Mexico's Drug Cartel Violence is This...

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#208 Mar 6, 2010
Woman Says Mexican Violence Forces Her To Be In Doors Before Dark

Reported by: Camaron Abundes

NUEVO PROGRESO, MEXICO - The mother says she lives in Mexico to keep her family together.

She says her choice to be in Nuevo Progreso means run-ins with cartel members trying to control the smuggling trade.

"This truck came out of no where. It was driving really fast and really close to me. When I called home and I called my husband to come outside all of a sudden I just saw a bunch of guys running foward," she says.

She says as long as she's home before sunset she feels safe.

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#209 Mar 6, 2010
Red Cross is latest victim of Mexican drug war

By Mark Stevenson
The Associated Press
Posted: 03/05/2010

MEXICO CITY-Red Cross clinics in some parts of Mexico are refusing to treat people wounded by gunshots after finding themselves caught in the drug war, with cartel hit men intercepting ambulances to seize patients and even killing a Red Cross worker this week.
Miguel Angel Valdez, director of operations for the Red Cross in the Gulf coast city of Tampico, said he implemented the policy after gunmen this week forced an ambulance over at gunpoint just two blocks from a Red Cross clinic and dragged off a man wounded in a gun battle.

"We have made the decision at the (local) Red Cross not to accept patients from prisons or wounded in armed clashes, because that puts the safety of our personnel at risk," he said.

In drug-plagued Sinaloa state on the Pacific coast, police started escorting ambulances and guarding Red Cross clinics after a Red Cross dispatcher was killed Sunday in crossfire by assailants who followed a wounded man to a clinic to finish him off.

Maria Genoveva Rogers is believed to be the first Red Cross worker killed since President Felipe Calderon launched his drug war in 2006.

Hundreds of emergency personnel, medical technicians and ambulance crews took to the streets in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan, some holding a banner that read "Service Suspended ... We Demand Safety" as ambulances accompanying the march blared their sirens.

"We are just calling on everyone to respect the symbol of the Red Cross, but there has been a loss of values," said the state's Red Cross director, Arnoldo Montano. "It is like people have forgotten what the Red Cross is."
Culiacan's Red Cross clinics closed for two days following Rogers' death. And in the violent city of Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, doctors and other personnel at two government-run clinics stayed off the job Tuesday to protest gunmen barging into emergency rooms to either rescue wounded comrades or execute rivals.

Gangs have also targeted doctors for extortion.

"We are one of the sectors that has been most affected by the situation of violence," said Dr. Leticia Chavarria Villa, president of the Medical-Civic Committee, a nonprofit group founded in the wake of the wave of violence that has swept the city.

Some doctors now refuse to admit patients at private clinics after 6 p.m., or they see only people who have been referred to them by their other patients, she said.

Amid the drug violence that has killed more than 17,900 people in Mexico in a little more than three years, even the criminals seemed to respect the Red Cross, an organization known for treating everyone-regardless of gang allegiance, criminal or social status, said Valdez, the Red Cross director in Tampico.

"But suddenly, these rules are being broken," he added.

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#210 Mar 6, 2010
Toddler dies days after killing of infant in Juárez

By Marisela Ortega Lozano
El Paso Times
Posted: 03/05/2010

JUAREZ - A toddler wounded in the head several days ago during the murder of a man and his infant son died this morning at a hospital, authorities said.
The victim, 1-year-old Carlos Isaac López Valentín, died at the Seguro Social clinic in Juárez. He was shot in the head Sunday, when gunmen assaulted a horseman, Ricardo Beltrán Flores, 39, and his 17-month-old son, Alfredo Beltrán Cervantes, who was shot in the stomach and in the back, police said.

Another unidentified man was wounded and taken to a hospital. The execution took place at a horse racetrack known as Carril Siete Leguas in the Kilómetro 29 vicinity.

Authorities said they recovered 42 bullet casings.

On Wednesday a 9-month-old baby girl was wounded in the head when five gunmen shot her mother to death.

