagine a more shambolic inheritance,’ he said.

‘Around one in three of those granted settlement were failed asylum seekers who had been hanging around so long that they acquired a human rights case to stay.’

The ONS confirmed that the foreign-born population rose by 3.2million during Labour’s 13 years in power, as reported in the Mail this week.

Sir Andrew said: ‘These figures are Labour’s legacy to Britain – 3.2million immigrants, including a quarter of a million in their last year alone.

‘Over half a million students in one year with no interviews before arrival and no checks on departure, and a “points-based system” that has increased immigration, not reduced it.’

Immigration Minister Damian Green said that the figures reinforced the need for radical reforms of the immigration system.


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