Arrest leads to underwater tunnel across US-Mexico border

8/20/15 KLKN – ABC 8

Photo via Flickr user Walter
Photo via Flickr user Walter

The arrest of a drug smuggler in scuba gear led to the discovery of a tunnel from Mexico that’s partially underwater and ends in a canal.

Evelio Padilla pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in San Diego to one count of possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

Border Patrol agents said in court documents that they discovered a soaked Padilla in a wetsuit next to the All-American Canal, about 7 miles east of Calexico, California, on April 25. Near him, they found a breathing tank with a “rebreather” to prevent surface bubbles, and several vacuum-sealed and giftwrapped packages that held a total of 55 pounds of cocaine.

That led to the discovery of the 150-foot-long tunnel, which began at a house in Mexicali, Mexico, and ended under the water of the canal. The drugs were put on a trolley system on the dry Mexico side of the tunnel, and smugglers would use scuba gear to retrieve it from under the canal’s water from an opening that is normally obscured by rocks.

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Immigration 2015: 1 Dead In California Border Patrol-Undocumented Immigrants Boat Collision

6/19/15 International Business Times

Photo via Flickr user Walter
Photo via Flickr user Walter

One woman died Thursday after a boat that was packed with undocumented immigrants collided Thursday with a U.S. Border Patrol vessel in Southern California, according to a new report. At least four other undocumented immigrants were hospitalized after the collision, which happened off the coast of the North County in Oceanside, California, near San Diego, ABC affiliate 10 News reported.

The undocumented immigrants were allegedly being smuggled into the U.S. Thursday morning when agents from the U.S. Customs and Border protection spotted the boat they were in and attempted to stop it. However, the boat ignored the orders despite warning shots from agents before the collision, resulting in all 20 of the people on the smuggling boat ending up in the water and the boat capsizing.

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Are families of cross-border shooting victims a step closer to justice?

09/16/14 Aljazeera

border3It’s been almost two years since 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodriguez was killed in the Mexican town of Nogales as he walked down a street close to his home near the U.S.-Mexico border. According to reports, on the night of Oct. 10, 2012, an unidentified Border Patrol agent opened fire on José through the steel-beamed border fence that stands on a cliff above the street where he was walking. José was shot at least 10 times as he stood on Mexican soil — by an agent standing on U.S. soil. Until recently, José’s family believed it was likely no one would be held responsible for his death.

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Border Patrol sued in fatal shooting of man in Mexico

08/27/14 Los Angeles Times

border patrolThe family of a Mexican man who was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol agents two years ago has filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging that the agency sanctioned an unbridled use of deadly force in response to rock throwing.

The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Laredo, Texas, is the latest to argue that constitutional civil rights protections against excessive force should apply to noncitizens who are in Mexico.

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Border agency ousts head of internal affairs, will investigate unit

Los Angeles Times, 06/09/14

Customs_and_Border_Protection_officersThe head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection was removed from his post Monday amid criticism that he failed to investigate hundreds of allegations of abuse and use of force by armed border agents, officials said.

James F. Tomscheck, who has held the post since 2006, is a 30-year veteran of federal law-enforcement agencies. He was given a temporary assignment in another job in Customs and Border Protection, which is the parent agency of the Border Patrol.

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Border Patrol uses flight to ease backlog in Texas

immigrantsAzCentral, 5/7/14

Overwhelmed by the number of immigrants crossing illegally into in South Texas, the U.S. Border Patrol was scheduled to send a planeload of recent arrivals across the state to El Paso for processing for the first time on Wednesday. Immigrants who cross the Rio Grande and enter the state illegally increasingly find themselves covering great distances to provide their basic information to an agent at a computer.

The flight of more than 100 detainees from Brownsville is the most recent way that the agency is trying to expedite processing under a surge of arrests that has recently averaged 1,000 per day in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, the busiest along the U.S.-Mexico border. The effort began with busing immigrants to less-busy stations within the sector, then expanded to hours-long bus rides to the Laredo and Del Rio Sectors for processing.

“We’re utilizing all of the resources that we have available,” said Border Patrol spokesman Daniel Tirado. “We’re going to take advantage of that and farm out some of those detainees.”

He said it was unclear if the flight would become regular.

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Impunity and the Border Patrol

CBP_Border_Patrol_agent_reads_the_Miranda_rights_NY Times, 5/11/14

If a Border Patrol agent beats, kicks, threatens or otherwise abuses you, you can file a complaint. What you can’t count on, evidently, is anything being done about it. That is the sorry conclusion of a study released last week by the American Immigration Council, an advocacy organization in Washington. The council sought to collect data about abuse complaints against the Border Patrol — a difficult task, given the lack of transparency at Customs and Border Protection, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security to which the Border Patrol belongs.

The council had to sue under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records of 809 complaints between January 2009 and January 2012. The accusations varied widely — of migrants kicked and stomped after being detained, struck in the face and head with flashlights and other objects, sexually groped, improperly strip-searched, verbally abused.

But in nearly every case, the outcome was the same: inaction or a lack of a resolution. For 472 complaints, or 58 percent, the case was closed under the heading “No Action Taken.” An additional 324 cases, or 40 percent, were still being investigated. Only 13 cases led to disciplinary action, most often counseling. There was just one suspension.

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