Magaly Bernal, 24, and her child were passengers in a car driven by her husband when the suspects, one of them a juvenile, opened fire against the family.

The woman died at the scene, and the toddler was rushed to a hospital.

Police said they captured the alleged shooters at a nearby clinic.

The man was able to shoot back at the attackers and wounded one of them, a 17-year-old, authorities said.

Also on Wednesday six men were shot to death in the Valle de Juárez area across from Fabens, Texas.

With more than 2,640 killings reported during 2009, Juárez is one of the most deadly cities in the world.

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#211 Mar 6, 2010
Uncovering strange ways drug smugglers hide their stash

by Dan Neligh
March 5, 2010

PHOENIX - Septic tanks, computer boxes and tires -- each year, drug smugglers get more inventive with places to hide their cargo.

Officer Harold Sanders, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety who was once in charge of his department's Drug Recognition Expert Training program, said criminals will stash drugs almost anywhere in an attempt to hide them from police.

"Door panels, side panels, inside of tires, dashboard, headliner, under the floorboard, under the carpeting," Sanders said. "Any place that possibly has more than an inch of space between physical parts of the vehicle."

Sanders explained that often, smugglers will try to hide their load in plain sight by disguising it as something else.

"The whole concept is to try to look like a tree in a forest, where you don't stand out of place," Sanders said, explaining how bales of marijuana might be wrapped in burlap to look like regular cargo or how ecstasy tablets could be loaded into breath mint containers.

Sanders also described one incident in which officers found a large container made from what looked like a stack of plywood. The layers had been stacked on top of each other and the center was hollowed out, and one sheet of plywood was placed on the top to hide the load.

Sanders said even the most elaborate methods of concealment can often be easily detected by trained officers.

"They're able to determine just through conversation with the driver, with the passengers that something is going on that's probably indicative of them transporting something illegal," Sanders said, "whether it's weapons, illegal drugs,(or) cash that has been derived from the proceeds of selling illegal items."

At that point, Sanders said, police dogs can help find the exact location of the hidden items.

Sanders also said the real trick to intercepting drug runners was to anticipate the criminals' next move.

"You have to put yourself in the mindset of the smuggler," he said. He later added, "We've got a lot of people thinking,'how has it been done, how is it being done today, and how will it be done tomorrow."

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#212 Mar 6, 2010
Customs officers intercept Mexican cheese

by Dan Neligh
March 5, 2010

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized over 100 pounds of cheese on March 3.

Officials say CBP officers intercepted the "queso fresco," a soft Mexican cheese, as it was being smuggled from Mexico to the U.S. through the Bridge of the Americas port of entry.

A 46-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman were transporting the cheese in a 1996 Dodge Ram van, according to a press release from CBP spokesman Roger Maier.

In the release, CBP Port Director William Molaski said the seizure was "an excellent example of Custom and Border Protection enforcement efforts at our ports of entry in protecting the American public from illegally and unregistered consumer products.”

The cheese was hidden in four false compartments underneath the vehicle's seats. Maier said travelers are allowed to bring in personal quantities of cheese, which usually means no more than 5 kilos. He also said that commercial shipments of cheese had to be cleared by the FDA, and that eating contaminated cheeses could cause illness.

Maier said officers discovered that the driver and passenger of the vehicle had been working illegally in the U.S., and their visas were canceled.

The cheese was confiscated and destroyed.

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#213 Mar 6, 2010
Tijuana cops rob Korean tourist

By Tania Navarro, SDNN
Friday, March 5, 2010

TIJUANA — Four agents of the Tijuana Police Department were apprehended on Thursday, accused of robbery against a Korean tourist.

The victim, Kim Chum Ku, is president of the World Youth Association of Taekwondo and a member of the organizing committee of the TKD World Championship that is currently under way in the city.

The Tijuana Police Department said that the incident occurred Tuesday night. Chum was traveling in a cab through Tijuana’s downtown when two police patrols approached.

Without reason, the cops asked Chum to step out of the vehicle and searched him. One of the agents took Chum’s wallet and stole U.S.$500, 300 euros, and $100 Canadian.

The organizing committee and Tijuana’s local authorities led an investigation that concluded with the apprehension of Rafael Sanchez, Eduardo Romero, Jose Luis Hernandez, and Victor Javier Jove, all of them police agents and identified by the cab’s driver.

The four agents admitted responsibility and were discharged from the police department.

Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos said that his government will not allow corrupt agents and that the four related with this case where taken into custody to be prosecuted.

Baja Attorney General Officer Rommel Moreno said that the four will be charged with violent robbery and association for robbery.

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#214 Mar 7, 2010
Mexico Red Cross workers put lives at risk to save others

by Dennis Wagner
Mar. 7, 2010
The Arizona Republic

Ambulance crews must get close to combat

NOGALES, Sonora - At 6:05 a.m., the emergency call crackles over a scanner in the Mexican Red Cross ambulance station: gunshot victim.

Jose "Cache" Gomez, an ambulance driver with the agency known here as Cruz Roja, is still snoring in an upstairs bunkroom when the dispatcher whistles sharply and shouts, "Servicio!"

Gomez and three bleary-eyed medical workers jump into the ambulance, turn on the sirens and roll through the darkness on the highway just a couple of miles from Arizona's border.

They are heading toward a tough barrio that is familiar territory for cartel violence. They don helmets before swerving eastward into the hills.

No one says a word as Gomez stops next to a ramshackle home where police lights are flashing. The Red Cross workers see a man whose arm is wrapped in a bloody cloth. They strap him to a gurney and roll him into the ambulance. He pushes away paramedics trying to remove his jacket before offering up some kind of explanation for the bullet hole in his forearm: Shot for no reason at all, you see, while just walking along the road.

The ambulance screams away to Nogales General Hospital. In the emergency room, physicians and nurses work on the wound as police armed with machine guns hover nearby.

After treatment, the man sits alone in the ER, glowering at strangers, blood dripping down his tattoo-covered arm onto his feet.

Gomez and his crew return to headquarters as the city awakens. Another mission accomplished. Another gunshot victim rescued.

They gather around a space heater to trade jokes, watch TV and wait for the next shooting, the next call, the next reminder that their town is the leading combat zone in Sonora's escalating drug war.

A sign in Spanish on the wall offers mental-health advice: "To reduce stress, bang your head here."

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#215 Mar 7, 2010
Caring for the drug war victims: Juárez physician helps when others refuse

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times
Posted: 03/07/2010

JUAREZ -- Dr. Arturo Valenzuela Zorrilla fills a void left by two years of violence committed by warring drug cartels.

The secretary of the surgery specialist summons him one day to the General Hospital in the deadliest city in Mexico. Gunmen had hit a man with three bullets, one to the neck and two to the torso.

"It happens every day," Valenzuela Zorrilla said.

Many times a day, actually.

More than 4,600 people have been murdered in Juárez since January 2008. Many more have been wounded. Health care is under siege.

Valenzuela Zorrilla is one of the few doctors who take phone calls or drive to hospitals late at night to try to save victims of attacks. Many hospitals now turn down patients with bullet wounds because, in some cases, hit men followed them all the way to the operating rooms to finish the job.

Clinics have closed after assaults and extortions have left owners with empty pockets. Doctors have closed their offices for fear of extortions and kidnappings.

"The medical profession is a very sensitive one," Valenzuela Zorrilla said. "We are in the epicenter of the situation."

From his office window, Valenzuela Zorrilla can see El Paso's Downtown buildings and the Franklin Mountains. In the same office, he takes calls from fellow doctors who go to him for advice on how to deal with extortions and kidnappings.

Valenzuela Zorrilla leads the local doctors' committee, which meets to discuss ways to protect its members from organized crime. Recently, Valenzuela Zorrilla organized a workshop for doctors on tactics for negotiating ransoms. He carries a cell phone provided by the committee to take calls from people with questions about public safety.

"People don't know how to confront kidnappings, how to negotiate kidnappings. They panic," he said.

Then he talks about capitulating to the kidnappers to save a life by paying ransom.

"For instance, you can get it down to 10 percent of the first sum demanded," Valenzuela Zorrilla said.

He was the first person to publicly speak to Mexican President Felipe Calderón when he visited Juárez last month. Valenzuela Zorrilla criticized Calderón's use of the military to help police Juárez, and what he considered a belated response to the violence. Valenzuela Zorrilla also said the government needs a strategy to solve extortions and kidnappings.

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#216 Mar 7, 2010
Juárez woman held as alleged kidnapper

By Chris Roberts
El Paso Times
Posted: 03/06/2010

EL PASO -- A Juárez woman who allegedly participated in the kidnapping of 15 people, including a customs agent's wife and a dentist, has been arrested by Mexican authorities.

Soledad Aldana Rodri guez, known as "La Chole," allegedly was part of a kidnapping ring headed by René Romeo Ruiseco Salinas, known as "El Doctor."

Rodriguez was arrested Friday, according to Chihuahua state attorney general's staff. Her duties included renting six houses where victims were held, bringing them food, and guarding them until bribes were delivered, authorities said. The houses were in neighborhoods spread throughout the city.

Other kidnapping victims included two grocery store owners, the brother of a wo man who owns a laundromat, the wife of a store owner who sells floor coverings, the relative of a doctor, and the cousin of a store owner who sells paintings in Chihuahua City.

The victims were 10 men and five women.

Two of the alleged kidnappings occurred in February. The rest were in 2009.

Ruiseco Salinas remains a fugitive. Police are also looking for at least seven other people they think were involved in the ring, including Rodriguez's sister, son and nephew.

Rodriguez allegedly was introduced to Ruiseco Salinas through her son's girlfriend in late 2008, when he prescribed medicine for her sick daughter. About a month later, she was invited to join the kidnapping ring, officials said.

Rodriguez, according to authorities, said Ruiseco Salinas participated in all 15 kidnappings.
Last weekend, five other alleged members of the ring, including an El Pasoan, were arrested.

Doctors and other professionals have been targeted by kidnapping rings in Juá rez since 2008, when a war between two drug cartels erupted.

An estimated 200 doctors' offices and seven clinics have closed.

Some doctors, trying to protect themselves, reportedly vary their schedules and take different routes between home and work.

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#217 Mar 7, 2010
Maquilas dodge THE VIOLENCE: Juárez plants hurt more by recession than drug violence

By Vic Kolenc
El Paso Times
Posted: 03/07/2010

EL PASO -- The drug war in Juárez has prompted an estimated 10,000 small businesses to close or move across the border to Texas. But it has not slowed Juárez's biggest economic engine -- the maquiladoras, or manufacturing plants, largely operated by international corporations.

"The economy has had much more effect (on the maquila industry) than any of the violence," said K. Alan Russell, co-founder and president of The Tecma Group, an El Paso company that operates 17 Juárez maquilas with 3,000 employees.

"I'm not saying our industry ignores the problem. That's not a smart thing to do," Russell said. "It has an effect on the way we conduct ourselves, but not on the economics of our business.

"Our clients have plants in other parts of the world with political unrest and other challenges. As long as the executives and work force are safe, business takes its own road."

Xóchitl Díaz, a spokeswoman for Delphi Automotive, one of Juárez's largest maquila operators with 12 plants and a technical center employing about 15,000 people, said production at the plants had not returned to 2008 levels. That was because of the recession and decreased auto sales, she said, and not because of the violence.

The violence has made "people more careful and smarter about how they come to work," and it is a constant topic of conversation among the workers, Díaz said. She said it had not hurt production or increased worker absenteeism.

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#218 Mar 7, 2010
Woman Busted with Marijuana in Laredo

Border Patrol officials arrested a Laredoan that carried 135.5 kilos of marijuana.
Saturday, March 6, 2010

LAREDO, Tx.-Border Patrol agents detained a woman in a Ford Expedition that transported 135.5 kilos of marijuana. The Laredoan was sent to the county jail on federal charges of drug possession.

According to reports, this woman circulated on highway 83 south of Laredo when authorities detected her arrival to a rest stop area. Migratory agents observed as several subjects carried some packages to the truck.

Federal officials drew near with the intention of inspecting the vehicle and soon found four packages in the back part of the truck with a total of 135 kilos of marijuana.

The drug has a street value of 220,000 dollars. DEA agents continue investigating this case.

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#219 Mar 8, 2010
Ambush kills 2 Mexican federal police, wounds 3

MORELIA, Mexico (AP)— Heavily armed gunmen ambushed a convoy of federal police on a highway in one of Mexico’s drug battleground states Friday night, killing two officers and wounding three, officials said.

The unknown attackers hid on both sides of the road near the port city of Lazaro Cardenas and opened fire with a barrage of bullets when the convoy passed, Michoacan state prosecutors said.

The state, which is the base for La Familia cartel, has seen increasing fights among rival gangs and attacks on authorities involved in the anti-drug war.

Also Friday, military officials said soldiers seized 28,000 pounds of marijuana, seven vehicles and 18 high-powered weapons in Altar, Sonora, 35 miles south of the Arizona border. There were no reported arrests.

Drug violence has killed more than 15,000 people nationwide since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels after taking office in late 2006.

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#220 Mar 8, 2010
Northern Mexico cops protest after ambush kills 3.

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP)— Police in northern Mexico protested Saturday hours after three of their colleagues were shot to death in an ambush and a fourth was wounded.

Local police in the city of San Nicolas de los Garza, a suburb of the industrial hub of Monterrey, gathered outside police stations and shouted demands at their superiors. Police want better weapons, equipment and life insurance.

“We want our rifles back,” said one masked officer, who would not be identified for fear of reprisals. He also said one of the officers killed in the shootout lacked a bulletproof vest, which some officers have gotten.

City spokesman Alberto Davalos said officers had agreed to continue working “under protest” while their demands are being met.

Video from the scene of the ambush showed the officers’ patrol car riddled with bullets. The injured officer is in serious but stable condition.

State police said the killings were apparently carried out by a drug gang.

Police say they lack high-powered weapons to match the firepower of drug gangs. But many members of municipal forces in Nuevo Leon state — where San Nicolas is located — have been accused of collusion with drug gangs.

In June, the state prohibited municipal police forces from carrying personal cell phones, out of concerns they were using them to tip off traffickers about federal raids.

And some municipal forces in the Monterrey area have been stripped of their assault rifles, after incidents of local police confronting federal agents as they tried to arrest drug suspects.

San Nicolas Police Chief Antonio Gamino promised to stay in closer touch with members of his force and accompany them when there are confrontations.

Mexico’s federal government has pledged to crack down on organized crime and drug cartels, whose turf battles have cost more than 17,900 lives since late 2006.

The crime wave has hit the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez particularly hard, and on Saturday federal police announced the arrest of three men accused of running an extortion ring that targeted Ciudad Juarez businesses. Police said they belonged to the violent La Linea gang, allied with the Juarez cartel.

Also Saturday, the Mexican army announced it had seized 2.6 metric tons of marijuana and detained one suspect in a mountainous area of Chihuahua, the state where Ciudad Juarez is located.

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#221 Mar 8, 2010
Burned body among 16 weekend slayings

Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times Staff
Posted: 03/08/2010

A burned body was found late Saturday in one of several homicides during the weekend in Juárez.

The Chihuahua state attorney general's office said the body was so badly burned investigators had yet to determine whether the victim was a man or a woman. About 11:30 p.m., the body was found in a 1990 Chevrolet Lumina in a vacant lot on Calle Aeronauta behind the Villa Residencial del Real neighborhood near the airport.

There were seven homicides Friday, eight homicides on Saturday, and Sunday morning an unidentified man, who appeared to be in his 40s, was found beaten to death in colonia Barrio Alto near downtown Juárez.

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#222 Mar 8, 2010
Man Busted for Trafficking False Documents

Rubén Rodríguez will be processed in a federal court after an extensive investigation.

Monday, March 08, 2010

LAREDO, TX.- An undocumented Mexican that resided in Laredo was arrested by federal agents accused of trafficking migratory fraudulent documents and identification.

Rubén Rodríguez will be processed in a federal court after an extensive investigation to determine the amount of documents, what kinds and to whom they were sold.

Reports indicate that in September 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) received information about a subject that possessed and sold migratory documents and fraudulent identifications.

Undercover ICE agents managed to meet with Rodriguez weeks ago to negotiate the purchase of several migratory fraudulent documents.

An agent paid a thousand dollars in cash, gave two photographs and false personal information for two sets of documents that included two legal resident cards, two Texas license and two Social Security cards.

Rodriguez told undercover agents that he would have the documents in two days, which turned out to be September 18th.

Agents contacted Rodriguez once again on January 28th of this year by cell phone to buy more false documents.

Upon meeting with Rodriguez, officials ordered 3 sets of cards for a cost of 1,500 dollars. This transaction was recorded by authorities.

Weeks later, an arrest warrant was issued against Rodríguez, who was arrested and taken into custody.

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#223 Mar 8, 2010
Man and Woman Arrested for Human Trafficking

A woman and a man from Roma, Texas were arrested by Border Patrol agents for organized criminal activity.

Monday, March 08, 2010

LAREDO, TX.- A woman and a man from Roma, Texas were arrested by Border Patrol agents accused of human trafficking and their involvement in organized crime.

Sheriff agents from Jim Hogg observed suspicious activity, when a subject identified as Dime de la Cruz, at a gas station near Hebbronville.

Minutes later, a woman identified as Ana Karen Quiroz arrived in a Malibu and later she was followed from the station by Dime de la Cruz, who drove a truck.

Later on, authorities observed as these two vehicles were parked on highway 285 about 5 miles east of Hebbronville and Dime de la Cruz was seen aboarding the Malibu.

Several men were detected as they came out of the scrub to aboard the truck. One of the men turned the truck on and as he tried to leave patrolmen stopped them.

In the truck, 15 undocumented immigrants were found and proceeded with the arrest of Dime de la Cruz and Ana Karen.

The illegal immigrants confessed to paying 1,800 dollars per person to be transported to Houston.

Dime de la Cruz and Ana Karen Quiroz admitted being contracted by the immigrants.

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#224 Mar 9, 2010
31 women on list of drug smugglers sought by DEA and FBI in U.S.

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
Posted: 03/09/2010

EL PASO -- Thirty-one female drug smugglers are among the fugitives being sought by the DEA and FBI in U.S. border states.

They are among 385 people in border regions wanted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal agents described five of the women as "armed and dangerous."

U.S. lists do not include an alleged kingpin that Mexican authorities identified as Enedina Arrellano Felix of the Tijuana drug cartel, Another woman -- Sandra Avila Beltran, "Queen of the Pacific cartel" -- is in custody in Mexico.

Arrellano, along with a son, is suspected of taking over the Tijuana cartel. Like Arrellano, Avila had relatives in the drug trade. She is awaiting extradition to the United States on drug charges.

According to prosecution witnesses' testifying in the running El Paso trial of Fernando Ontiveros-Arambula, at least four women were involved in drug-trafficking.

Sylvia "Burra" Carbajal, one of the witnesses, testified that she and her sister, Yvonne Carbajal, smuggled marijuana in the El Paso-Juárez region. She said she also ferried money forOntiveros-Arambula, and that both she and her sister were romantically involved with the defendant.

"I grew up around drugs all my life," said Sylvia Carbajal, who was indicted on drug charges in a separate proceeding.

Authorities have not said whether Yvonne Carbajal will be charged, too.

Last week, witnesses made references to a woman some knew as "La Guera," or "blondie." Other witnesses identified her as Elizabeth "Liz" Lares-Valenzuela, who survived a shooting in Juárez in 2008.
Lares-Valenzuela was indicted last year on U.S. drug charges. A DEA agent testified Monday that she became a fugitive after initially cooperating with the agency.

During the trial, a former Juárez police captain, testified that a woman known to drug-traffickers only as "La Tia" (the aunt), was the conduit for all communications between Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman Loera and his operatives in Chihuahua state.

A woman in Juárez named Juana said she got involved in drug-trafficking to help her husband, who was in law enforcement and was also a drug dealer. She is not involved in the federal trial in El Paso, so the El Paso Times is not publishing her last name.

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#225 Mar 9, 2010
Drug conspiracy trial may wrap up today

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
Posted: 03/08/2010

EL PASO -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys could give closing arguments today in the drug conspiracy trial of two men with alleged ties to the Sinaloa cartel.

Fernando Ontiveros-Arambula and Manuel Chavez-Betancourt are accused of taking part in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the United States.

Prosecutors built their case around witnesses' testimony and evidence from wiretaps and cell phone records of people involved in the drug trade.

Defense lawyers questioned the prosecution's use of several witnesses who had received plea bargains from the government. They also said a proper chain of custody was never established for cell phones allegedly belonging to Ontiveros-Arambula.

The cell phone evidence is crucial because prosecutors used call records to try to connect Ontiveros-Arambula to a vast drug-trafficking network.

Another issue the defense raised was whether ICE had provided Ontiveros-Arambula with a cell phone to call the agency, which used him as an informant. Officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied that they provided him with a cell phone.

On Monday, defense lawyers called two ICE officials to the stand.

ICE Special Agent Louie Gomez testified that Ontiveros-Arambula was an ICE informant until his arrest in October 2008. Gomez said he used to meet with the defendant at a Baskin-Robbins in El Paso after ICE provided him and his relatives with a visa to live in the U.S.

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#226 Mar 9, 2010
Violence in Mexico Worries Valley Farm Workers

Last Update: 3/08/2010

RIO BRAVO - Some Valley farmers are concerned about their family's safety. The farmers are in the U.S. Their families live in Mexico. Some say they can't go back to their family.

Workers at Reavis farms say they're on alert, closely watching reports of violence in Mexico. Wayne Reavis is the president of Reavis Farms. He manages eight people. About half of them have family living in Mexico amid cartel violence. "Just like all of us, we're just concerned," says Reavis.

Sources tell CHANNEL 5 NEW the power struggle between the cartels is shifting to Nuevo Laredo. Reavis says some of his workers still can't go home to their family. Reavis says his workers are here legally. They working for a better life, free of poverty, and away from violence. "I don't know if there is much I can do other than keep their mind occupied. They don't have anything bad to say, just watch like the rest of us and see what's going on," says Reavis.

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#227 Mar 9, 2010
Leaders Discuss Affect Violence in Mexico has on Valley Tourism

HARLINGEN - Authorities from the U.S. and Mexico met today under one roof to talk about border security issues and the impact on their local economies.

It's called the Summit on Tourism, Security and Marketing. The event is put on by Harlingen's Convention and Visitors Bureau. Similar summits have been put on before by Harlingen officials, but this one is unique because of the recent outbreak of violence in Mexico.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell says, "There's more violence happening on the Mexican side with the governments crackdown on cartels and the drug trade, and that's created some more violence."

"We're just discussing how the perception of some of the violence on the border has had an effect on tourism industry and what we can do about it," says Boswell.

Boswell says, long term, the violence could effect visitors' plans to travel to the Valley and Mexico. Still Boswell wants to get the message out to tourists that his city and other border communities in the U.S. are safe. Boswell says so far, there's been no significant decrease in tourism in his city due to the Mexican violence.

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